Major Research Themes
- Nutritional modulation of fertility and longevity.
- Understanding and alleviating seasonal infertility in pigs.
- The development and application of leading edge reproductive technologies to improve animal reproduction.
- Nutritional interventions to maximise sow longevity; body condition
during gestation and lactation and resulting reproductive performance
For Australian herds one of the major problems associated with sow longevity and lifetime performance, at least in the short term, is the very early culling of gilts and first litter (parity 1) sows on the basis of reproductive failure. Current research suggests that the poor reproductive performance seen may be due to a lack of body reserves (protein and/or fat) or the rate at which it is lost during gestation and/or lactation and that ultimately this contributes to reduce sow longevity within the breeding herd. Our research is focusing on investigating and developing various management strategies and nutritional interventions to reduce the potentially detrimental demands of gestation and lactation and maximise sow longevity and lifetime performance.
- Nutritional interventions to alleviate seasonal infertility through
improved oocyte quality and embryo survival
Impaired fertility and fecundity of breeding sows during the summer months, commonly referred to as seasonal infertility, has a severe, negative impact on the productivity of Australian breeding herds. The primary problems seen during the seasonal infertility period are: restricted oestrus activity; reduced proportion of gilts reaching puberty; extended weaning-oestrus intervals in weaned sows; higher anoestrus rate in gilts & sows; and, an increased rate of mid-pregnancy returns. A series of research projects are currently being conducted to investigate each of these areas in an effort to understand the drivers and contributing factors of seasonal infertility and to investigate and develop various management strategies and nutritional interventions to help alleviate some of these problems currently seen in industry.