Norsvin now enters its 7th year with computed tomography (CT) used as a high-intensive tool for selection.
Norsvin implemented full body volume scans, CT-scanning,of live boars in 2008. Annually, 3,500 pure-bred boars are evaluated for carcass traits with this technology, and in total more than 16,000 pedigreed animals have passed through the X-ray tube.
Employing CT allows Norsvin to investigate data on candidate boars directly, thereby increasing selection accuracy and ensuring the greatest genetic benefit. It is also an invaluable research tool; being able to measure phenotypes like carcass composition, meat quality and robustness in vivo.
In-house knowledge and technology
The properties of CT images, and manipulation of these matrices require interdisciplinary knowledge, and progress cannot be made without acquiring and nurturing this knowledge. Norsvin is in the lead with six years experience and the best technology in house both within IT and human capital.
The CT-scanning alone generates a tremendous amount of data:1,100 images per animal, 1 image for every 0.05 inches.This equals to approximately 500 MB data per animal. The data program reading the CT-images is a unique in-house developed software, which obtains virtual carcasses from the live pigs scanned.
Estimated breeding values for CT phenotypes day after scanning
New phenotypes generated from the in-house developed program gives us data available for breeding value estimation the same day, and updated EBV’s (estimated breeding values) the day after scanning. Norsvin is the only genetic company utilizing high quality CT data so fast. Some phenotypes, like lean meat percentage and yield are automatically generated. In addition there are several parameters of body composition automatically generated, like weight and density of bone, muscle and fat, and size of some premium cuts. Also, there is continuous research in making new phenotypes automatically measured from CT data.
Norsvin focuses on a wide use of CT. By storing data and images of animals, we are able to look for new or improved traits retrospectively. The use of the historical database of images allows for new traits to be implemented more quickly. Future traits are only limited by our imagination and our ability to grasp what is in front of us and how specific markets in the future will valuate carcass and pork.
Read more about Norsvin's utilization of CT technology here:
What do you consider to be the main factors behind Norsvin’s CT-success? And how can Norsvin develop the CT-platform even further?
Dr. Jørgen Kongsro, Scientist (CT), Norsvin
"The main factors behind Norsvin’s success with CT-technology are people, infrastructure, implementation (follows the Norsvin tradition; short way from science to practice), and culture for 'bold' decisions.
For further development, we will seek to obtain more information and traits in 3D: value and yield of cuts (ham, belly, loin, shoulder), and morphological traits (shoulder sores etc.).
Further developments also require more focus on infrastructure and positioning of animals. This must be seen in relation to sedation vs. anesthesia, and regulation with respect to quarantines for non-selected animals sent to abattoir. More computing power due to 'bigger' data sets in is also required. More knowledge is also needed to reduce computing time from days to hours to minutes for the 'biggest' 3D data sets.
A PhD study is currently underway studying possible ways to obtain traits from 3D CT data, and Norsvin is an active part of this study".