Semen Sexing Soon to Revolutionize the Breeding Industry
Last October during the AGRILINK exhibit, we sat down and talked with Mr. Roger Parfitt, International Sales Manager of CEFN. A pig genetics expert, Mr. Parfitt excitedly told us about the sexing technology which he says, will soon be available in the Philippines in around two years time. Here are excerpts from our talk with Mr. Parfitt as he expounds on the role that genetics plays in pig production.
So what’s this semen sexing technology? What this means is that we would be processing the semen from boars and eliminating the sex that don’t want. For example, we have multiplies that produce gilts or female pigs. Currently the sex plate is approximately 50- 50, 50 so already 50% of our production on those farms has to go off for slaughter because the males are castrated. And out of the other 50% we might be selecting 60% for the replacement market. With semen. sexing, ioo% will be all females, which again. we select 6o% this will only mean that 40% of animals will actually culled for market and doubling our efficiency from a breeding point of view. And likewise, when we’re producing sire lines.we can produce only males.
Of course this will revolutionize the breeding industry, particularly with ourselves because we will have control of science that we’re using.
And this will soon be available commercially?—
We can make it available to commercial farmers because currently. Commercial farmers also have a 50-50 sex split. So they have to castrate their males going to meat production. If we produce only females, there’s no longer any castration. And that will mean they will be more feed efficient. They will be able to target their nutrition for the sex of the animal which is now female and they will no longer have castrated males which tend to put on fat. Fat is expensive. Although it is fast growing, it is expensive to produce. Fat is energy whereas meat is predominantly water which is cheap. So it is cheaper to lean mean than it is to produce fat.
The consumers nowadays also want lean meat…
Yes, they want leaner pigs these days. Everybody is more health conscious, always thinking about cholesterol.
Are the pigs in the Philippines of good genetics materials?
Yes, but we have to understand that we can reduce or improve the effect of good genetics by poor management or better management, poor nutrition or better nutrition and so on. All these factors are different so you just cannot say pigs bred in the Philippines and do that comparison because if you go to Bukidnon where the air is fresh and cool, the pig performance of genetic material will not be the same as the pigs in Bulacan which is hot and humid. So there is a lot of what I call as interference factors. What we do as a company is to measure our genetic improvement with a genetic software called Best Linear Unbiased Predictions or BLUP. But ifs not just ourselves using BLUP. Other companies are doing the same. BLUP does enable us to compare a pig that we produce in Australia than the pig that we produce in the Philippines.
Why is it wise to invest in genetically good materials?
There are farmers and individuals who want to have a bit more control. We can make a package to suit them. if you look at the bigger farms in the States, they tend to say this is the end product that I want or I like that breeding program. So I’d go to that breeding company and they can do the lot. The problem stand the farmers Independencebut sometimes they don’t have the critical mass in their own farm to be supported by a nucleus or a multiplication unit. In genetics, we need a certain number of each breed to be maintained so that our coefficient of inbreeding is kept low. If we have a very simple nucleus farm just to produce females, we might be thinking of a minimum of—let’s call it 200 sows. That would support a multiplication level of 2000, which would support a commercial level of 20,000. If you have 200 at the top of the pyramid, you have to have 20,000 sows. There are only a few companies in the Philippines that have that number. Companies like Foremost Farms and Monterey have breeding programs although they are looking at genetic supplies from outside to support their programs.
If you will quantify in terms of pesos and cents, how much does genetics play in pig production?
It is very difficult to quantify. The actual cost is very small but that also depends on what level you’re at. Cost of genetics can be something like 5% of your budget. Let’s say around 5% to io% of your budget. But the influence will be a lot. There is a big variance because of all those factors. It could be somewhere in the region of about 20% to 65%. It’s a huge variance but for value of money, it’s a small input, although farmers would say it’s very expensive but in the long run, the return is far better.
Source: MARID, 2007, Ronald Mangubat