Welcome to the third edition of APRIL News for 2022.
The APRIL Annual General Meeting (for Ordinary Members of the Company only) and Stakeholders’ Forum will be held on Tuesday 15 November 2022, 1 pm – 5:30 pm, at the Marriott Hotel, corner of Exhibition & Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne, Victoria. The conclusion of the Stakeholders’ Forum will be followed by a networking function.
The Stakeholders’ Forum program is still in development but will be available here, https://apri.com.au/news-and-media/, in 2-3 weeks. The Forum will cover some of APRIL and APL’s research and development, education and training, and commercialisation activities, presentations from invited speakers, and a number of other presentations. An agenda will be sent closer to the date. There will be opportunities for questions and comments.
A Heat Stress and Seasonal Infertility Technical Forum, featuring a number of review presentations and updates on APRIL-and APL- supported projects covering this topic, is being held via Zoom on Wednesday 19 October 2022 between 1:00 and 3:30 pm (AEDT). For further details and information, please contact Dr Charles Rikard-Bell, Manager, Commercialisation and Research Impact (0439 513 723; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
This edition’s Research and Innovation piece provides an update on a new Transformational Project that is now underway, as well as details of the new APRIL Innovation Award.
Education and Training features two recently completed postgraduate theses from Dr Tanya Laird and Emma Goode, from Murdoch University and the University of New England, respectively, and provides some information regarding the new APRIL Post-Doctoral Fellowship Scheme.
The Research Snapshot focuses on the Final Report received for project A3B-102, Nutritional supplementation to increase the number of pigs weaned and fertility of sows which farrow and are mated during summer/early autumn (A/Prof Will van Wettere, The University of Adelaide).
Commercialisation in this edition describes some recent results examining energy values in sprouted grains from the 2021-22 harvest, as well as a call for Expressions of Interest in the further development and potential commercialisation of portable NIR technology for the rapid assessment of water quality.
Our Member Focus this edition features Professor Paul Verma, from PIRSA-SARDI and The University of Adelaide.
Towards the back end of 2022, and closing in January 2023, APRIL will be announcing an open and competitive call for Innovation Projects. Innovation Projects, which are negotiable to 12 to 18 months in duration and have a maximum budget of ~$75,000, are designed to support ‘out of the box’ ideas for smart, new approaches to tackle current and emerging challenges of the pork industry.
Innovation Projects must demonstrate originality, uniqueness and creativity, establish new concepts or challenge existing ones, address significant challenges or critical barriers to progress, and be able to improve or apply new theoretical concepts, methodologies or tools that will benefit industry.
To kick-off APRIL’s new Strategic Plan, up to $750,000 will be available for this round of Innovation Projects. Please note, Project Leaders will only be considered for a new project if reporting on their current projects is up to date.
A new section for future APRIL Newsletters will be for employment and education and training opportunities from Members. If there is an announcement you’d like to include in the Newsletter, please contact me.
As always, we would welcome receiving APRIL-related information and upcoming events from our Members’ for possible inclusion in the Newsletter [subject to space (preferred length is 100-150 words) and content], as we see this as an important communication forum between Members also.
Please note though that news of APRIL activities has priority, and items of an advertorial nature are not permitted.
Finally, New Zealand Pork are thanked for their support of APRIL.
Dr John Pluske
CEO and Chief Scientist
Research and Innovation
A new Transformational Project, Novel approaches for combatting antimicrobial resistance in Australian pigs: Exploring nature’s antimicrobial arsenals, naturally derived feed additives and natural bacterial flora to combat resistant bacteria, is underway through Murdoch University, with Professor Sam Abraham as Project Leader.
The overarching aim of this project is to determine the origin, transmission pathways and public health impact of newly emergent, critically important antimicrobial-resistant (CIA-R) Escherichia coli in pigs in order to develop novel control strategies for the pork industry. This project will use advanced high throughput robotics and genomics to understand the extent of the AMR in Australian pigs, significantly maximising the impact of novel integrated control strategies based on nature’s antimicrobial arsenal. Using naturally-derived feed additives, phages, and natural bacterial flora, the outcomes will enhance our understanding of AMR and development of commercially viable solutions. The anticipated outcomes will address one of the most pressing and globally significant animal and public health issues at the moment, namely the development and dissemination of resistance to last-line human use antimicrobials in food-producing animals.
Partners in this Transformational Project are SunPork Solutions, Rivalea (Australia) Pty Ltd., Feedworks Pty Ltd. and Australian Pork Limited, with Tecan Australia Pty Ltd. as a project subcontractor. Thank you to all those contributing and participating in this important project.
One of APRIL’s strategic imperatives is to seek leverage of its funds against additional investment in priority research, education and training, and commercialisation programs to achieve necessary scale for key industry outcomes. In this regard, APRIL continues its Kickstart program for the 2022/23 financial year, which is aimed at providing financial support to individuals/organisations to put together a project submission that seeks significant external funding.
More details of the scheme can be found here, or by contacting Dr John Pluske (email@example.com). Applications are open at any time.
APRIL Innovation Award
A new initiative from APRIL is the Innovation Award.
The purpose of the Innovation Award is to tap into the resourcefulness, know-how, and ingenuity of the many people that work in the pork industry, to demonstrate innovations, e.g., new products, new methodologies, new services, that the industry can adopt to improve performance and efficiencies, and that might result in commercialisation opportunities.
The Innovation Award winner(s) will be selected by an industry-based panel and will be announced at the APRIL Stakeholders’ Forum in Melbourne on 15 November 2022. The Award winner(s) will be eligible to be invited to attend and eligible to receive a cash prize (as per the Terms & Conditions).
Applications must be received by 5 pm AEDT, 21 October 2022. Please direct any queries and send applications to: Dr Charles Rikard-Bell, Manager, Commercialisation and Research Impact (0439 513 723; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Further details relating to the purposes of the Award and How to Apply, as well as the Terms & Conditions, can be found here.
Education and Training
Congratulations to Dr Tanya Laird and Emma Goode, from Murdoch University and the University of New England respectively, for the successful completion of their postgraduate theses.
Dr Tanya Laird’s PhD thesis (Novel approaches for managing and controlling antimicrobial resistance in pigs; supervisors Professor Sam Abraham and Drs Mark O’Dea and Shafi Sahibzada) examined various aspects of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in E. coli in pigs and nutritional interventions (in the forms of Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation products and Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation products) for the control/reversal of AMR. A study also looked at the combination of bacteriophages and competitive exclusion clones in vitro as a novel and targeted approach for the control of extended-spectrum cephalosporin-resistant E. coli.
Dr Laird’s thesis was part of project A1-101, Novel approaches for reducing antimicrobial resistant and pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria in the porcine gut, led by Professor Sam Abraham (Murdoch University).
Emma Goode’s Master of Science in Agriculture thesis (Seasonal fertility of the sow can be predicted by sow-factors; supervisors Professor Susanne Hermesch and Dr Kate Plush) explored the identification of indicative traits of fertility, sow parities most affected by season, and the months of reduced breeding success. Emma’s thesis was part of project A3B-104, Seasonal fertility: a novel approach to alleviating seasonal infertility in sows, led by Dr Kate Plush (SunPork Solutions).
Dr Laird is currently employed in Diagnostics and Laboratory Services at the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), and Emma is parenting and farming in South Australia and an active member of the Kapunda and Light Agricultural Show Committee.
To build further upon APRIL’s current education and training investments and assist in further building human capacity for the pork industry, a call seeking applications to support its education and training programs (including the new Post-Doctoral Fellowship Scheme; see below) will be made in November, 2022. This will also include opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students/potential students interested in pursuing a project as part of the current CRC-Project (CRC-P), Eliminating Pig Tail Removal to Improve Welfare and Industry Sustainability.
Applications and information for APRIL’s education and training awards will be able to be found here.
APRIL Post-Doctoral Fellowship Scheme
At its June meeting, the APRIL Board approved the APRIL Post-Doctoral Fellowship Scheme. This Scheme will complement the existing Industry Placement Program (IPP), and assist in providing more opportunities for individuals to become further involved in the pork industry.
The Scheme’s main objectives are to: (i) attract and retain high calibre early career researchers for the benefit of the pork industry; (ii) provide Post-Doctoral Fellow recipients with the time and support to develop their demonstrated research potential and track record; and (iii) assist in establishing a Post-Doctoral Fellow with a successful career trajectory.
Applications and guidelines for the scheme will be open to an individual, on a full-time or part-time basis, who has completed their research doctorate (PhD) studies (or will shortly satisfy the requirements of a PhD) and has less than 3 years of relevant post-doctoral work experience (or pro-rata equivalent).
APRIL has received a Final Report for project A3B-102, Nutritional supplementation to increase the number of pigs weaned and fertility of sows which farrow and are mated during summer/early autumn (A/Prof Will van Wettere, The University of Adelaide).
A collaborative study between The University of Adelaide, Rivalea (Australia Pty Ltd.) and Feedworks was conducted to determine the effects of arginine supplementation with or without betaine from 7 days prior to farrowing until the first post-weaning oestrus, on piglet mortality and growth prior to weaning, as well as sow reproductive performance post-weaning.
This study consisted of two replicates, one in summer and one in winter/spring (spring), with four dietary treatments applied from farrowing shed entry until first post-weaning oestrus: (i) Control, standard diet; (ii) Betaine, standard diet plus betaine (0.2%); (iii) Arginine, standard diet plus arginine (L-arginine; 1.0%); (iv) Arginine plus Betaine, standard diet plus arginine (1.0%) and betaine (0.2%) (n = 130 sows per treatment per seasonal replicate).
Numerous reproductive and lactation indices were measured including in the following lactation.
Major Project Outcomes
- During summer, the inclusion of arginine in sows reduced piglet mortality, adding arginine and betaine to sow diets improved subsequent reproductive performance, while the addition of betaine (regardless of the presence of arginine) also improved subsequent reproductive performance.
- Regardless of the inclusion of betaine in the diet, arginine reduced piglet mortality between fostering and day 3 of lactation from 19.8% to 14.7% (P < 0.01), reduced the number of piglets which died from fostering to weaning (2.20 ± 0.13 versus 2.55 ± 0.13; P = 0.06), and reduced the number of live born piglets which died prior to weaning (2.86 ± 0.15 versus 3.33 ± 0.15; P < 0.05).
- Subsequent reproductive performance:
- Arginine and betaine together reduced the weaning to remating interval (P < 0.05) from 5.6 to 5.1 days, increased the number of piglets born alive from 12.3 to 12.9 piglets/litter, and decreased the number of piglets born dead from 1.7 to 1.0 at the subsequent litter (P < 0.05).
- When the main effect of betaine was analysed, its inclusion increased the number of piglets born alive at the subsequent litter from 12.3 to 12.8, and decreased the number and percentage of still born piglets from 1.64 to 1.18 and 10.9 to 8.1%, respectively (P < 0.05).
- For treatments applied in spring, there were no benefits of including either betaine and arginine, either together or separately, in the diets of sows from pre-farrowing to remating during spring, on measures recorded during the first and second lactation. Stillbirth rates were higher at the first farrowing, and litter size on day 25 of the first lactation was lower following supplementation of betaine and arginine separately (P < 0.001). This result appears to be contradictory to the bulk of the available literature, and may, therefore, require further validation.
Check the APRIL website here, for details relating to Project Summaries and Final Reports.
Wheat energy contents and the falling number value
The 2021-22 eastern Australian harvest caused an estimated 40-45% of wheat grown in NSW being downgraded to feed wheat due to pre-harvest germination caused by an unusually wet summer. Unfortunately, the feed grain quality data reported in the AusScan Early Harvest Reports were not able to compare sprouted and normal wheats. The falling number value is used by industry to determine the degree of sprouting in suspected wheat samples, but its relationship to energy contents for pigs and broilers is unknown.
AusScan Online conducted a study in which 23 samples of sprouted grain from the 2021-22 harvest were analysed for falling number, test weight and energy values, with the objective being to determine whether the degree of sprouting – as indicated by the falling number – is relevant to the predicted energy content of the wheat. A higher falling number value indicates non-weather-damaged grain, whereas a lower value is more indicative of sprouted grain.
The results showed acceptable values for pig faecal digestible energy (DE) content and broiler apparent metabolisable energy (AME) content ranging from 13.5 to 14.0 MJ/kg and 12.5 to 13.0 MJ/Kg across the range of falling number values, respectively. A total of 21 samples were classified as sprouted grain and would have been downgraded to feed wheat, despite having acceptable DE and AME values.
The results help to emphasise that sprouted wheat in most instances has an equivalent nutritional value to normal wheat, and that the falling number value can be of little to no consequence when considering grain energy contents for feed formulation purposes.
Expressions of Interest – Improving an NIR Calibration of Rapid Assessment of Water Quality
APRIL is seeking Expressions of Interest from a suitable partner (or partners) to support further development/testing and potential subsequent commercialisation of a miniaturised, NIR technology that can rapidly assess (less than 60 seconds) more than 13 water quality parameters including alkali metals, heavy metals and microbiology.
Water quality and its management represents a significant challenge to the livestock industries. Rapid, on-site testing of water quality will enable timely, cost-effective decision-making. By having access to this simple yet robust technology, livestock producers and technical decision-makers will be better placed to understand their individual water quality challenges and in turn implement appropriate actions to ensure not only optimal animal productivity, health and welfare but also economic benefits and efficiencies.
Furthermore, this technology is translatable across other agricultural and industry sectors where rapid diagnostics are needed.
Member Focus -Professor Paul Verma
(PIRSA-SARDI, The University of Adelaide)
I am a reproductive biologist with a research focus on assisted reproductive technologies and biotechnology and am keen to translate my research into real world outcomes. After obtaining my PhD at The University of Adelaide, I joined BresaGen Ltd, working on generation of pigs for organ transplantation (xenotransplantation). This sparked my interest in, and led to working on, pig reproduction for three decades, during which time I have wonderful memories of travel to Bunge Meats (now Rivalea) in Corowa, NSW for embryo transfer experiments. Subsequently developing an interest in stem cells, I moved to Monash University for 10 years, being appointed Professor and Program Leader, Stem Cell Biology. Mentoring bright young students was a highlight of my time in academia, supervising 11 PhDs and 14 graduates, resulting in >90 publications and featuring in Nature (2003)! During this time, I was fortunate to also be appointed to the NH&MRC Cellular Therapies Advisory Committee (CTAC); Scientific Advisory Panel, Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry; and Panel Chair Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF).
Joining SARDI in 2012, I work with pigs and sheep, using reproductive technologies and precise genome editing (CRISPR-Cas9) to manipulate livestock production traits and develop biomedical models. For the last three years I have enjoyed leading the Pigs & Poultry Group and developing greater ties with industry. Having recently been appointed Acting Program Leader for Livestock Sciences, I intend to continue exploring and developing innovative biotechniques to solving industry challenges, including precise identification of the reproductive state of the sow, enhancing fecundity and growth rate in pigs, and developing a ‘lab on a chip’ for pig welfare monitoring.
Conferences, Events, Important Dates
1. TropAg International Agriculture Conference, 31 October-2 November 2022 (Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre).
2. APRIL AGM and Stakeholder Forum, 15 November 2022 (Marriott Hotel, corner of Exhibition & Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne, Victoria).
3. APL Delegates and Members’ Forum, 16 November 2022 (Melbourne).
4. APL Annual General Meeting, 17 November 2022 (Melbourne).
5. Evoke AG, 21-22 February 2023 (Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia).
6. American Society of Animal Science Midwest Meeting, 12-15 March 2023 (Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, Wisconsin.