Delta Norway opens many opportunities for increased sustainability

The new Delta Norway will be officially opened in mid-June. This new central boar testing and research station is double the size of the old Delta Norway. Norsvin CEO Olav Eik-Nes and Topigs Norsvin CTO Hans Olijslagers tell us more about the importance and the contribution of Delta Norway to a more sustainable pork production.

Delta Norway is located in the Hamar region in the southeast of the country and will be the location where young boars of the maternal line Norsvin Landrace one of the lines that forms the basis for the TN70 parent sow – and the terminal boar line TN Duroc will be tested. It is also an important research station equipped with modern technology that enables research to improve robustness and animal welfare.

Why build a station like Delta Norway in Norway?

Hans Olijslagers, CTO of Topigs Norsvin: “Delta Norway is the final element of our plan to upgrade our breeding structure, which started eight years ago. Other important steps in this plan were centralizing the nucleus breeding of the Z-line and TN Tempo in Canada and building Delta Canada and Innova Canada.”

Olav Eik-Nes, CEO of Norsvin: “The completion of the plan does not mean no more investments. At the moment, our breeding structure is optimal. However, we will investigate new investments in the future. We are an innovative company, and that means we keep looking into the future and making plans.”

“One example is finding new and better ways to test under commercial conditions. For example, this is important for improving disease resistance and other robustness traits. Much data is available or measurable already. However, it is not only measuring these data that matters but also how we should use them in our breeding program.”

What will the customer notice when Delta Norway becomes operational?

Hans Olijslagers: “Delta Norway will increase genetic progress by an extra ten percent, especially on feed efficiency and daily gain. That is substantial and will be noticed.”

Olav Eik-Nes: “But we also have more boars available. Delta Norway is double the size of the old Delta station. This means we can supply more boars to customers. The old Delta Norway station will be converted into a boar hotel named Sigma Nucleus Center, where boars go after being tested. This increases our possibilities to export and will decrease genetic lag. Customers will gain faster access to  genetic progress in their barns.”

Hans Olijslagers: “This, combined with the fact that Norway recently eradicated APP – they still had a harmless strain in their herds – means we can now export triple SPF animals from Norway. This opens up new markets that can now be delivered to directly from Norway and it also decreases genetic lag.”

“So we can now deliver more high-health boars with the highest genetic potential in bigger batches to more customers in more countries.”

Olav Eik-Nes: “That is what customers will notice in the short term. In the longer term, it will be possible to select for new traits thanks to the camera technology we use in Delta Norway to observe the pigs. Examples are traits that improve animal welfare and social behavior.”

Sustainability, in its broadest sense, is also important in relation to Delta Norway. Can you explain?

Olav Eik-Nes: “As previously mentioned, feed efficiency will improve faster than before. This means less feed is needed, less land is used, and fewer greenhouse gasses are emitted when producing pork. With the millions of Topigs Norsvin pigs in the world, this will lead to a substantial reduction in environmental impact.”

Hans Olijslagers: “Also, the animal welfare aspect of sustainability should be mentioned. Olav explained that we are going to breed for new traits on this, but Norway is already a frontrunner on animal welfare. For many years, they have had pigs with long tails and have used free farrowing. Pigs have been bred and selected for many years in this environment. With Delta Norway, we now can export this ability to produce under these circumstances more easy to other countries.”

Olav Eik-Nes: “The new advanced CT scanner we have at Delta Norway will also contribute more to research on robustness, improved animal welfare, and less environmental impact. We are definitely going to discover many new things. We are looking into robustness traits like bone and skeleton strength, as well as what I call the motor of the pig: the heart and lungs. We really do need to make pigs more robust. Currently, too many pigs die during production. Higher survival leads to higher efficiency, less environmental impact, and, of course, higher animal welfare.”

What makes you proud when looking at Delta Norway?

Olav Eik-Nes: “That our owners, the farmers, have the vision to invest in the future of pig breeding and, with that, in the future of their own operations. Together, we have created a breeding structure that will offer us many opportunities. It will increase our competitiveness but also that of our owners and other customers. We have done this by working together as one team and I am convinced we will achieve a lot more in the coming years.”

Hans Olijslagers: “With the completion of Delta Norway, we completed our breeding structure plan of 2016. When we merged in 2014, we set a goal to double the speed of genetic progress in ten years. We have achieved this already. And with Delta Norway, we are going to increase progress even further still.

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