AFBI pig conference 2015 charts way forward for Northern Ireland pig industry

Date published: 11 November 2015

Area of Expertise:

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) held a very successful pig conference entitled ‘Research to Drive Sustainable Pig Production’ at their Hillsborough research farm this week. The conference was attended by representatives spanning the UK and Ireland and it highlighted the work that AFBI is currently undertaking to support increased efficiency in the local pig sector. Dr Sinclair Mayne (Division Director) and Dr Elizabeth Magowan (Head of Pig Production Research) at AFBI Hillsborough, welcomed delegates to the event. Papers presented at the conference highlighted recent research in areas as diverse as sow nutrition to finishing pig management, reflecting the breadth of areas currently in focus at AFBI Hillsborough.

Pictured (L-R) Speakers at the AFBI Pig Conference,  Sam Smyth, Kathryn Reid, Dr Elizabeth Magowan, Dr Giuseppe Bee, Aimee-Louise Craig and Dr Violet Beattie.  Not pictured Natalie Brush.

To start the proceedings Kathryn Reid, a PhD student linking across Teagasc, AFBI and UCD, presented her work focusing on gestation nutrition, especially the impact of arginine and carnitine in gestating sow diets. Kathryn was followed by Dr Giuseppe Bee from Switzerland. Giuseppe’s work has focused on optimising the performance of low birth weight piglets and he presented his latest findings in this area from the EU FP7 project, in which AFBI have a leading role, called ECO FCE.


Aimee Lousie Craig, a PhD student based at AFBI Hillsborough and QUB, reported the results of her work on lactation nutrition for sows. This was followed by Sam Smyth from John Thompsons and Sons Ltd who outlined key points of the successful academia/industry collaboration between Devenish, John Thompson and Sons and AFBI.  After lunch focus shifted to the finisher pig and Natalie Brush, a PhD student based at AFBI Stormont outlined her work and results relating to the prevalence of pleurisy in Northern Ireland pigs. Violet Beattie of Devenish Nutrition then reported results from a recently completed DARD Research challenge project where the impact of liquid feeding and the use of phase feeding on finisher pig performance was evaluated.  Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI) finished the day highlighting results from Pig ReGen co funded work which identified the impact on lifetime performance of achieving a good wean weight, especially in low birth weight pigs, the importance of feed intake after weaning and lastly the economic balance between number of pigs in the litter and the performance profile of those pigs.


Poster displays during the Conference highlighted other aspects of ongoing research including work on reducing pig odour, the use of alternative protein sources, opportunities to reduce GHG emissions of pigs, safety issues associated with the use of Dried Distillers Grain Solubles (DDGS) and the impact of gut microflora on pig feed use efficiency.  The conference was expertly chaired by Mr Ivor Fergurson (UFU Deputy President) and Professor Seamus Kennedy (AFBI CEO).   A copy of the Conference Proceedings can be viewed from here.


AFBI acknowledges core funding from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for many of the research projects reported and also for funding the conference and its proceedings. AFBI also acknowledges research funding through Pig Regen, John Thompson and Sons Ltd, Devenish Nutrition, JMW Farms Ltd and Rektify Ltd, AB Vista, HGCA, DAFM and the EU commission.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DARD and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.


AFBI's Vision is “Scientific excellence in Northern Ireland … serving the world”.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office.

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