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McRib Sandwich Gets Return Engagement

For the first time since 1994, McDonald’s McRib sandwich is available in all participating restaurants nationwide through November.

“The Checkoff was instrumental in the first national rollout of the McRib,” says Paul Perfilio, national foodservice marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. “This year the pork logo will be prominently featured on special McRib tray liners at all participating restaurants nationwide.”

The McRib is made of 100% USDA-quality pork, served on a toasted, golden-brown home style roll. The boneless, seasoned pork patty comes with fresh, slivered onions, two dill pickle slices and a one-of-a-kind sweet, smoky, tangy, western barbecue style sauce.

“Each year the return of the McRib promotion in different regions of the country brings pork back to the top of consumers’ minds and that is great for everyone involved,” says Dianne Bettin, chair of the Domestic Marketing Committee and a pork producer from Truman, MN. “The McRib has had a lot of success as a limited-time menu item.”

“McDonald’s McRib sandwich is truly an iconic product – and for many of our customers it’s more than just a sandwich, it’s an experience,” says Neil Golden, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, McDonald’s USA. “The enthusiasm and passion of McRib fans has helped propel a distinctive sandwich to a legendary status.”

McRib enthusiasts can view “The Legends of McRib,” Web site, www.McDonalds.com/McRib to capture McRib stories and tall tales submitted by fans who want to share their love of the sandwich with the world.

Trying to break the date

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National Hog Farmer

Alltech Provides Platform for Young Scientists to Succeed

[Lexington, KENTUCKY] – Entering into its sixth year, the Alltech Young Scientist Program is offering the opportunity for students with an interest in the field of science to blossom. This innovative contest gives college co-eds the chance to be recognized and win prizes for their writing of topics dealing with animal feed technologies.

“Education begins with children, but it shouldn’t stop there,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “The Alltech Young Scientist Program ensures that students pursuing degrees in science are recognized. This program has continued to have an increase in entries every year with our goal being 50,000 entries in the next few years.”

Michael Steele, from the University of Guelph in Canada, was the 2010 graduate winner and won with a groundbreaking research paper that examined the molecular mechanisms underlying rumen epithelial adaption to high grain diets in dairy cattle.

"Winning this award has inspired and motivated me to strive for research excellence. Alltech has provided the perfect platform for young scientists to be rewarded for their hard work," said Steele.

2010 undergraduate winner Lee Ann Huber, also from the University of Guelph, carried out important new research examining amino acid use in swine diets, specifically the previously ignored area of optimal ratio of isoleucine to lysine in pig starter diets.

Huber stated about the program, “The Alltech Young Scientist program is an unmatched opportunity to improve your writing and presentation skills as well as discuss animal science and nutrition with world renowned researchers. Every person has unique ideas and the potential to improve the face of nutrition research.”

To participate, students must write a scientific paper based on a topic about animal feed technologies. Undergraduate students’ papers must be 3000 words in length and graduate students’ papers must be 5000 words in length. Papers must be submitted through the template software available on www.alltechyoungscientist.com.

The first phase of the 2011 program will include a competition within each competing country. The winners of each local competition will move on to a regional phase and the regional winners will compete in the global phase. Papers in all languages are accepted. The deadline for submission is December 31, 2010.

All regional winners will receive roundtrip airfare, accommodations and registration to Alltech’s International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, USA in May 2011. At Alltech’s Symposium each student will prepare a presentation on their paper. There will be two winners selected at Alltech’s Symposium, one graduate student and one undergraduate student. The global undergraduate winner will be awarded $5,000, and the global graduate winner will receive $10,000.

GIPSA Rule Jeopardizes Meat Industry’s Progress

GIPSA Rule Jeopardizes Meat Industry’s Progress

“The tremendous progress of America’s meat and poultry industry is in jeopardy due to a proposed rule from USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA),” notes American Meat Institute (AMI) President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle, in a letter to the editor in today’s Des Moines Register.

In his comments, Boyle explains that the proposed rule would hurt the use of marketing agreements by livestock producers and processors because of a threat of legal jeopardy. “These agreements were initiated by producers and have been mutually beneficial to producers and processors. In addition, these agreements benefit consumers who enjoy a consistent, quality product because processors are better able to procure the types of livestock that yield those products,” he notes.

Boyle observes it is troubling that the GIPSA proposal lacks a comprehensive economic-impact analysis, an issue criticized in writing by nearly 115 members of Congress.

“An economic-impact study found that the rule would cost Iowa more than 3,700 jobs and cost the state $630 million in economic activity,” he explains, adding that nationwide the United States would lose 104,000 jobs and about $14 billion in total revenue.

“That is why AMI and the country’s largest livestock producer groups have called for the proposed rule to be withdrawn,” Boyle states.

Canadian Cutbacks Slow

Canada’s hog herd continues to shrink, but at a slower and slower rate, according the the quarterly Hog Statistics report released last week by Statistics Canada.

Canada’s breeding herd numbered 1.298 million head on Oct.1. That is 3.8% lower than one year ago and the first time since April 1,1998, that Canada had less than 1.3 million head of breeding swine on farms. The October inventory is also 6,500 head lower than the inventory on July 1, which was slightly larger than the March breeding herd.

The decline brings the combined Canada-U.S. breeding herd on Oct. 1 and Sept.1, respectively, to 7.068 million head, down 2.2% from last year. That herd is the smallest on record and is very likely the smallest since sometime before the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

But Canada’s “all others” inventories (e.g., market hogs) continue to get closer and closer to year-ago levels (Figure 1). There were 10.556 million head of market pigs on Canadian farms on Oct.1, only 0.5% lower than last year. The number of pigs weighing over 132 lb. (60 kg) was 2.5% larger than last year. That marks the third straight quarter in which finishing hog inventories have been larger than a year earlier – and that is in spite of lighter weight inventories that continue to run 2-3% lower than year-ago levels.

The reason for that discrepancy, of course, is that Canada is shipping fewer weaner and feeder pigs to the United States than they did last year. As Figure 2 shows, U.S. imports of weaner/feeder pigs (technically, pigs weighing less than 110 lb. or 50 kg) have numbered between 80,000 and 100,000/week for most of 2010, with an average just over 86,000/week since March 1. Further, imports since mid-July have been almost identical with year-ago levels, suggesting that these shipments may be finding a plateau – especially if the Canadian breeding herd stops declining over the next six to 12 months.

As readers know, these weekly import data have been largely unavailable since July. USDA published data through late August back in September and published data for September through Oct. 2 last week. The problem lies with a computer database change by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) border offices and some questions at the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS, the agency that published the import numbers based on APHIS raw data) about the internal consistency of the numbers being received from various border crossing stations. AMS hopes to have the data caught up and released on a weekly schedule soon, but I’m afraid we are going to get delays and blasts for a bit longer. If recent data are available, you will see them in the Weekly Production and Price Summary tables in upcoming editions of Weekly Preview.

More and Heavier Slaughter Hogs
U.S. cutout values and hog prices remained under pressure last week as slaughter once again exceeded 2.3 million head. The weekly total of 2.311 million head was 1.5% lower than the previous week, but 0.7% higher than last year – just the ninth week this year in which that has been the case. And, it should be noted, that three of the other eight were due to different weeks or days for Memorial Day and Independence Day this year.

Average carcass weights for all hogs rose again – to 205 lb. – one pound heavier than last week and last year. The combination of higher slaughter numbers and higher weights pushed estimated pork production to 473 million pounds, 1% lower than last week, but 1.4% higher than last year.

Perhaps more noteworthy is that the average weight of barrows and gilts that are reported under the mandatory price reporting (MPR) system set a record for the second week in a row (Figure 3). The MPR system covers packers that kill about 95% of all barrows and gilts, and is the best gauge of the weight of “top” hogs, thus providing the best gauge we have regarding performance and currentness of marketings. The excluded barrows and gilts are primarily “off” hogs, many of which are slaughtered by smaller plants.

Last week’s average weight of 207.0 lb. is 2.4% higher than last year’s 202-lb. average, but is up only 0.3 lb. from last week. Note the slowing rate of increase, which raises my confidence (or hope) that we may be near a peak. The factor that may make that view more hopeful than confident is that the normal seasonal peak does not usualy occur until late November or early December, after which we have not only seen excellent growth rates, but one day of slaughter delayed due to Thanksgiving. That calendar issue would cause me to still bet on a peak the first week of December but, given the slower rate of increase, maybe it won’t be too much higher. There’s some “hope” in that statement as well.

Tough to Pull Back Slaughter Weights
We’ve always seen the impact of new corn on feed consumption and, thus, hog growth rates, but this year’s effect is truly remarkable. When you compare good corn and good weather to really lousy corn and pretty lousy weather (during July and August), the results are pretty shocking.

And, while I would urge producers to do everything they can to get weights under control, we all need to realize that the task is virtually impossible as an industry. Our plants are running close to capacity and to make slaughter weights fall by 1.5 to 2 lb., we in effect must skip the pigs to be slaughtered tomorrow and start on those that would normally come the next day. Making one day’s worth of pigs disappear is tough to do and it gets even harder when everyone really wants the “other guy’s” pigs to to be the ones that disappear.

A final footnote – I apologize for the lack of Canada sow slaughter data in the tables. Ag and Food Canada’s Hog Statistics report has not been updated on the Web since Oct. 2.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: steve@paragoneconomics.com

Rotavirus – An Ongoing Challenge to Young Pigs

Rotavirus is a disease agent that all pigs are repeatedly exposed to early in life. The virus can cause gastroenteritis in pigs that ranges in severity from severe to subclinical.

There are many different strains of the virus. Pigs can be infected and potentially be made ill from rotavirus multiple times because there is poor cross-protection among different strains of the virus. Therefore, immunity against one strain doesn’t necessarily protect against another.

A group of researchers at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, led by Dr. Kurt Rossow and Doug Marthaler, developed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect the three most common rotavirus groups circulating in pigs. Designated Group A, B or C, these tests have been used for testing diagnostic cases over the past 15 months. Figure 1 summarizes the distribution of the viruses from these cases.

These data are not necessarily representative of the prevalence of these viruses in pigs, generally. However, the graphs illustrate a trend in prevalence by rotavirus group among the various age groups of pigs submitted to our laboratory as enteric disease cases.

It’s worth noting that Group C rotavirus is the dominant type detected in pigs less than 1 week of age. There is a pronounced shift toward a higher prevalence of Group A rotavirus, postweaning, with rotavirus detected in over 80% of the samples tested.

It is also worth noting that mixed infections are highly prevalent at all age groups, increasing with age. Currently, only a Group A vaccine is commercially available because the other rotaviruses are very difficult to grow outside of the pig.

Maximize Protection, Minimize Exposure
Controlling the severity of disease associated with rotavirus is a function of maximizing immune protection and minimizing exposure. Lactogenic immunity from the continuous nursing of sows with prior exposure to rotavirus provides effective protection against the disease in young pigs. Any disruption in nursing can interrupt this protection and leave the pig susceptible to disease.

The virus is quite hardy in the environment, but strict sanitation measures reduce the concentration of the virus and subsequent exposure for pigs. This is important for weaned pigs since the lactogenic protection is no longer available, and adequate active immunity may not have been developed in young pigs.

Click to view graphs.

Kurt Rossow, DVM;
Albert Rovira, DVM;
Jeremy Schefers, DVM;
Jerry Torrison, DVM
University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
torri001@umn.edu

Remember to Vote

Everyone in Washington, DC, is focusing on tomorrow’s election. They will be following the election results to determine what the make-up of Congress will be and what messages the voters will send to the administration and Congress. Republicans are expected to gain control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats are expected to maintain control of the Senate by a very small margin. There are over 100 House seats in play going into the election and many are represented by members of the House Agricultural Committee. Historically, there are only 20-30 seats in play at this time. A number of Senate seats are also considered toss-ups. They include Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia. Both parties are placing a great deal of attention on Nevada where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is battling for reelection against Sharon Angle. We can expect some upsets and surprises on Election Day. Next week’s column will include an election wrap-up and what it means for agriculture.

GIPSA Rule and Animal Welfare — Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin has raised concerns that the proposed Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule will jeopardize animal welfare. Grandin specifically mentioned the packer-to-packer ban in the proposed rule, which prohibits meat packers from purchasing, acquiring or receiving swine or cattle from another packer or packer-affiliated company. She gave an example of an integrated beef-processing company that owns feedlots or production facilities that would be required to ship cattle to either its own plant or sell to an independent dealer hundreds of miles of away instead of selling to another packer close to the feedlot or production facility. Grandin said, “Adding shipping time is stressful to livestock and stands to increase injury and potentially death losses, particularly among pigs because they are more subject to stress.” She urges USDA to reconsider the rule in “order to maintain good animal welfare and to foster development of important niche markets” that create marketing opportunities for producers. Grandin is an animal science professor at Colorado State University.

Farm Co-op Sales & Income Second Highest — USDA’s latest report shows that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives had $170 billion in sales in 2009, the second-highest level on record. Net income was $4.4 billion, also the second-highest ever for farmer co-ops. There are an estimated 2,389 farmer co-ops in the United States.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.

Animal Welfare Symposium Targeted for Nov. 30, 2010

The handling of disabled or non-ambulatory animals and euthanasia are two emerging issues for the livestock industry that will be addressed at the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium, Nov. 30, 2010 at the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in Columbus, OH.

Featured speaker is Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and well-known animal-handling expert, who will explain how to humanely handle farm animals, including handling of ill, injured, non-ambulatory or compromised animals. There will be an extended time period available for questions and answers.

Jan Shearer, professor and dairy Extension veterinarian at Iowa State University, will review proper methods of euthanasia and when euthanasia should occur.

Linda Lobao, professor of rural sociology, and Danielle Deemer, doctoral student in rural sociology at The Ohio State University, will present results of recent surveys of Ohioan’s perceptions of farm animal welfare.

Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, will discuss consumers’ perceptions of animal agriculture and the implications for Ohio’s farmers.

Tony Forshey, state veterinarian and board member, will provide an update on the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

A panel of Ohio industry and trade association officials will address animal welfare in Ohio.

To register, go to http://vet.osu.edu/preventive-medicine/AnimalWelfareSymposium, call (614) 292-8727 or fax (614) 292-4335. General registration is $40, $125 with continuing education credit and $25 for students.