University of Saskatchewan
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
Industrial Research Chairs program
Associate Chairholder since 2018
The Canadian swine industry plays a major role in producing the high-quality protein needed to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population. The industry challenge is to increase output and meet animal welfare and environmental sustainability targets, while remaining efficient and profitable. Maintaining high levels of welfare for the pigs in its care is a priority for the Canadian swine industry and the focus of this IRC research collaboration.
The 14 industry partners represent Canadian pork producers, a swine genetics company, and major pork processing facilities that are collaborating with Dr. Seddon to significantly advance methods that will enhance swine welfare in intensive farming operations.
With academic collaborations involving research teams from the University of Saskatchewan, across Canada, and internationally, this multidisciplinary research program has four goals that cover areas critical to advancing the understanding of swine welfare. These goals are:
- To understand the impact of early life influences on the development of sociability, pig resilience to stresses, and welfare outcomes in the growing pig. This research will help identify progressive management practices that are conducive to promoting high pig welfare.
- To identify the role of play to enhance pig welfare and promote beneficial production characteristics by determining whether opportunities to play can induce positive emotions and influence the pigs’ immune response and ability to respond effectively to stress.
- To identify and validate biological markers that can inform how production practices influence pig welfare, including biomarkers that inform about longer-term welfare states and enable industry to monitor animal welfare on farms.
- To examine the value of welfare indicators observed from carcasses during abattoir meat inspection to provide accurate information about the welfare that pigs experience on farms. This could provide the basis for a continuous welfare surveillance system.
The research will inform management strategies to improve pig welfare and evaluate methods to effectively monitor the welfare of large numbers of pigs from multiple farming operations. The research outcomes will also support industry partners in meeting broader goals including reductions in antibiotic use, improvements in pig health, and improved meat quality.
In collaboration with industry partners, the findings will be tested under commercial conditions in partner facilities, and the close collaboration will maximize knowledge transfer of research results.
This research program will benefit the sustainability of the Canadian swine industry, the Canadian economy, and consumers of Canadian pork products. It will position the Canadian swine industry as a leader in progressive, welfare-based management practices that also improve product quality.
Dr. Seddon is an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine with specialized training in animal behaviour and scientific assessment of animal welfare. Her research career has focused on addressing welfare challenges in farmed swine. Her previous research has involved management of sows in group housing, pain control, early disease detection, and high welfare farrowing systems.
- Manitoba Pork Council
- Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board
- Porcima Inc., a company of Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec
- Olymel S.E.C./L.P.
- Alberta Pork
- Saskatchewan Pork Development Board
- Hylife Ltd
- PIC North America
- Maple Leaf Foods
- Conestoga Meat Packers Ltd
- Sunterra Farms Ltd
- BC Pork Producers Association
- PEI Hog Community Marketing Board
- Porc NB Pork
University of Saskatchewan