North Carolina State University
Animal Science Departmental Report
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Grinnells Intensive Swine Research Laboratory


E. van Heugten, T. van Kempen, R. Harrell, and J. Odle

Grinnells Laboratories is an intensive swine research facility comprising a total area of approximately 15,000 square feet located on Faucette Drive on the central campus of North Carolina State University. The building is named after Claude Delbert Grinnells (1892-1975), NC State's only veterinarian for many years prior to the establishment of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The facility has been subdivided into three functional wings, each of which is described in detail below.

Metabolism Wing

Canulation Room: The canulation room is equipped with 10 smooth-wall concrete pens designed to hold one grower-finisher pig in each pen. Flooring is plastic coated and is raised approximately 3 inches above a smooth concrete floor and allows the separate collection of urine and feces. This room serves primarily to house pigs with ileal canulas to determine digestibility of nutrients, primarily amino acids, at the end of the small intestine.


Figure 1. Pig with a canula in the distal ileum


Metabolism Crate Room: The metabolism crates used at North Carolina State University are designed to hold pigs weighing between approximately 50 and 350 lbs. The sides of the crates can be adjusted in width to make sure the pig cannot turn around. This is necessary to ensure that feces and urine are deposited in one area, facilitating total collection.


The pig stands on a slotted floor that has been coated with plastic. Underneath the floor is a screen that will collect all the fecal material voided by the pig. Under the screen is a stainless steel tray that drains into the center and which will allow for the collection of all the urine produced during the day. Knowing the amount of feed given each day and the nutrient composition of the feed, total nutrient intake can be calculated. Digestibility and the amount of nutrients retained in body tissues (or lost) can be calculated. Total nutrient excretion in feces and urine can be estimated and several nutritional strategies aimed at minimizing this excretion have been studied.

Figure 2. Front and side view of a swine metabolism crate

Figure 3. Inside view of a metabolism crate with feeder in front.        


Sample Processing Room I: Feed, intestinal, fecal, and urinary samples collected in various experiments are mixed, subsampled, processed and stored in this room.


SMEL (Swine Malodor Emission Laboratory):The Swine Malodor Emission Laboratory (SMEL) is comprised of environmentally controlled animal units and analytical equipment. The animal units consist of two chambers for housing pigs. In each of these chambers, the amount and composition of the air going into the chamber and that coming out of the chamber is measured. Thus, odor compounds can be identified and quantified. Measurement of odorous compounds can be conducted by the use of a technique called FTIR, which measures these compounds based on their light absorption characteristics. Several studies have been completed and several are currently in progress to investigate nutritional effects on odor emission.

Figure 4. Swine Malodor Emission Laboratory


Farrowing Room I: This farrowing room contains five sow crates and serves as a source of piglets to several intensive baby pig research projects. Piglets can be obtained from the sow prior to suckling to generate colostrum-deprived, minimum pathogen pigs to study immunocompetence, disease and nutrition interactions.


Feed Mixing Room: The feed mixing room provides an opportunity to mix small quantities of research diets ranging from simple in composition to complex purified diets with extreme accuracy. The room is equipped with a 500 lb horizontal mixer, a 20 and 50 lb Hobart mixer, and sufficient storage for a variety of specialty ingredients.


Feed Storage Room: High volume feed ingredients and manufactured diets can be stored in the feed storage room on shelves or in airtight containers.


Nutrition Wing

Tracer Research Room: A variety of intensive studies can be conducted using radioactive tracers in this room. Gasses produced by baby pigs can be scrubbed to capture CO2 and analyzed. Studies to evaluate the metabolism of fat in baby pigs have been a major focus.


Autosow Room: The autosow is designed to automatically feed neonatal pigs a programmed amount of milk replacer every hour. The autosow can feed a total of 24 pigs in individual pens. The room can also be equipped with gravity milk replacer feeders to accurately determine feed intake. Experiments to determine the nutritional requirements, for example essential fatty acids, of pigs have been conducted. Studies to investigate complex disease and nutrition interactions to provide nutritional support to disease challenged animals are a focus area. Results of these studies are important for swine production and have broad implications for human infants.



Figure 5. Autosow with gravity feeding

Farrowing Room II: This farrowing room contains four sow crates and serves the same function as Farrowing Room I described previously.


Feed Preparation Room: This feed preparation room is exclusively intended to manufacture liquid milk replacer diets and provides support to efforts in neonatal pig nutrition.


Individual Swine Housing Rooms: Four rooms with 14 individual grower pens measuring 2 x 5 ft are available for management and feeding trials. Each pen is equipped with a nipple waterer and a stainless steel bowl feeder. Nutritional manipulations of diets for grower pigs and their effects on growth performance have been studied.


Shop: The shop contains equipment and tools to maintain and repair facilities.


Storage Room I: Research diets for trials conducted in this wing can be stored in this room in close proximity to the pigs.


Support Wing

Analytical Lab: The laboratory is equipped with a Retch grinder to process a variety of samples for further analysis. A bomb calorimeter, IKA model 5001 is available for the determination of the energy content of feed and feces. An FTIR spectrometer model Magna 760, Nicolet, near infrared capable Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometer equipped with an MCT-A D* detector and an extended KBr beamsplitter is available for the analysis of solid and liquid samples. Analysis of feces, urine, feed, and air samples can be conducted on a routine basis.


Surgery and Recovery Rooms: A surgery room with two surgery tables, an animal preparation and recovery room, a clean room and equipment for surgery is available to surgically prepare animals for a variety of experiments. For example, ileal canulation of pigs for digestibility experiments can be performed.


Drying Room: The drying room contains three large drying ovens for DM determinations and processing of samples for further chemical analysis


Prototype Belt System Room: A large prototype belt system was installed in this room in 2001. The belt is situated underneath five large grower-finisher pens and allows for the separation of feces and urine as an alternative waste management strategy. Ultimately, this system provides an opportunity to minimize ammonia and odor emission. The feces can be collected and further processed (for example gasification into ethanol). Total capacity of this system is 100 pigs.



Figure 6. Prototype belt system