In the cantine of the Swine Innovation Centre (SIC) we have placed the agenda with invitations of pig farmers, companies, etc. on a prominent spot. The training sessions - rooting with …… organised by VarkensNET are also put on the agenda. The idea is that all our animal caretakers and research assistants are stimulated to go out and meet the pig farmer. Attending the opening of new pig stables, etc. provides the employees of SIC with an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and experiences about working on the national innovation centre for the Dutch pig industry. Go and tell the pig farmers what we are working on on their behalf.
Past and present
In the last decennia the Dutch knowledge infrastructure underwent major changes. In the past research, extension and education on different levels were well organised and more or less owned by the Dutch government. The regional experiment farms worked on applied research and demonstrated the latest innovations in pig housing and management. Like all pig farmers, I visited on a yearly basis the experiment farms in the south (Sterksel) and east (Raalte) of the Netherlands. Just out of curiosity. Later as a student and researcher at the Research Institute for Pig Husbandry in Rosmalen I also got acquainted with the legislative sensitive research such as group housing for pregnant sows, animal welfare measures and rearing pigs under SPF-conditions.
The government ‘owned’ knowledge infrastructure is history. Today, we have a private-public ‘owned’ knowledge infrastructure with SIC at Sterksel as the national innovation centre for the pig industry. The shared vision on the future pig industry - Recipe for sustainable pig meat – written down by representatives of the pig industry (NVV, LTO en COV) is the guide for the innovation program financed indirectly by the farmers organisations and Dutch government. Working together with groups of pig farmers and companies researchers at SIC produce new innovations such as individual identification of fattening pigs, feeding according to pig requirement, farrowing in groups, etc. And SIC Sterksel also works on legislative sensitive research such as the pilot work on the (im-)possibilities to keep pigs with longer tails. In the past this type of research was conducted in Rosmalen. Today, it all comes together at SIC Sterksel. Every day an enthusiastic group of people work hard to improve the economic returns for the pig farmers in the present, differentiated (commodity, branded and organic) pork market and to maintain a licence to produce in the Dutch society in the future.
Welcome at SIC Sterksel
Why is it so important that all employees of SIC Sterksel go out and meet the farmer? The time that all Dutch pig farmers paid SIC Sterksel a yearly visit driven through curiosity lays behind us. A good reason for the team of SIC Sterksel to take the initiative and talk to the pig farmers about innovations on openings of new pig stables, symposia, rooting with…… sessions of VarkensNET, etc. It might well be that curiosity of pig farmers is aroused and that they in return pay us a yearly visit at SIC Sterksel. All pig farmers are more than welcome to do so!
(manager SIC Sterksel)