The 24th Red Deer Swine Technology Workshop took place on October 23, 2019 at Westerner Park in Red Deer. More than 150 guests—primarily producers and their barn workers—attended eight presentations and networked with more than a dozen exhibitors.
“Every year, Swine Tech includes premier speakers covering a wide variety of topics relevant to pork production,” said Alistair Bratton of Olymel, who serves as Chair of the Swine Tech committee. “Knowledge transfer is the goal, and by involving those on the front-line of production, we are able to connect the people who handle pigs with those who are heavily involved with research, specifically.”
Presentations featured this year included disease prevention and readiness topics by Dr. Julia Keenliside, Dr. Egan Brockhoff and Perry Abramenko; welfare issues by Dr. Brockhoff, Dr. Yolande Seddon and Kevin Brooks; and technology topics covered by Dr. Dan Columbus and Tom Stein.
On the side of disease, porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and African Swine Fever (ASF), along with the role of wild pigs in disease transmission, were discussed.
“You can never predict how things will go,” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Dr. Keenliside said about the ongoing PED investigations in Alberta, which experienced its first four outbreaks ever this year. “We don’t quarantine or depopulate immediately, but we let producers work with their vets to make the decision that’s best for their farm. Often, there is no smoking gun to determine the exact source of disease, which is why it’s important we all work together on this.”
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry also sent inspector Perry Abramenko to present on the province’s wild pig situation, and Dr. Brockhoff of Prairie Swine Health Services provided an update on the work that is being done to protect Canada from an ASF epidemic.
Dr. Brockhoff also presented on the importance of colostrum in early-care management, while Dr. Seddon of the University of Saskatchewan was also on-hand to talk about sows, which included an exploration of what causes sow aggression. Kevin Brooks of Olymel provided behavioural analysis from another perspective: moving pigs effectively.
“Sometimes when we try to do things faster, we actually end up slowing ourselves down,” said Kevin.
And it would not be Swine Tech without the tech! Dr. Columbus of Prairie Swine Centre and Tom Stein of Maximus Systems drilled down into the topics of mycotoxins in feed and machine learning in pork production.
“If I had stood here in 1982, I could have said, ‘There’s this thing called a personal computer, and it’s going to change everything,’” said Tom. “If I had stood here in 1995, I could have said, ‘There’s this thing called the internet, and it’s going to change everything.’ Today I’m saying, ‘Machine learning is going to change everything.’”
The Swine Tech committee invites you to stay tuned as details for next year’s Swine Tech are released some time in mid-2020.
For more information on Swine Tech, contact Charlotte Shipp, Industry Programs Manager, Alberta Pork by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-491-3526, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).
Look for an extended version of this article in the upcoming issue of the Canadian Hog Journal, set for publication in January 2020. For your free subscription to the Canadian Hog Journal, contact Charlotte Shipp.