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Animal welfare moving higher on research agenda

6 December 2018, at 12:00a.m.

The CEO of the Prairie Swine Centre says over the past 25 years, issues related to animal welfare have become an increasingly important component of research.

To make sure the Prairie Swine Centre remains connected to the needs of Canada's swine sector, it is in the process of reviewing its strategic plan.

According to Dr Murray Pettitt, CEO of the Prairie Swine Centre, the intent is to consult with stakeholders, identify the challenges they face, and any knowledge gaps and determine what would benefit them the most.

Dr Pettitt said that there are four historical pillars of research at the swine centre, nutrition, animal ethology, welfare and behaviour and engineering.

Those are the public research programmes as well as the contract research programme which is sort of a private contracted research function that the swine centre can do for folks, he explained.

He added that those areas came out of consultation that was done at the inception of the centre over 25 years ago now and the need for that type of research was identified by the western Canadian swine industry and so the swine centre defined its mandate around the needs of the industry.

Dr Pettitt said: "The swine industry has changed over the last 25 years.

"There are fewer producers out there but there are many more larger producers so the customer for the swine centre information that we generate has changed.

"In terms of the influence on the research, welfare has become more and more important to everybody as the years have gone by.

"Certainly that programme has been doing more and trying to address some of the issues surrounding the welfare of the animals under our care."

He said the strategic review will take several months and the centre is just starting to interact with industry and ask questions.

Dr Pettitt mentioned that he expects the process to be wrapped up sometime this coming spring.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.ca