Vitamin research need IDed

DES MOINES, Iowa — Outdated and inappropriate vitamin knowledge could be cleared away with some major research centres being established, nutrition company DSM thinks.

“We’ll be able to produce a lot of data quickly,” said Casey Bradley, who is organizing a network of large-scale hog research farms.

While there is a lot of macronutrient research on proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and many pharmaceutical products have been studied, vitamin research has lagged.

In fact, a lot of the research relied upon today is up to 40 years old.

That’s a problem because today’s swine genetics, management systems and barn structures are nothing like they were 40 years ago. Assumptions of micronutrient requirements might be far off-base.

Some researchers have complained about the lack of ability to protect intellectual property research as one of the constraints on finding vitamin funding, but Iowa State University nutritional researcher Ken Stalder said it isn’t the main problem.

“I think it’s more a number-of-animals (issue) that’s required to do adequate vitamin research,” said Stalder, pointing out that most university research herds have 200 or fewer sows.

“I think that’s the limiting factor and why you haven’t seen anything done in 40 years.”

DSM researcher Jonathan Bergstrom agreed that the lack of intellectual property protections wasn’t the main problem and that large herds were needed for valid results.

Bradley said DSM is hoping to establish a number of regional centres, including one in the United States Midwest with 2,500 to 5,000 sows, which would provide commercially relevant results.

Other centres would be set up across the U.S. and Canada, looking at gilts, feeders and nursery issues. The company has already begun this approach in poultry.

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