At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of the CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork approved $2.7 million worth of second round R&D funding for 2012-2013.
The funds were spread across the four programs, with Programs 2 (Herd health management) and 3 (Healthy pork consumption) each receiving $750,000 - $760,000 and Programs 1 (Confinement free sow and piglet management) and 4 (Carbon conscious nutrient inputs and outputs) receiving $500,000 and $687,000, respectively.
According to Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell, this comes on top of the $4.6 million allocated in the first funding round last year.
"I'm pleased to report that we're already close to seeing some positive, industry changing outcomes from projects funded in that first round," he noted.
Dr Campbell said there were some very innovative second round proposals: "The quality of proposals was excellent, which meant the review process had to be particularly rigorous, with 32 of 54 applications being recommended by the R&D Committee and supported by the Board."
Recognising the significance of the industry decision to voluntarily phase-out sow gestation stalls by 2017 and Coles request of its pork suppliers to be stall free by 2014, the Pork CRC Board, at its June meeting, allocated $100,000 in additional, strategic funds to investigate what's happening commercially and run refresher workshops.
Workshops are currently planned for Melbourne and Toowoomba, week commencing 15 October.
Dr Campbell, although personally convinced the Australian industry can make group housing work and acknowledging that the Pork CRC has very promising R&D in place, is very aware of the degree of urgency, as system changing deadlines approach.
"While many Australian producers have already moved to group housing of pregnant sows, it's not necessarily been in a systematic or consistent manner, so we want to know what are the secrets to making it really work for the sow and the producer.
"This is why we want the workshops to attract experienced overseas and Australian producers who have successful sow group housing systems up and running," he said.
The Pork CRC has supported several projects on group housing of sows after weaning, covering such aspects as floor space, when to group them after mating, how they're fed after mixing, how a sow's ranking in a group affects her welfare and performance and a range of interventions to reduce aggression in the period immediately after mixing.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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