A quality offensive in pig reproduction
In the 1980s, the insemination organizations in the Association of German Pig Production (Zentralverband der Deutschen Schweineproduktion e.V. ZDS) - now the German Livestock Association (Bundesverband Rind und Schwein e.V. BRS) - founded an alliance to support research in reproduction. The initial amount of one Pfennig for each portion of semen that was sold was used to support numerous research projects. Until today, the total amount of funding has reached almost 2.5 million euros. This commitment is unique and has contributed to the success story of artificial insemination (AI) in Germany. Today, more than 90 percent of German piglets are produced via artificial insemination. The neighboring countries Switzerland and Austria have also joined the research network and the successful initiative several years ago.
The research includes for example practical instructions for choosing the optimum insemination time, insemination management and sperm preservation. In addition, new procedures for semen assessment are being developed to detect quality defects at an early stage in order to deliver a high-quality product. A manual for the insemination stations has been developed, with detailed instructions for workflows to collect and process semen. A particular focus is on the quality and hygiene management.
Anyone who stops improving has stopped being good
The results of the research are analyzed annually, and new contracts are being signed. A pact of mutual assistance has been signed to guarantee a station's ability to deliver semen in the case of an unplanned event, e.g. if it is included in a restricted area following a disease outbreak.
The stations in the BRS have defined the requirements for the purchase of boars in terms of breeding soundness such as mounting capacity and semen quality in guaranteed terms.
These and other important quality standards are highlighted by the AI stations in the BRS with a quality logo. This documents their efforts to optimize insemination success in a verifiable way.
Our voluntary commitment to undergo regular external reviews and training shows how important the AI stations take this quality agreement. So far, two unbiased scientific reference and research institutions have been approved for conducting the reviews: the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover (TiHo) and the for the Reproduction of Farm Animals Schönow e.V. (IFN). External quality monitoring is carried out regularly in random samples to avoid errors that could occur in everyday routine. This involves the use of state-of-the-art scientific research methods that have emerged from joint research. The results of this monitoring process provide the AI stations with valuable suggestions for a process optimization.
The BRS coordinates this process for its members. This is offered for all stations. In addition, participation in the research association (FBF) is a requirement for ensuring the further development of the quality standard.
In line with the slogan
If you stop improving, you stop being good, the participating stations aim to show their customers with this quality agreement in which way they are, via the coordination of BRS and FBF, committed to strengthen German pig production. The measures include regular staff training by experts from the scientific reference laboratories.