Home > From the Top Shelf by Dr Roger Campbell, CEO, Pork CRC

From the Top Shelf by Dr Roger Campbell, CEO, Pork CRC

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article image Dr Roger Campbell, CEO, Pork CRC

The Pork CRC are currently in the midst of their Third Year Review, which will be followed by strategy meetings for the second half of the Pork CRC’s ‘first phase life’. These meetings will be used to decide where R&D funds should be invested for the best outcomes and returns for Australian pork producers.

Excellent Outcomes
To date, there have been several outcomes from the Pork CRC’s research on reproduction and sow longevity and animal health, including the new vaccine against APP. Research on grower-finisher pigs has also reinforced how much feed pigs consume in the last four weeks of growth and how feed efficiency deteriorates rapidly after 65-70 kg in commercial facilities. It remains to be seen whether it is the pig or its environment that’s leading to the depression in protein deposition.  

The AUSPIG and the FeedLogic systems will be used in WA and Queensland, and new, automated grower-finisher facilities in SA, to establish the major factors contributing to the decline in growth in late finishing and investing in innovative R&D projects to find solutions.

Better Grains
The Pork CRC have also undertaken a number of grain projects. The new feed barley (NRB 03470) is about to be released by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (through AWB Seeds), the new triticale (JRCT 74) by the University of Sydney (through Waratah Seeds) and the new pea (Maki) will be released by Plant Breeders NZ and the University of Sydney (through AGT).  

They’re all from Pork CRC supported projects and designed to help reduce long term feed costs. The NIRS calibrations for rapidly measuring the digestible energy (DE) and other nutrient values for grains should also be available through a number of feed test laboratories under the trademark AusScan in the very near future.

Promising Year
Despite the global economic downturn, the pork industry remains in a secure position. Reported prices for pork and carcases are historically high, reflecting reduced supply due to industry contraction and summer infertility. However, there is a strong underlying demand for pork and producers are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities for long term supply contracts while there is a seller’s market.  

Grain prices have fallen, with corn and wheat on the Chicago Board of Trade dropping 50-60% from their 2008 highs. While they haven’t dropped back to their long term levels, in the short term, they won’t represent the same constraint on the cost of production and profitability that has been experienced in the past 18 months.  

The decrease in value of the Australian dollar is good news for exporters. It will open export markets for Australian pork while working against imports. However, there may not be enough pigs in Australia to take advantage of it. It also, to some extent, counteracts the falling grain price.

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