Published on May 28, 2019
Working Together Sets Industry Apart
Both in research and in life, the qualities we seek for the perfect partner are much the same: similar values and goals, with knowledge and experience that complement our own. In an industry as competitive as the pork industry, aligning with the right collaborator on the research front is vital for genetic companies that seek to help customers prosper and progress. Whether that partner is local or abroad, from the private sector or academia, finding the perfect fit is the first step to a brighter future for all concerned.
In its quest for research allies, Hypor understands that multiple partnerships are needed to maximize the benefit for customers. Institutions like Wageningen University, the Universities of Barcelona and Madrid, and INRA – the French National Institute for Agricultural Research and Europe’s top agricultural research institute – all work with Hypor to expand genetic knowledge.
In terms of research quantity and scope, Hypor’s greatest collaboration is with Breed4Food, a public-private consortium established by Wageningen University & Research Centre and four international animal breeding companies in the Netherlands.
This is pre-competitive research that is valuable for everyone. All the projects are based on sharing costs, expertise and resources to accomplish more than we could alone.
Four studies currently underway with Breed4Food address areas of great importance to the industry. “Smart animal breeding with advanced machine learning” aims to apply machine learning to improve data analysis and enhance animal performance. “GenoMiX” boosts prediction accuracy through better use of crossbred information. A third project is working on methods for capitalizing on sequence data to increase accuracy of breeding values; meanwhile, a fourth one seeks ways to better apply sequence information to avoid mutations that can be lethal or negatively affect animal performance and well-being.
Additionally, there are more than ten other projects that are funded separately, focusing on precision phenotyping and use of sequence information.
In many ways, Hypor’s participation with Breed4Food underlines their belief in the power of partnerships.
“We joined this cooperative effort because we feel strongly that there should be more interaction between different disciplines,” said Konrad Broekman, Senior Geneticist - Northern Europe & Asia Swine for Hendrix Genetics. “We are working with human geneticists, machine learning specialists, mathematics groups and experts in computational biology. It’s like a big spider web composed of various networks and connections. “
Such joint efforts are especially valuable when measuring complex traits like resilience or behavior in group-based housing. Progress in these areas often requires following an animal over several days to look for indicators of sickness such as leg problems or reduced eating activity. By working together, Hypor can access cutting edge sensors that track behavior, as well as slaughterhouse data and lesion information, for example. Not only does this increase the number of sources where they can collect data, but also find new tools and technology to analyze that data more effectively.
This is good news for industry, because greater collaboration means faster progress and maximum impact on Total System Profitability.
Our product needs to perform in all kinds of circumstances. Partnerships provide the technology and data required to link the findings at the producer (crossbred) level back to our nucleus farms. In turn, that helps us select purebreds for better crossbred performance. In the past, we didn’t have the tools to generate the proper information at the producer level, so this benefits our customers in a significant way.
Apart from aiding Hypor in defining new traits, forming partnerships allows them to capture more data from a range of sources, analyze it more efficiently, and extract the information most relevant to customers. While these partners may differ in their size, resources and methods, they share a common goal: supporting producers and industry partners in their quest for success.