The Tidewater AREC swine facility serves as a base for a research program with emphasis on reproductive physiology, breeding herd management and welfare. The program is directed at solving problems in the Virginia and U.S. swine industries with applied and basic research approaches in topics related to improved reproduction efficiency of boars and sows in artificial insemination breeding systems, housing and management of breeding females, estrus synchronization, and nutritional approaches to improve reproduction. Swine physiologist, Dr. Mark Estienne leads this research program along with collaborating scientists from Virginia Tech and other universities, Tidewater AREC, graduate students, and technical staff with funding support from commodity board, industry, and other competitive grants. Selected examples of current research topics include:
- Effect of supplementing selenium enriched yeast as a replacement for sodium selenite on the fertility of boars used in artificial insemination breeding systems.
- Effect of supplementing selenium enriched yeast on the fertility of boar spermatozoa after the freeze thaw process for longer term semen storage.
- Increasing efficacy of PG-600 for stimulating estrus in replacement breeding gilts.
- The effect of supplementing organic trace minerals on sow productivity and longevity.
- Adult reproductive performance of high- and low-birth weight boars.
- Reproduction in boars fed diets containing dried distillers grains with solubles (a co-product of corn-based ethanol production).