A chicken in every pot? That’s so 20th century. In the 21st century, it’s a pork chop on every plate. And Dr. Claude Robert of the Université Laval is working with leaders from the pork industry in Canada to make that happen.
Pork is already big business, generating $23.8 billion of economic activity for Canada and employing more than 100,000 people. Pig meat is an important driver of the Canadian economy as two thirds of the domestic production is exported. Over the past two decades, genetic improvements to key traits such as litter size, growth rate, feed efficiency and carcass composition have benefited the Canadian industry to achieve a favorable edge on the highly competitive global export market. But the addition of genomics to the mix promises faster improvement and opens new avenues for additional traits to meet consumer demands such as meat quality, improved animal health and welfare and lowering environmental impacts.
Dr. Robert and his collaborators are seeking to integrate genomic information related to economically important traits into current genetic evaluation programs, with the ultimate goal of producing more efficient, higher-quality hogs and pork tailored to the needs of pork producers, processors and consumers. This project will integrate current genomics technology into the Canadian Swine Improvement Program and is a stepping stone for application of additional rapidly developing genomics technology in the years ahead.