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Iowa Offers Dry Manure Applicator Certification Workshops

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will offer manure applicator certification workshops for dry/solid manure operators at eight locations in Iowa during February. These workshops meet manure applicator certification requirements for both confinement site manure applicators and commercial manure applicators in the state who primarily apply dry or solid manure.

“The information in this workshop will benefit not only those needing certification, but anyone using dry or solid sources of manure as a nutrient resource,” said Angie Rieck-Hinz, coordinator of the Iowa Manure Applicator Certification Program.

The workshops are free to attend and open to all. Applicators will be required to submit certification forms and fees to the Iowa DNR to meet manure applicator certification requirements.

Please register for one of the workshops by calling the number listed with the selected site. All workshops begin at 1 p.m.

  • Feb. 5, Sioux County Extension Office, Orange City. Call (712) 737-4230 to register.
  • Feb. 10, Branding Iron Restaurant, Thompson. Call (641) 584-2261 to register.
  • Feb. 12, Community Building, Ellsworth. Call (515) 832-9597 to register.
  • Feb. 13, Borlaug Learning Center, Nashua. Call (641) 228-1453 to register.
  • Feb 17, Washington County Extension Office, Washington. Call (319) 653-4811 to register.
  • Feb. 20, Adair County Fairgrounds, Greenfield. Call (641) 743-8412 to register.
  • Feb. 21, Heartland Museum, Clarion. Call (515) 532-3453 to register.
  • Feb. 27, Buena Vista County Extension Office, Storm Lake. Call (712) 732-5056 to register.


National Pork Board Responds to Tyson Foods Announcement

National Pork Board Responds to Tyson Foods Announcement

The National Pork Board issued the following press release today in response to a Tyson Foods announcement addressing how pork suppliers will be implementing euthanasia practices, barn video monitoring, sow housing and swine pain management.

This week Tyson Foods announced it will urge its suppliers to implement a series of production practices that it deems representative of responsible food production. Those recommendations include the use of video monitoring in sow farms, discontinuation of manual blunt force trauma as a primary method of euthanasia, use of pain mitigation for tail docking and castration, and the recommendation for sow housing built or renovated in 2014 and beyond to provide adequate quality and quantity of space for gestating sows.

On behalf of America's pork producers, the National Pork Board continues to recognize and promote the opportunity for producers, working with their veterinarians, to make the best decisions for their farms, their families, their employees and their animals. Producers need workable, credible and affordable solutions for improving animal care. From a broad industry perspective, there are a number of important issues raised by today's announcement:

  • Currently there are no approved drugs for the use of pain mitigation in pig farming. We strongly encourage pig farmers to work with their herd veterinarian to explore options to comply with Tyson's recommendation and to ensure all federal drug-use regulations are met appropriately under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act.
  • The National Pork Board maintains the position, supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, that there are numerous ways to provide proper housing and care for sows. Each housing system, including individual and group housing, free-access stalls and pastures, has welfare advantages and disadvantages that must be considered by a farmer. Regardless of the type of system used, what really matters is the individual care given to each pig - a mainstay of our industry's Pork Quality Assurance® Plus program.
  • Video monitoring can be a useful tool in auditing animal welfare on U.S. pig farms. However, video monitoring, like in-person auditing, is only one component of providing and ensuring good animal care and can add significant cost to the farmer. Auditing and monitoring should be balanced with a comprehensive approach to animal welfare that includes caretaker training to positively affect human-animal interaction.

As an organization that represents America's pork producers, the National Pork Board will continue to work on behalf of the industry for sound policies that recognize the importance of veterinary and animal science, recognize the interests of consumers in enhanced animal welfare and recognize the importance of producers as independent business people charged with providing the best daily care possible for the animals they raise.

Read the Tyson Foods announcement here.

Tyson Foods Letter to Suppliers Addresses Euthanasia, Barn Video Monitoring, Pain Management

Tyson Foods Letter to Suppliers Addresses Euthanasia, Barn Video Monitoring, Pain Management

This week Tyson Foods sent a letter to pork producer suppliers outlining production and animal treatment goals based on the company’s ongoing animal well-being program, according to a news release issued today.

According to Tyson Foods, the company will be taking the following steps:

1-Increasing the number of third party sow farm audits conducted through our FarmCheck ™ program

2-Urging hog producers to use video monitoring in their sow farms to increase oversight and decrease biosecurity risks

3-Encouraging hog producers to stop using manual blunt force as a primary method of euthanizing sick or injured piglets

4-Supporting the use of pain mitigation (such as anesthetic or analgesic) for tail docking and castration of piglets

5-Urging hog farmers to improve housing for pregnant sows by focusing on the quality and quantity of space provided, including urging all future sow barn construction or remodeling to allow for pregnant sows of all sizes to stand, lie down, stretch their legs and turn around.

Learn more at the Tyson Foods Website here.

Corn Prices Plummet; DDGS Prices Don’t


Since late last summer, corn prices have fallen dramatically, but distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) prices have not.

“While corn prices at South Dakota ethanol plants have dropped $1.50 per bushel since Aug. 2, DDGS prices have actually increased by $1.05 per ton,” says Darrell Mark, adjunct professor of economics at South Dakota State University.

Mark adds that prices for modified distiller’s grains plus solubles (MDGS) and wet distiller’s grains plus solubles (WDGS) have only declined by $13.50 per ton and $6 per ton, respectively.

“The result is that distiller’s grain prices have increased dramatically relative to corn prices in recent months,” he says.

During the week of Christmas, DDGS prices were trading at 138% of the corn price in South Dakota, while MDGS and WDGS were priced at 114-115% of the corn price (on a dry matter basis). Typically, the price ratio would be around 85-90%.

Mark explains that the distiller’s grain to corn price ratio increases when supplies (production) of distiller’s grains decreases or demand for distiller’s grains increases.

“The current increase in the distiller’s grain to corn price ratio is driven by demand increases, not supply decreases. In fact, good ethanol processing margins in the last two months have led to increases in ethanol production, and consequently distiller’s grain production,” he says.

Since mid-November, estimated distiller’s grain production has averaged about 12% higher than a year ago.

What's driving demand?

Two sources are driving the increase in distiller’s grain demand.

“First, soybean meal prices have increased almost $55 per ton since harvest, driving up the cost of protein for poultry and swine feed rations. As a result, these industries look for other protein sources like distiller’s grains to substitute for soybean meal, thereby increasing demand for distiller’s grains,” Mark says.

He adds that the second reason is the fact that export demand for distiller’s grains has increased substantially, particularly to China.

“Note that both the poultry/swine feeding demand and export demand would be primarily for DDGS (not the wetter MDGS and WDGS products), which has seen the largest price increase relative to corn,” he says.

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Webinar to Address New FDA Rules on Antibiotics

On Dec. 11, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced important steps to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics in food animals as one approach to addressing antimicrobial resistance in human medicine.

In an effort to clarify what this ruling means to livestock producers and other industry professionals, members of the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois will offer a webinar to address the new rules on Jan. 28 from noon to 1 p.m.

The discussion will cover what the new steps mean to the livestock industry, what they don’t mean, and how producers and others should respond. The webinar will be presented by professor emeritus James Pettigrew and professor Hans Stein.

“This announcement is not a surprise; it has been anticipated for several months,” Pettigrew says.

Pettigrew explains that while the FDA’s approach to antibiotic use in food animals had been published previously, the new documents issued this month describe the implementation of that approach.

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“The documents address only those antibiotics considered important in human medicine, which are all of them except the widely-used ionophores and a few others,” Pettigrew says. “The new rules apply only to antibiotics used in feed or drinking water.”

The core of the FDA’s approach includes:

  1. No use of these antibiotics for production purposes (to improve growth rate or feed efficiency).
  1. All uses of these antibiotics must be under veterinary oversight.
  1. Disease prevention is specifically recognized as an approved judicious use of antibiotics.

To register for the free webinar go to



Iowa Regional Conferences Focus on Risk, Finances

Learn more about preventing losses, limiting liability and conducting barn walk-throughs at the 2014 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences scheduled for late next month.

Pork producers will also hear about factors affecting operations’ financial status and get updates on a variety of health and disease issues. The Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC), Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach cosponsor this annual series at different sites around the state.

This year’s dates of Feb. 25-28 follow the same schedule at all four locations with sessions held from 1 to 4:30 p.m. There is no cost for those who preregister and pork operation employers, managers and staff are encouraged to attend. Walk-in registration is $5 per person, payable at the door. A link to the program brochure is available on the IPIC website at . To preregister, call IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or email

Conference dates and locations are as follows:

● Monday, Feb. 24 – Sheldon, Northwest Iowa Community College, Building A, room 119C

● Tuesday, Feb. 25 – Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office

● Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center

● Friday, Feb. 28 – Iowa City, Johnson County Extension Office

Everyone has heard of farmers who have suffered substantial losses due to barn system failures or other management challenges. Mike Brumm, with Brumm Swine Consultancy of North Mankato, MN, will walk producers through steps they can take to be better prepared to prevent these losses and limit liability issues. He’ll also draw on his experiences with Midwest farms to share his view of the ideal barn walk-through.

Iowa State extension livestock economist Lee Schulz will talk about the factors affecting the bottom line, review forecasts for input costs and market hog value, and present ideas on possible profit opportunities in the coming year.

At their respective locations, ISU extension and outreach swine program specialists will provide updates on ventilation management, euthanasia techniques and antibiotic use.

They’ll also share upcoming educational opportunities in these and other areas, and will lead PQA Plus 2.0 training sessions for attendees from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the day of each session. The training is free for those who preregister, so indicate attendance for this training as well as the afternoon conference by contacting IPPA’s producer education director Tyler Bettin at (800) 372-7675 or email


Conservation Program Enrollment Period Extended

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the deadline for new enrollments in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for fiscal year 2014. Producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS through Feb. 7, 2014. 

“Extending the enrollment deadline will make it possible for more farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to apply for this important Farm Bill conservation program,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller says. “Through their conservation actions, these good stewards are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run and CSP can help them take their operations to the next level of natural resource management.”

Weller says today's announcement is another example of USDA's comprehensive focus on promoting environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts. CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres across the nation.

The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy use.

Eligible landowners and operators in all states and territories can enroll in CSP through Feb. 7 to be eligible during fiscal 2014. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods. To be eligible for this year’s enrollment, producers must have their applications submitted to NRCS by the closing date.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or any local USDA service center.

Factors Impacting the Future Role of the Pork Checkoff

Two economists have provided an analysis of top trends in the economic and food production environment that are most likely to impact the future of the Pork Checkoff program.

The analysis is part of the National Pork Board's strategic planning initiative as the organization sets its course for 2015-2020. The task force met for the first time in December.

“Our overarching objective is to assess the role the Pork Checkoff plays in an ever-changing world and to identify strategic opportunities for us to help move the pork industry forward,” says Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “This may mean developing programs that increase consumer trust and comfort in purchasing pork.

Consumer needs regarding food safety and transparency, and producer needs to protect the environment and provide the best possible animal care will be front and center,” he says.

Daniel Sumner, the University of California at Davis, and  Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, identified the following trends as critical to address:

• There is a marked increase in U.S. consumption of pork, which is outpacing sales of all meat products. U.S. pork consumption is at a 10-year high and is only expected to increase.

• While the domestic pork market is the biggest by far for U.S. producers with 75% of U.S. pork production consumed domestically, Asia presents a growth market with 30-year projections of income growth and a rising middle class that demands more protein and produce.

• Productivity of the average pig farmer has increased, with pigs per litter and average market hog weights both increasing. This creates an immediate 2.6% increase in the amount of pork entering the market today.

• Food safety and farm practice issues will modify demand in rich countries and increasingly in middle-income countries with retailers – including foodservice firms – showing a strong interest in understanding farm practices and encouraging farmers to meet the demands of opinion leaders.

“Real per capita expenditures are very strong, with individual pork demand at its highest levels since 2004,” says Meyer, who noted that the percentage growth in pork sales in the past year is the highest among all meat products, including pork, beef, poultry and lamb.

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“Domestically, people are spending more on meat even while per capita income fails to grow. Following a year where animal activism increased its pressure through the release of undercover videos and the use of social media, people not only continued to buy meat, but in fact, bought more meat and paid significantly more for it,” Meyer says.

Sumner says global income and population growth continue to drive pork demand.

“On a global basis, the need for increased pork production over the next decade is very real,” Sumner says. “The U.S. pork industry must keep up, and even outperform past history, in order to meet increasing demand in both wealthy countries and those developing countries with rapidly growing per capita incomes.”

For members of the task force, the strategic planning process will be centered on asking a simple, yet aspirational question: “What if?” The question is designed to push the imagination about what the industry could be.

“In 2009, we set a vision for an industry that was responsible, sustainable, professional and profitable. We set goals to protect a farmer's freedom to operate, to reposition fresh pork with consumers and to make U.S. pork producers more competitive in the global marketplace,” Novak says. “Today, we must also focus on the issues important to society. That's what this planning process will uncover.”

Novak adds that among the most important topics of interest today are food safety, the environment and animal welfare.

“Our Pork Checkoff was founded by family farmers who recognized the need to invest in the development and promotion of their industry. We remain, today, a farmer-led organization that is focused on providing a return to producers for their checkoff investments,” Novak says. “At the same time, we need to acknowledge that the issues and challenges facing producers are no longer only producer issues, but rather affect the entire pork chain. Recognizing this new reality, and finding a way to align our interests with retailers, foodservice companies and packers will be critical to our long-term success. Progress is good and momentum important, but a vision to challenge the status quo is most critical.”

Throughout 2014, the Pork Checkoff and the food industry leaders comprising its strategic planning task force will review research, market data and the opinions of agriculture’s top economists and other experts in an effort to set a strategic vision to carry the organization from 2015 through 2020.  

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Cheaper Feed Fuels Hog Expansion

Cheaper Feed Fuels Hog Expansion

The advent of much cheaper feed is fueling modest expansion in the pork industry, according to Purdue University Extension Swine Economist Chris Hurt. The current expansion means that pork supplies will begin to grow more rapidly in the last-half of 2014.

Feed prices are expected to remain moderate with corn prices only increasing seasonally into the summer and then dropping again with a normal 2014 harvest. Soybean meal prices should move downward for most of the year as South American supplies come to market in the late winter and spring, and then as larger U.S. soybean acreage continues to put downward pressure on meal prices through the fall.

What will pork supplies be  like in 2014? Hurst says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the current number of market hogs to be down fractionally, but weights are expected to run about 2% higher and result in a 1-2% increase in pork production for the first half of 2014.

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Farrowing intentions for this winter and coming spring are up 1-2%, he says. With pigs per litter about 1-1/2% higher and higher weights, pork production in the last-half of 2014 will be up nearly 4%. Pork production is likely to continue to expand into 2015.

While farrowing intentions are up, USDA’s estimate of the breeding herd was down by 62,000 head, or 1%. The declines were led by western Corn Belt states of Iowa (-30,000 head), Minnesota (-10,000) and Missouri (-5,000).

Reduced corn yields that were anticipated in those states is one possible explanation of why pork producers were not as optimistic in those areas. Most states east of the Mississippi had record corn yields in 2013.

Pork demand in 2014 should remain strong based on limited competitive domestic meats and strong export demand. Total meat supplies (beef, pork, chicken, and turkey) will be little changed in 2014. Chicken production will rise about 3% and turkey about 2%. However, beef supplies are expected to drop 6% as a small calf crop and heifer retention will drag down beef slaughter numbers.

Retail pork prices will be much lower than beef and will thus continue to pull some consumption away from beef at the retail counter. USDA analysts expect pork export demand to increase by 4% and represent nearly 22% of total production.

Live hog prices averaged about $65 in 2013 and are expected to increase to about $66 for 2014. The highest prices are expected in the second and third quarters with averages of $69 and $71, respectively. With increasing production in late summer and fall, hog prices will drop back below year-previous levels.

Much lower costs of production will continue to be key to strong profit margins. From 2000 to 2006, the estimated total costs of raising hogs was about $36 per 100 live pounds. That reached a high on a calendar year basis of $67 in 2012.

Costs were estimated at $64 last year and are expected to average about $56 for the 2014 calendar year. Corn price was estimated near $6 a bushel for 2013 and is expected to drop to an estimated $4.45 in calendar 2014. High-protein soybean meal averaged about $440 a ton last year, dropping to an estimated $395 a ton in 2014.

Profits for 2014 are estimated at $27 per head, the most profitable year since 2005 for pork producers. Profit margins are expected to narrow in the fall of 2014 and into 2015 as pork supplies increase. However, returns still look to be profitable at least until the fall of 2015. This positive outlook should provide the foundation for additional expansion throughout 2014.

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Find Out More About PEDV at South Dakota Conference

Hog producers looking for new information on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) will find it during the South Dakota Pork Congress on Jan. 8, 2014 at 11 a.m. at the Sioux Falls Ramkota Hotel and Exhibit Hall (3200 W. Maple St.,).

This presentation on PEDV will give those in attendance strategies on how to prevent the disease from entering their farm, as well as ideas on how to deal with the disease if it does happen to infect their herd. The presentation will be given by Michelle Sprague, a swine veterinarian for AMVC in Audubon, IA, where they provide oversight to more than 100,000 sows and 1.5 million market hogs a year.

Sprague has first-hand knowledge of dealing with PEDV as some of the farms she oversees have been infected. She is also the president-elect of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), which involves more than 1,300 members in 40 countries.

This presentation is free and open to everyone involved in the swine industry from employees, managers, owners, veterinarians and allied industry to hear from an expert that has first-hand knowledge of dealing with this devastating disease.

Producers and employees looking for more information may contact Ashley Gelderman, South Dakota State University (SDSU), at (605) 782-3290 or Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension swine specialist at (605) 688-5435 or

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