National Hog Farmer is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Articles from 2001 In December

Demand for US Pork Booms in Japan due to Mad Cow

Japanese consumers are turning to pork after an outbreak of mad cow disease, according to USDA.

For more information, visit

Wisconsin Firm Fined

State officials have fined Wisconsin-based Hanor-Kronseder Farms, Inc. more than $380,000 for environmental violations at its farms in Woodward County, OK.

The farm was cited for exceeding its capacity by 70,000 head during the last three years, and for overfilling 43 lagoons 657 times since 1977.

The company has agreed to build two more lagoons, rebuild an existing lagoon that reaches into the water table, build a 7-ft. fence to prevent feeder pigs from ripping the plastic linings of the lagoons and repair 27 improperly installed monitoring wells. Buys PigCHAMP, Ltd. has acquired all shares of PigCHAMP, Inc. from a small group of employees and consultants that, just two years ago, had acquired exclusive, worldwide rights to the popular recordkeeping software program.

PigCHAMP, Inc., originally developed at the University of Minnesota, is the leading pork industry software company with over 5,000 producers representing 1.5 million sows.

“PigCHAMP is a great fit for and will complement our existing services to the pork producer,” comments Doug Maus, president and CEO of, Ltd. based in London, Ontario.

Maus says an initial goal will be to develop synergies between the Pig-CHAMP production-tracking capabilities and's marketing initiatives. “Our real goal is to extend what we already have in existence in our cash trading business, to basically add information to the marketing services we already have.”

The pork industry badly needs road signs, says Maus. “In principle, one of the huge values in being able to move this information forward — and one of our strongest goals for the future — is we would hope that we could get better aggregate numbers and be able to provide the industry with the sight that it needs. Clearly, it's our view that if we could move the information in a timely fashion, we can certainly come up with fields of data that at least tell producers how many sows were bred this week, how many pigs were weaned, how many pigs were marketed. If we can get those fields right in aggregate, we can give the industry some tremendous direction as to what is currently being loaded into the supply side of the pipeline,” he says.

Maus also foresees a grow-finish program that clearly shows how fast pigs are moving through the supply pipeline — another factor that seems to set producers' marketing efforts askew.

Windows Application Coming

High on the new owner's priority list is the introduction of a Windows-based version of PigCHAMP. Farms. com has an in-house, internet-based production records system which provides an interface to move DOS-based (PigCHAMP) information into a sequel database. This gives them the ability to migrate and store all existing DOS-based records now.

“We have plans to come out of the gate very early in the New Year with a Windows-based version of PigCHAMP which will enable producers to move their information ‘in’ and ‘out’ of that database,” Maus notes.

Reinforcing the Windows-based initiative, Maus also announced the hiring of sales and customer services representatives Jayne Jackson and Susan Olson. Jackson most recently served as sales and customer service manager for PigTales, while Olson recently served as product manager at, Eagan, MN. Ron Jessen will remain as general manager in PigCHAMP's Apple Valley, MN, headquarters.

Bureau Structure Intact

The service bureau-type structure will be retained, but Maus noted that a complete evaluation will be undertaken to ensure producers at all levels of production are being served.

“We will have to stratify it. We see the bureau as a way of being able to provide a lot of existing clients a comfort level that they are still dealing with their (swine) health care professional, which has been a large part of why those bureaus were set up in the first place.”

It is common for a veterinary consultant to serve as a bureau to collect, input and analyze herd or site performance records in a specific area or group. Similarly, some of the mega-sized operations established a bureau-type structure to evaluate groups of farms within their production system.

Maus is quick to point out, however, a lot of the shared data is done in aggregate so nobody really knows who the customer is. This allows for data comparisons and benchmarking without identifying individuals or farms.

Big Picture Value

Summing up, Maus says: “We really want to help every producer, at all strata, to have an ability to maximize their return on assets and return on equity. To be able to do that, I really believe that we not only have to understand the back end of reproductive and growth data, but we have to have a better flow of information back from the processor as well. Otherwise, it is going to be very difficult to address some of the key industry drivers — such as source verification and food safety. Our future is going to depend on it.”

Pork Board Passes Budget

The National Pork Board approved a budget of $55.6 million in checkoff-funded programs for 2002. Some $45.8 million will be spent on national programs, $9.8 million returned to states for local, checkoff-funded programs.

Increased spending was targeted for biosecurity, animal welfare and communications.

Overall, the National Pork Board targeted 59% of the checkoff funds for promotion, 27% for research and 14% for consumer information (Figure 1).

The Agriculture Department must now approve the budget.

For more on checkoff-funded programs, access

Pork Cooperative Formed

Pork producers from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have formed the Great Lakes Pork Cooperative. Their intention is to create an integrated production system from farm to dinner plate to enhance the value of pork for producers, according to Terry Fleck, executive vice president of the Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition (INPAC).

For two years, a consortium of groups has met to address the competitiveness of the Eastern Corn Belt and how to keep the region viable in the pork industry.

The consortium included the INPAC, Ohio and Michigan pork producers associations, Farm Bureau, Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue universities and all three states' departments of agriculture.

For more information, contact Mike Lemmon, DVM, at (219) 636-7304, Gordon Smiley at (812) 663-8595 or Fleck at (317) 879-3240.

Ileitis by Any Other Name

Swine practitioners and producers are always happy when a definite cause can be attached to a disease problem. When a new disease or condition is first observed on the farm, and then described in laboratories, it seems to garner numerous names along the way.

Such is the case with ileitis. It has been referred to as “garden hose gut,” porcine proliferative enteropathy (PPE), regional ileitis, porcine intestinal adenopathy (PIA) and porcine hemorrhagic enteropathy (PHE). However, it is the ileitis name that has seemed to “stick” in both lay and professional circles. Ileitis doesn't need to go by any other name!

Disease Symptoms

Ileitis was identified in the early '90s, thanks to the efforts of diligent researchers. The pesky Lawsonia intracellularis is a small, bacterial organism that mainly infects the cells of the small intestine. Digestion and absorption can be disrupted, significantly reducing weight gain and feed efficiency. Pigs exhibit diarrhea, often reddish brown in color. Affected pigs may lose body condition and develop signs of wasting.

Another acute form exists where pigs exhibit a very hemorrhagic diarrhea, succumbing soon after onset of the signs. This should not be confused with Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome, which results in blood loss into the small intestine, no diarrhea and sudden death.

Two case reports highlight diagnostic methods, treatment and prevention steps.

Case Study No. 1

Finishers from a three-site, 1,200-sow unit in central Indiana had brownish diarrhea at 18-20 weeks of age, occasional wasting and pale pigs. Also, we routinely observed some diarrhea in pigs 16-18 weeks of age.

We wondered if we could utilize a new serology test for ileitis to help achieve a definitive diagnosis and detect when pigs might be exposed to the Lawsonia bacteria. The idea was to target treatment to the time when exposure first could be documented.

A cross-sectional blood test was done of pigs that were 10, 15, 19, 20-22, and 25 weeks of age. Results clearly indicated that exposure had occurred in the finishers. The first positives on this serology test were in pigs 19 weeks of age and 70% of the 25-week-old pigs were positive.

Since the development of antibodies that react on this test takes two to three weeks, it appeared that exposure was at 16 weeks of age.

Tylosin at the 40 g./ton level was recommended for the finisher diet for growth promotion, in the hopes that it would also suppress the clinical ileitis. This appeared to work very well until last summer, when we noted several finishers losing condition.

Postmortems confirmed gross lesions of ileitis and the Lawsonia organisms were demonstrated with special stains on microscopic exam. The tylosin level in the targeted diet was increased to 100 g./ton indicated for ileitis. This is expected to provide improved control of the ileitis.

Case Study No. 2

A second case of ileitis struck pigs finished in all-in, all-out rooms from a single-site, 600-sow unit. Pigs are sexed by room on this farm.

The ileitis clinical problem was most predictable in the gilt finishers; it was very frustrating as signs often appeared late in the finisher stage (around 200 lb.). It was severe enough that some death loss occurred.

Various medication strategies had been tried over the years. When a new, water-delivered, ileitis vaccine became available, this producer was interested in trying the product to achieve improved disease control. The vaccine is administered through medicator systems. The goal is to have all the vaccine consumed in a four-hour period.

Certain antibiotics must be avoided in the feed (or water) for at least three days before and after vaccination. Also, chlorine or other disinfectants or sanitizers cannot be in the water.

The duration of immunity for this vaccine hasn't been determined beyond seven weeks, but it is expected to be longer. Vaccination should be performed one to two months prior to seroconversion and/or clinical signs.

This vaccine must be stored in ultra-low freezers or used within two weeks of storage in older-style, non-frost-free freezers. Even in these freezers, vaccine should be maintained in original packaging with the dry ice. Storage in newer, frost-free freezers is not recommended.

Therefore, vaccine may need to be used upon receipt. Proper handling and administration are critical to assure efficacy of this tool for ileitis control.

The results in this case have been good so far; other practitioners are reporting encouraging performance with this new vaccine.

Although microbiologists may some day want to rename the causative agent of this disease, my bet is that ileitis by any other name will still be ileitis out in the pig barn.

Pig Know-how Applies to People Issues

Pork producers are in the people business; they just happen to raise hogs.

Dorothy Lecher, human resources director for Prema-Lean Pork and Corya Pork Farm, both near Greensburg, IN, says employee relations is the number one problem affecting the industry. Lecher also manages 140 employees on 12 farms ranging from 1,200 to 5,200 sows.

“Producers tell me they don't know how to manage people, they are more comfortable with pigs,” she says. “We know more about people than we think we do if we relate it back to pigs.”

For example, she equates the replacement rate on a sow herd to the annual turnover rate for employees.

“Producers understand the seasonal impacts on animals; they don't know what the impact is on people,” she says. “I find a higher turnover in September and October by looking at when turnover happens. If employees are going to move, they will move before winter gets here.”

Lecher equates average sow parity to the age and maturity of the group of barn employees.

“If you have 100% turnover, you'll have a brand new group in the barn, and they will act like kids. Their knowledge level is very low,” she explains. “You need someone to stay around to understand all the trends that happen in that sow herd.”

Smaller groups of employees will advance to the mature, “adult” stage quicker than larger groups. Why? The social structure of a small group is less complex than that of a larger group.

Current Employee Needs

Lecher offers this laundry list of employee expectations:

  • Health and dental insurance.

  • Vacation and sick time that rewards long-time employees for their dedication.
  • A retirement program.
  • Career development, including basic training for entry level workers and people skills for managers, and the ability to move from farm to farm within the company.

Future Employee Needs

Lecher stresses that employees will want child care, more flexible hours and fewer work hours in the future.

She urges producers to reconsider the hours they require employees to work and if changes would truly affect performance. She also offers this suggestion on how to reduce hours worked/week: Employees work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 4 to 4.5 hours on Saturday or Sunday on alternating weekends. Under this schedule, the employees who work a weekend shift get Wednesday afternoon off, making a 42.5 hour week.

“If you wean on Monday and Thursday, Wednesday afternoon is the catch-all day. That's the day half the crew can leave and you aren't going to miss something,” she says.

Getting Good Employees

Lisa Tokach, DVM, is a partner at the Abilene Animal Hospital, Abilene, KS, and performs human resources duties for Kansas Swine Alliance.

She suggests these moves to get good potential employees to notice your company:

  • Cultivate a good reputation by presenting to the local civic groups. Spending time with the local Lions or Rotary club educates the non-farm groups and gets you noticed. A slide show or video can give folks a look inside the barns. “I'm amazed what people think goes on in those big barns,” she says. “I'd rather that they know what actually goes on than what they think is going on.”

  • Get involved with the local FFA chapter. Work with the local ag in the classroom program.

  • Donate some pork for local group events. “It doesn't cost much, but it goes a long way with the community,” she says.

  • Have a Christmas party at a local establishment to reward the people you already employ and show others that it's a fun company to work for.

Writing Help Wanted Ads

Tokach suggests reading the classified section to get ideas.

“Pick up the paper and act like you are unemployed or want a better job,” she suggests. “Look through the ads and see what gets your attention.”

Putting a typical help wanted ad that reads “Farrowing assistant needed at XYZ Farm; Competitive salary and benefits. Call 123-4567” will get typical results, she says.

Tokach suggests using bigger type and a headline that reads something like: “This Little Piggy Needs a Caretaker.” Stress that the barns are environmentally controlled, work hours and that experience is not necessary. A fun advertisement that is informative will get more and better responses.

Ten Skills for Good Listening

Good employee/employer relations start with good, two-way communication. Ronald Hanson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln agribusiness program director, outlines 10 good listening skills to ensure employee/employer concerns are heard.

  1. Do not pass judgment until you have understood what the other person has said.

    “You should always give the person a chance to explain,” Hanson says.

  2. Do not add viewpoints or change what the other person has said. The key is really listening, being open to what the employee is saying, through both verbal and non-verbal communication.

  3. Do not permit your attention to drift away while the other person is still talking. Don't do paperwork, check e-mail or answer the phone. Instead close the office door and focus on him/her.

  4. Do not interrupt or change the subject. “This is what I call cutting them off at the pass,” Hanson says. “We change the subject from uncomfortable topics to the weather or football.”

  5. Do not close your mind. “If your attitude is set beforehand, you may as well go behind the barn and talk to a tree,” he says.

  6. Do not finish for the other person. Even if he/she takes extra time to develop a thought or explain an issue, allow him/her to fully express themselves.

  7. Do not permit “wishful listening” or “selective hearing.” You must listen to everything and not select the items that you want to hear, he says.

  8. Do not rehearse your response. “Do not formulate your rebuttal ahead of time,” he says. “When you rehearse, you are not listening to the other person. They may have said something important and you weren't listening.”

  9. Do not put the person off. “Saying ‘we'll talk about it later’ means the discussion isn't going to happen,” Hanson says.

  10. Don't rush. Do not say “This better be quick,” or “I'm in a hurry,” he suggests.
    — Gretchen Schlosser

Kennedy Suing Tyson Foods

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the head of the Waterkeeper Alliance, is representing property owners along the Missouri/Oklahoma border in an environmental lawsuit against Tyson Foods.

The citizens allege that the Tyson processing plant near Noel, MO, discharges wastewater into the Elk River, which flows from Missouri into Oklahoma's Grand Lake of the Cherokees. The suit also seeks to make Tyson liable for manure, spread by contract growers on their land, which is allegedly leaching into the lake.

Kennedy and the Waterkeeper Alliance are also suing Smithfield Foods over environmental issues in North Carolina's coastal plain.

product news

Compact Power Washers

Landa introduces a new line of compact natural gas- or propane-heated, hot water pressure washers. The VHG (Vertical Hot Water Gas) line has nine stationary models, which range from 3.5 to 4.8 gal./min. in volume and 2,000 to 3,000 psi of pressure. All the models are 24 in. wide, 53 in. long and 49 in. tall. Features include an industrial-grade electric motor, 50 ft. of Tuff-Skin hose and instructions in English, Spanish or French.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101)

Prestarter Feed

Vigortone has recently released Propel, a prestarter product made of meal and pellets for young pigs. It contains dried whey, oat groats, fish meal, whey protein concentration and dried skim milk, plus human grade cereal grains. The company recommends feeding for three days, starting at weaning. Available in 50- lb. bags.
(Circle Reply Card No. 102)

Building System

Universal Building Supplies Ltd. is the distributor of the Royal Building Systems in western Canada and the northern United States. The system uses high-tech polymers that serve as the formwork for 4-in. to 8-in. concrete walls that can be used for hog barns. The system fully insulates the barn, which is energy-efficient, rodent-resistant and maintenance-free.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)

Boar Line

Bodmin Swine Genetics announces the Bodmin High Lean Terminal Boar Line 950 SF. Initial results from the first cross on the line include 7.4 sq. in. loineye area, 63.04% estimated lean yield, 2.65 in. loin muscle depth and 0.31 in. fat depth. The line is also stress gene free.
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)

Proximity Switch

Chore-Time has released the SENSOR PLUS electronic proximity switch, which makes it easier for livestock producers to set a maximum run time for auger systems. The switch is designed for the company's FLEX-AUGER feed conveying system. The switch features an adjustable delay from 0 to 60 seconds. The unit is part of Chore-Time's SMART package of systems for feeding, watering, ventilation, cooling, heating, feed conveying and storage.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)

Financial Software

Red Wing Business Systems, Inc. has released the 5.0 version of AgCHEK, an agricultural accounting and financial management system. The new version includes enhancements to one-step account inquiry, six new transaction entry options, a pop-up reminder for past due invoices and new income statement options. Other new features include immediate viewing of transaction history for any account, two new report formats, optional subtotaling and consolidation of multiple business units on income statements and a more closely integrated backup/restore utility.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)

Patch Tape

Venture Tape introduces a unique woven patch tape made of polyolefin film laminated to a bi-directional woven copolymer alloy. The adhesive stands up to below-freezing temperatures and is not affected by damp, humid conditions.
(Circle Reply Card No. 107)


Prima Technologies introduces the Prima Tech Vaccinator and Prima Tech Bottle Mount Vaccinator. The titanium plastic products feature a notched barrel nut for quick needle changes, easier-to-read barrel numbers and larger dose adjuster. They also have hooks so the vaccinators can hang on a processing cart. The bottle mount allows for quick changes of bottles and easier use of smaller dose (<100 cc.) bottles. The vaccinators are available in 2, 5 or 6 cc. sizes.
(Circle Reply Card No. 108)

Direct-Fed Microbial

Chr. Hanson's BioPlus 2B has recently earned European Union approval as a microbial feed additive for piglets. The product provides a source of Bacillus Iicheniformis and Bacillus subtilis, which serves as a replacement for feed grade antibiotics or can be used with feed grade antibiotics. It is available in Canada and the U.S. for all classes of swine.
(Circle Reply Card No. 109)

Aiding New York Producers

A new law provides additional protection for livestock producers in New York.

Gov. George Pataki signed a bill that specifies manure processing in agricultural districts as part of a “farm operation” and is thereby protected against unreasonable challenges.

New York state law and the constitution recognize agricultural districts that include plowing, harvesting and fertilizing as protected activities. Manure processing now joins that group.