“Quite often, when Iapproach a problem, the science we need doesn't exist.”
I’m responsible for the genetic improvement programme of our pig breeding herds, and also the scientific research and development programme that we run both internally and with universities around the world.
The research programme uses genetics on a daily basis to help us decide which animals we breed from and which animals are sent into the food chain.
The research programme is wide ranging and includes many different types of science, including genetics, reproduction, nutrition, immunology, biology, statistics and meat science.
All of these have to be applied on working farms with live animals (which is more difficult and unpredictable than science performed in a laboratory).
Never take the food on your plate for granted, the availability and affordability of pork is because of the huge genetic gains we have made in improving production efficiency.
Without the genetic improvement more people in the world would go hungry and consumers would be spending a much larger percentage of their household income on food.
Identifying a real problem on a farm or in a pig population and setting off a group of researchers to find a solution.
Quite often the science doesn’t even exist (at least in pigs as a species) when we start. We therefore look to implement ideas from other species (I’ve sat in human fertility clinics when we wanted to learn about IVF) or other industries.
The most satisfying part is using the cutting edge science solution to solve the real problem on farm.
I did A-levels in maths, biology and chemistry (and by today’s standards didn’t do particularly well).
I had some great teachers at secondary school which created huge enthusiasm in both maths and biology. When you combine these disciplines the obvious subject is genetics.
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