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Manitoba cuts the ribbon on blueblood boar genetics

Pork genetics company Topigs Norsvin has officially opened its doors in Manitoba

Manitoba’s hog sector is adding to its pedigree.

Global swine genetics company Topigs Norsvin has officially opened the doors to Delta Canada, a boar genetics and research facility located northwest of Winnipeg near Woodlands.

The company, which markets itself as the second-largest swine genetic company globally, opened the $15-million facility June 27 and aims to deliver its first boars by year’s end.

“Delta Canada will substantially increase the genetic progress in our Z-line (dam line) and TN Tempo,” CTO Hans Olijslagers said in a recent release. “It is part of Topigs Norsvin’s long-term breeding strategy and will substantially contribute to our target of doubling genetic progress in the coming period.”

The company has tagged resilience, quick growth, meat quality and proportion of live-born piglets among the traits of the TN Tempo sire line, which they market as “ideal” for restricted or liquid feeding.

The site northwest of Winnipeg was chosen for its distance from other hog production, an element tied to the facility’s biosecurity, while still within easy distance of Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport, something the company says will support international exports.

The Manitoba Pork Council welcomed the addition to its sector.

“The significance of this development is that it brings an international genetics company to make a major investment, as a company, here in Manitoba,” general manager Andrew Dickson said. “The signal that it sends to other swine genetics companies is that Manitoba is a place you can do business in and it’s a good location in order to build your North American, or, in this case, hemisphere, business.”

Dickson says he expects the facility to add more competition to the existing Manitoba hog genetics market. There are about four or five companies currently represented in the province, he said.

In particular, the council singled out the facility’s CT scanner, on-site truck wash and secure supply barns.

“As an industry, there’s been more science brought to bear to improve production and, by that, we mean that there are techniques used within, say, the medical field that now have been brought to bear to improve the selection of animals for breeding purposes,” Dickson said.

The ability to scan the whole animal, rather than being limited to current techniques, such as back-fat probing, is expected to help select, “different features for different markets,” according to Dickson.

“Some markets require a very lean animal. Some require animals with some more back fat on them than perhaps we might be used to. Some are looking for animals with very large loin areas. Others are looking for smaller loin areas,” he said. “The intent is to try and select, on the male side, for genetics that will give them a variety of options for different types of pigs for different market places across the world.”

The company says the scanner and IFIR feed stations will give a better measure of carcass and pork quality, individual feed intake data rather than extrapolating feed from growth and back fat, previously unavailable organ imaging for animal health, video analysis of behaviour and welfare and genetic selection based on genomics, rather than pedigree.

Topigs Norsvin says Delta Canada will take 2,600 pigs and will see 7,500 nucleus boars tested annually.

About the author

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Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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