Current and Future Reproductive Technologies and World Food Production

Volume 752 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 131-160


Impact of Swine Reproductive Technologies on Pig and Global Food Production

  • Robert V. KnoxAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois Email author 

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Reproductive technologies have dramatically changed the way pigs are raised for pork production in developed and developing countries. This has involved such areas as pigs produced/sow, more consistent pig flow to market, pig growth rate and feed efficiency, carcass yield and quality, labor efficiency, and pig health. Some reproductive technologies are in widespread use for commercial pork operations [Riesenbeck, Reprod Domest Anim 46:1–3, 2011] while others are in limited use in specific segments of the industry [Knox, Reprod Domest Anim 46:4–6, 2011]. Significant changes in the efficiency of pork production have occurred as a direct result of the use of reproductive technologies that were intended to improve the transfer of genes important for food production [Gerrits et al., Theriogenology 63:283–299, 2005]. While some technologies focused on the efficiency of gene transfer, others addressed fertility and labor issues. Among livestock species, pig reproductive efficiency appears to have achieved exceptionally high rates of performance (PigCHAMP 2011) [Benchmark 2011, Ames, IA, 12–16]. From the maternal side, this includes pigs born per litter, farrowing rate, as well as litters per sow per year. On the male side, boar fertility, sperm production, and sows served per sire have improved as well [Knox et al., Theriogenology, 70:1202–1208, 2008]. These shifts in the efficiency of swine fertility have resulted in the modern pig as one of the most efficient livestock species for global food production. These reproductive changes have predominantly occurred in developed countries, but data suggests transfer and adoption of these in developing countries as well (FAO STAT 2009; FAS 2006) [World pig meat production: food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, 2009; FAS, 2006) Worldwide Pork Production, 2006]. Technological advancements in swine reproduction have had profound effects on industry structure, production, efficiency, quality, and profitability. In all cases, the adoption of these technologies has aided in the creation of a sustainable supply of safe and affordable pork for consumers around the world [den Hartog, Adv Pork Prod 15:17–24, 2004].


Pork production Reproductive efficiency Livestock Swine Farrowing