Dr. Candido Pomar
Research Scientist - System Analysis - Precision Nutrition and Modelling
Why did you become a scientist?
I’ve always been interested in animal nutrition, and while I was researching to help producers to formulate optimal feeds for pig herds, I saw that there was a big difference in the amounts of nutrients individual pigs need. I was intrigued by the possibility of feeding the pigs just what they needed—and no more—for optimal growth and efficiency.
Meet Dr. Candido Pomar
What do you like most about your work?
There are a lot of things I like about my work. Feeling that we are helping producers to reduce production costs, reduce environmental impact and more is an important aspect of our work.
However, working with young people is definitely the most stimulating aspect! For me, it is a privilege to be surrounded by young, motivated students who have a dream and are working to become great professionals, or university professors or renowned researchers.
What is the coolest fact in your field of science?
Taking up the challenge of better understanding animal metabolism to develop innovative production methods that will help producers meet their production challenges. The livestock industry has to continually adapt not only to changes in national and international trade rules, but also increasingly to a society with growing animal welfare requirements and environmental standards. Our research is essential to help producers meet these challenges.
What is the most common question people ask you about your work?
"Is this production approach realistic? How much will the equipment cost? What will be the return on investment?"
Who inspired your career or who is your idol?
What is your favourite dish?
Canada is known as a producer of high quality pork, both at home and abroad. In keeping with their reputation, Canadian pork producers prioritize the treatment and health of pigs used for pork production.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Dr. Candido Pomar has dedicated his life's work creating the best solutions that impact animal well-being. "Pigs that are treated right make the best pork," explains Dr. Pomar. "Farmers have to balance how effective the pigs' food is with keeping them happy and healthy.
"But the right balance is hard to find. Too little nutrients, and pigs don't gain weight efficiently; too much, and they excrete more nutrients than they should. If the pigs excrete too much, it can have a negative impact on the environment."
An AAFC research team, led by Dr. Pomar at the Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre, has found that healthy weight gain can be controlled by giving each pig its own unique diet that meets their specific nutrient needs. They have developed a new feeding process to support this finding.
"The process is called precision feeding, and it is one of the most promising ways to promote high quality pork that does not sacrifice the pigs' well-being," describes Dr. Pomar.
Precision feeding involves giving each pig a unique ear tag that links to a computer. When meals are given, the pigs approach the feeding stations, which identifies their ear tag. The computer recognizes that specific pig and gives a personalized amount of food, pre-planned just for them, to meet their nutritional needs.
Not only do the computers keep track of every pig's special diet, but they are also used to prevent diseases.
"The computers also record whether the pigs eat all their food," Dr. Pomar explains. "This helps farmers identify early disease symptoms in individual pigs, without treating the whole group."
With precision feeding, farmers are able to raise their pigs in a way that encourages well-being, is more beneficial to the environment and produces top-quality pork. The principles of precision feeding developed in Dr. Pomar's laboratory are used by many leading livestock companies. Negotiations are underway to enter a collaborative agreement to commercialise the automated livestock system in the near future.