The funding was approved by the board of directors of the Co-operative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC), and will be spread across four projects, including herd health management, healthy pork consumption, confinement-free sow and piglet management and a programme to look at carbon-conscious nutrient inputs and outputs.
The funding comes on top of an AU$4.6m investment allocated last year, the CRC said.
Dr Roger Campbell, chief executive of Pork CRC, said: “I’m pleased to report that we’re already close to seeing some positive, industry changing outcomes from projects funded in that first round.”
He said that the projects proposed for the second round of funding were very innovative: “The quality of proposals was excellent, which meant the review process had to be particularly rigorous, with 32 of 54 applications being recommended by the R&D Committee and supported by the board.”
With the industry decision to voluntarily remove sow gestation stalls by 2017 and the request by leading supermarket Coles for its suppliers to be stall-free by 2014, the Pork CRC board allocated a further AU$100,000 to look into the commercial impacts and to run refresher workshops for the industry.
Dr Campbell said he was aware of the urgency of the situation: “While many Australian producers have already moved to group housing of pregnant sows, it’s not necessarily been in a systematic or consistent manner, so we want to know what are the secrets to making it really work for the sow and the producer.
“This is why we want the workshops to attract experienced overseas and Australian producers who have successful sow group housing systems up and running.”