Dr. Dean Boyd of The HANOR Company, a leading United States pork producer that operates in seven states, shared his insights during the pork session about integrating science into practice and getting it right. He observed that marketing and science today compete more than they used to, with marketing unfortunately winning more often and the science becoming less influential.
Scientists once thought that after human and animal genomes were mapped, so much more would be understood. “But in reality, what we found is that expression of the genome is actually a function of interactions of vast networks of genes,” Boyd said.
Although the genome matters, scientists have found that even the prenatal environment can cause it to express differently. As he noted, “Gene expression is so much about interactions.”
Thus, science that is incorrectly understood can raise havoc, he said. Scientists should be led by data rather than bias. Making impartial decisions that rely heavily on data and listening to those with opposing views is crucial. “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them,” Boyd said, quoting Einstein.
Production system research that is matched to key profit drivers is more valuable, he said. Among the key profit drivers of pork production that Boyd highlighted include:
- Pig viability is the most important differentiating factor.
- Pig numbers to market is the key driver to profit when comparing North American firms during profit and loss years . . . and
- Pig livability is the key driver to deliver on that.
- Heavy carcass weight is a key driver to profit in general.
- Production cost is important but secondary to pig numbers.