IN an effort to attract school leavers towards a career within the SA pork industry, the third annual Pig Education Day was held at Adelaide University's Roseworthy campus recently.
Sponsored by Pork SA and the University, 30 year 10/11 students from five SA high schools - Balaklava High School, Eudunda Area School, Waikerie High School, Trinity College, Central Yorke School and Nuriootpa High School - plus their six agriculture teachers, participated in the day.
The students are selected by their teachers based on interest already shown in pigs during their agricultural studies.
The day commenced with an introduction presented by industry consultant Graeme Pope highlighting aspects of piggery biosecurity, visitor responsibilities and ASF preparedness, before students entered the 400-sow Roseworthy Piggery.
The program was then divided into 40-minute concurrent sessions focused on three major aspects of pig production - mating and reproduction, farrowing and piglet survival, and nutrition and feeding.
Session presenters throughout the day included Mr Pope, SunPork Farms South technical officer Jena Alexopoulos, and ACE Livestock Consulting nutritionist Tony Edwards, assisted by trainee nutritionist Emily Boothey.
Graeme provided a practical demonstration of heat checking and artificial insemination in the piggery's Detection/Mating Area.
Jena Alexopoulos covered aspects of managing farrowing sows and optimising piglet survival in a farrowing room with two-day old litters, and included split-suckling to maximise individual piglet colostrum intakes and piglet fostering techniques.
Tony and Emily highlighted the nutritional challenges faced by all piglets at weaning, out front of a straw-based shelter housing 700, four-week old weaners.
After lunch, the student groups moved into the Campus laboratories with concurrent sessions maintaining their focus on aspects of managing mating and reproduction, optimising piglet survival and pig nutrition.
Mr Pope dissected reproductive tracts salvaged from gilts and older sows at abattoir to demonstrate the synchronisation required from various parts of the sow's uterus, and her endocrine system, to successfully establish, maintain and farrow a litter.
Jena used day-old piglet bloods, centrifuges and refractometers to enable the students to rank the piglets in order of their colostrum intakes achieved.
And Tony and Emily used a collection of raw and milled feed ingredient samples commonly used in Australian pig diets as the basis to introducing principles of least-cost diet formulating, and aspects of feed quality and presentation influencing feed intakes, pig growth and carcase composition.
The program ended with Mr Pope presenting a careers session to the group, using 20 different SA industry colleagues as examples of the range of jobs available within the pig industry, from pig transport to veterinarian.
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