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Iowa Pork Congress Slated for Jan. 28-29

From public health to production issues, the Iowa Pork Congress, Jan. 28-29, 2009, has topics of interest for everyone. The show is at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, IA.

Seminars on Jan. 28 include:
Kelly Donham, DVM, University of Iowa, and Risto Rautiainen, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, will present “Producing Pork with Employee and Public Health in Mind.”

Des Moines, IA, attorney Eldon McAfee of Beving, Swanson & Forrest will provide an “Iowa Environmental Regulations Update.”

John Mabry, director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University, will discuss “Calculating Production Costs to Determine Your Bottom Line.”

Alex Ramirez, DVM, of Iowa State University, will offer “An Introduction to Swine Necropsy.”

Mike Brumm of Brumm Swine Consultancy will talk on “Measuring and Controlling Energy Costs.”

Talks Jan. 29 include:
Anna Johnson and Suzanne Millman, both of Iowa State University, will address “Sow Housing and Animal Well-Being.”

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, Inc., will speak on “Managing Inputs and Marketing: Where Do We Go from Here?”

Dave VanWaus, Iowa Pheasants Forever, will cover “Hogs for Hens: Improving Aesthetics of Your Operation.”

Dave Stender of Iowa State University Extension and niche pork producers will provide “Virtual Tours of Niche Production Facilities.”

A human resources panel will offer “Keys to Successful Employee Management.”

And Thomas Glanville of Iowa State University will speak on “Mortality Composting and Emergency Planning.”

Find out more about seminars by contacting Tyler Bettin via e-mail at [email protected] or call (515) 225-7675.

NPPC Lauds Iowa Pick For Agriculture Secretary

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has applauded the choice of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Vilsack was nominated by President-Elect Barack Obama on Dec. 17 to be the 30th USDA secretary.

“Tom Vilsack knows production agriculture and the pork industry and will make a good secretary of agriculture,” says NPPC President Bryan Black, a Canal Winchester, OH, pork producer.

Vilsack was first elected Iowa governor in 1998. He won reelection in 2002. He chose not to run for a third term.

Currently, Vilsack is a legal counsel in the Des Moines, IA, office of the Minneapolis-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

The U.S. Senate is expected to consider Vilsack’s appointment when the 111th Congress convenes in January.

Swine Flu Virus Transmission Across Species Studied

Why some influenza virus strains are capable of transmitting virus between species is being investigated using new molecular technology, according to Y.M. Saif, DVM, professor and head of the Food Animal Health Research Program, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) at Ohio State University at Wooster.

Current research at the OARDC suggests that the ability of influenza viruses to transmit between species is strain specific.

Some strains of swine influenza virus (SIV) belonging to the same type (H3N2) have the ability to transmit from swine to turkeys and vice versa. Others will simply transmit in one direction, and some are not transmissible between the two species.

In 1978, Saif reported on the first evidence of natural and experimental transmission of the H1N1 influenza A viruses from swine to turkeys. At that time, it was thought that influenza viruses are host-specific and not able to cross the species barrier.

In 2004, Saif recorded natural outbreaks of H3N2 influenza A viruses in turkey breeder flocks. Laboratory studies indicated these viruses are the so-called triple reassortants, since they include genetic elements of viruses from swine, human and avian species.

Later, extensive studies confirmed the interspecies transmission of H3N2 viruses.

The molecular basis for interspecies transmission is not known.

To solve that puzzle, Saif is currently attempting to delineate the molecular basis for interspecies transmission using a molecular technology known as reverse genetics. Early results indicate that the hemagglutinin gene is probably the main determinant of whether a given strain of the virus will cross the species line. Saif’s laboratory at OARDC is seeking to uncover the specific molecules on that gene that will control this characteristic.

Meanwhile, an H1N1 virus that was isolated from a county fair in Ohio in 2007, and a similar virus isolated from people who came into contact with the swine at the fair, are being used for intraspecies transmission studies.

Learning the attributes of influenza viruses that contribute to the interspecies transmission will be useful for planning control strategies.

Researcher: Y. M. Saif, Food Animal Health Research Program/OARDC at The Ohio State University at Wooster, OH. Contact Saif by phone (330) 263-3743, fax (330) 263-3677 or e-mail [email protected].

Farm, Plant Measures Guard Against Salmonella

Food safety programs (Pork Quality Assurance-Plus) at the farm and at the packing plant (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) are effectively reducing salmonella levels in the food chain.

A literature review funded by Pork Checkoff looked at the introduction and amplification of salmonella in the harvest process to the cooler.

The results are based on 15 publications which described 40 studies that evaluated the presence of salmonella on pork carcasses during processing.

The review concluded that there is little evidence that salmonella is introduced into the pork product as it moves along the processing chain to the cooler.

The carcass sampling points evaluated were after bleeding, after stunning, after scalding, after dehairing, after singeing, after polishing, after evisceration, after washing and after chilling. The studies evaluated salmonella prevalence as the carcass moved from sampling points along the processing line.

There were 48 unique comparisons of salmonella prevalence between points on the processing line in the 40 studies. In 40 comparisons, there was either no change or a decrease in salmonella prevalence on the carcass. Of the eight cases where salmonella prevalence increased as the carcasses moved closer to the cooler, only four times was the increase more than 10%.

Overall, the median prevalence of salmonella-positive carcasses evaluated in the cooler was 0%, and the mean was 4%. This compares to the median prevalence of salmonella evaluated at bleeding of 37% and the mean of 58%, suggesting that in general, the processing procedures in place resulted in decreased carcass contamination as the carcass moved toward the cooler.

Researcher: Annette O’Connor, DVM, Iowa State University. Contact O’Connor by phone (515) 294-5012, fax (515) 294-1072 or e-mail [email protected].

Natural Bacteriophage May Lower Salmonella Incidence

Bacteriophages, viruses that are found in nature that can kill bacteria, including salmonella, may hold the key to solving one of the most common causes of foodborne illness in humans and that can also affect swine production efficiency.

Generic phages were found to be fairly widely distributed in commercial swine, but only six out of 360 commercial pigs were positive for anti-salmonella bacteriophage.

When these phage were inserted into pigs that were artificially infected with salmonella, the salmonella populations in phage-treated pigs were lower compared to untreated controls, according to studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS).

There were also fewer pigs infected by salmonella in the cecum (at the large intestine) in the phage-treated groups.

“While we do not suggest that we have a complete solution for salmonella, our data indicates that the concept of using phage to reduce salmonella in swine is valid and feasible,” says Todd R. Callaway of Texas A&M University.

“We are continuing to examine commercial swine to obtain more potent anti-salmonella phage to be able to maximize this potential pathogen reduction strategy,” he adds.

The research is being funded by the National Pork Board.

Researcher: Todd R. Callaway, USDA, ARS, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center at College Station, TX. Contact by phone (979) 260-9374, fax (979) 260-9332 or e-mail [email protected].

Trim Boar Tusks With Care

Boars continually grow tusks that pose a safety hazard to human handlers and other pigs.

To remove the danger, tusks are sometimes trimmed once or twice a year.

Tusks can be removed using hoof nippers or bolt cutters. Less frequently used – but the recommended method – is orthopedic wire is used as a “saw” to cut off tusks.

Tusks are generally trimmed very close to the gum line without the use of painkillers or sedation.

The majority of boar tusks have pulp extending above the gum line. The pulp contains nerves. Therefore, trimming may cause pain and leave the tusk open to infection.

A research study was conducted in Ontario to learn more about the structure and the presence of nerves in the pulp (soft tissue) of the tusk. See Figure 1 for a cross-sectional view of the boar tusk.

The mandibles of 51 cull boars were collected from a commercial slaughter plant (Figure 2), which contained 102 tusks. Tusk length, pulp exposure and gum condition were assessed using a scoring system.

Of the 102 tusks examined, 51% were assigned scores of 2 or 3, which are associated with pulp chamber exposure; 44% also had scores associated with moderate to severe gum inflammation, indicating that tissue irritation/inflammation may be linked with trimmed tusks (See Figure 3, Figure 4, and Figure 5).

Analyses performed on seven intact tusks following decalcification showed that the tusk pulp chamber, on average, extended to the level of the gum line. In four of the seven tusks, the pulp chamber extended beyond the gum line. Figure 1 illustrates the location of the gum line in relation to the tusk.

Sections of five tusks examined for the presence of nerves revealed that all five contained nervous tissue. In general, nerves were most common at the tusk base.

In two of the five tusks, nerve fibers extended beyond the gum line. Further research needs to focus on differentiating between autonomic nerves (which control the blood vessels) and sensory nerves (which detect pain or pressure) within boar tusk pulp tissue.

Researchers concluded that boar tusks do have nerves. Tusk trimming can expose the pulp which contains the nerve and contribute to the development of gum inflammation.

As a result, researchers recommended avoiding or reducing tusk trimming. Consider housing and transporting boars individually to avoid the need to trim tusks.

If tusk trimming must be done, cut the tusk about an inch beyond the gum line to avoid cutting into the pulp chamber, they suggest.

Researchers: K. Bovey, J. DeLay and T. Widowski, all of the University of Guelph; and P. Lawlis, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Contact Widowski by phone (519) 824-4120 (ext. 52408), fax (519) 836-9873 or e-mail [email protected].

Sow & Pig Care - Birth to Weaning Poster

The guidelines outlined in the Sow & Pig Care - Birth to Weaning Poster help illustrate the importance of quality care and treatment of the sow before, during and after farrowing, as well as the care, processing and handling of the new litter.

The poster is divided into two parts:

  1. Sow Care & Management – preparation before farrowing through weaning of the litter.
  2. Managing & Processing Newborn Piglets – from birth to weaning day.
This poster is sponsored by Newsham Choice Genetics as a service to the pork industry and those who serve as caretakers of the near-term sow or gilt through the successful farrowing and nursing periods that culminates at weaning.

Go to to view and download the poster. Up to three copies are available free of charge from the poster’s sponsor, Newsham Choice Genetics. To order, click here. Larger quantities will be shipped COD.

U.S. Pork Exports Continue Surprising Growth Trend

Despite the global economic downturn, U.S. pork exports continue to prosper, according to October numbers compared to a year ago.

Pork exports rose 46% in volume and 55.5% in value over October 2007.

Pork and pork variety meat sales in October reached 425.4 million lb. valued at $487 million, setting a new record for monthly export value. Export volume climbed 18% over the previous month and trailed only May and June 2008 for the most pork exported in a single month.

For January through October, exports were up 67% to 3.8 billion lb., with value topping $4.1 billion.

Some countries, like China, with large stocks of frozen pork, are having trouble selling under current market conditions. Just a few months ago, prices for meat imports were much higher, says Erin Daley, economist for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Japan retains its ranking as the number one destination for U.S. pork. October pork sales to Japan set another monthly record at 92.5 million lb. valued at $158.5 million. For the year, U.S. pork exports are up 27% in volume to 832.5 million lb. valued at $1.29 billion. Japan accounts for 39% of U.S. pork export value.

U.S. pork exports to Mexico set a new monthly record in October at 87.8 million lb., and ranks as the second-largest destination for U.S. pork for the month. For the first nine months of 2008, the United States supplied Mexico with 676.9 million lb. of pork worth $549.6 million, an increase of 38% in volume and 52% in value over last year.

The credit crisis, the depreciation of the ruble, falling oil prices and general economic uncertainty didn’t prevent Russia from setting another record for U.S. pork and variety meat imports in October at nearly 70 million lb. For the year, total pork exports to Russia totaled 441.7 million lb. valued at $435.5 million, a 173% increase in volume and 184% increase in value.

For China/Hong Kong, U.S. pork exports in October totaled 60.3 million lb., up 21% from September and 15% above a year ago. For 2008, exports were 789.2 million lb. worth $618.4 million, a 178% increase in volume and 209% increase in value.

For the year, Canada’s purchases of U.S. pork were 307.9 million lb., up 18% from a year ago, while purchases in October dipped below 2007 levels to 30.3 million lb.

South Korean imports of U.S. pork in October increased 24% to 22.7 million lb., and for the year were up 48% to 247.5 million lb. valued at $240.4 million, 33% above last year.

U.S. pork exports to the European Union reached 11.7 million lb. in October, more than double last year’s volume, putting the 10-month total for 2008 at 98.3 million lb. valued at $121.6 million.

Study Tracks Feeder Settings' Impact on Growth Performance

Feed intake and daily gain increased as feeder openings increased, but feed efficiency improved the most at the middle feeder adjustment setting in recent Kansas State University (KSU) grow-finish studies.

KSU researchers set out to determine the effect of different feeder settings on growth performance and whether diet type influenced the optimal feeder setting. Two experiments were conducted in a double curtain-sided, deep-pit commercial swine facility with a totally slotted floor.

Each pen was equipped with a stainless steel Staco dry self-feeder and one cup waterer. Each five-hole, single-sided feeder had a feed pan dimension of 60 in. long × 7 in. wide × 5.75 in. high.

The feeder settings were based on the factory-cut holes in the side of the feeder. Moving a dial from one hole to the next adjusted the feeder gate. Feeder setting 1 was the most open setting, while setting 5 was the most closed feeder setting.

Researchers measured feeder gap openings so the data collected could be applied to other types/brands of dry feeders. The distance between the feeder trough and the top of the feed plate was measured on both the left and right sides of the feeder in both trials. The width of the feed plate was subtracted from the height measurement to determine gap opening.

The feed gate was designed to have some “give” or “play” to allow for feed agitation. Thus, the gap opening had a low and high position, which was measured when the feed plate was in the lowest and highest positions possible.

Gap opening measurements on the left and right sides of the feeder were obtained and averaged for each respective position, low or high, for each feeder. The high gap opening measurements and percentage of pan coverage were plotted and the resulting graph was used to develop a regression equation. This regression equation makes it possible to estimate the pan coverage at any feeder gap opening.

The first experiment, a 70-day study, took place in the late spring and early summer of 2007. A total of 1,170 barrows and gilts were randomly assigned among five treatments, with nine replications per treatment. Each pen contained 23-28 pigs with an equal distribution of barrows and gilts.

Pigs were fed a corn-soybean meal-based experimental diet in meal form. The feeder settings were set at 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 for the five experimental treatments. Feeders were left at their respective settings for the duration of the trial.

Pigs and feeders were weighed on the first day of the experiment, then again on Days 15, 30, 42, 55 and 69 to determine ADG, ADFI and F/G.

Photos were taken of each feed pan during Weeks 2 and 6 and pictures were individually scored for pan coverage. Gap openings were measured according to the same procedures used in the first experiment.

From Day 0-30 and Day 30-69, pigs fed from feeders with increasing feeder openings had increased ADG and ADFI (Table 4). Overall, there were no interactions between feeder setting and diet type for growth performance in Experiment 2. Diet type did not affect growth performance (Table 5).

As feeder openings increased, ADG and ADFI increased. Pigs on feeder setting 1 grew fastest. When the setting was increased from 3 to 5 (the most closed setting), there was a large decrease in ADG. Optimal F/G occurred when feeders were on setting 3.

As the feeder setting increased, low gap opening and high gap opening decreased (Table 6). As feeder setting increased (decreasing gap opening), the percentage of the feeder pan covered with feed decreased for Weeks 2 and 6 (Table 7). Feed pan coverage at each gap opening was similar to coverage in the first experiment. Approximately 50% of the feed pan was covered with the high gap opening of 1.15 in. (Figure 1 and Figure 2).

KSU researchers concluded that feeder setting 3 was optimal. The average gap opening at that setting — from the feed trough to the bottom of the feed plate — was approximately 1.15 in. when the feed plate was in the high position. The amount of feed covering the bottom surface of the feeder pan averaged 61% at setting 3. However, the range for individual feeders on setting 3 was large — ranging from 14 to 93%.

On the basis of this data, KSU researchers recommend feeders be adjusted to allow feed to cover slightly more than half of the feed pan without feed accumulating in the corners.

Researchers: Alan Duttlinger; Steve Dritz, DVM; Mike Tokach; Joel DeRouchey; Jim Nelssen; and Robert Goodband, Kansas State University. Contact Duttlinger at (785) 532-1270, or email [email protected].

Dam Parity Influences Litter Performance, Pig Health

University of Nebraska researchers have confirmed earlier work indicating that sow parity affects the health status of her progeny.

The research team evaluated litter performance and the production and passive transfer of immunoglobulins (Ig) {antibodies} in Parity 1 (P1) dams vs. Parity 4 (P4) dams and their progeny.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies protect the mucosal surfaces from infection. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies provide protection against viruses, bacteria and antitoxins and are found in most tissues and plasma.

Researchers found:

Litter weight tended to be greater for P4 progeny compared to P1 progeny.

Dam parity didn't appear to influence circulating Ig in dams during gestation or at farrowing. But IgA concentrations were generally higher for P4 sows than P1 gilts in samples of colostrum and milk. And serum IgG concentrations were greater for P4 progeny compared to P1 progeny across all preweaning samples.

Dams (Large White × Landrace) were first-parity gilts and fourth-parity sows that farrowed over a 22-day period. Dams were housed in stalls during gestation and moved to farrowing crates about five days prior to their expected farrowing date.

All piglets from each litter were weighed on Day 0, 7, 14 and 19 (weaning).

Blood samples were collected from sows during gestation on Day 90 and 114 and a final time after farrowing.

Samples during lactation were obtained at Day 0 (colostrum), Day 7 (mid-lactation) and Day 14 (late-lactation).

Blood samples were collected from six piglets from each litter on Days 1, 7 and 14.

Dam and litter performance are illustrated in Table 1. Data shows parity had no effect on number of pigs/litter or on litter weaning weights.

But P4 dams tended to have pigs with heavier bodyweights compared to P1 dams, and P4 dams had less preweaning mortality and heavier litter weaning weights.

Figure 1 depicts progeny bodyweights of gilts (P1) and Parity 4 (P4) sows. The P4 progeny had heavier bodyweights among all time points from farrowing to weaning than P1 progeny.

Researchers acknowledged that they expected to observe greater differences in dam and litter performance, but based on previous work, it's possible that the greatest differences in performance occurs between P1 and P2 or P3 dams.

IgG and IgA antibodies in P1 and P4 dams during gestation and after farrowing are represented in Figure 2. While IgA increased as the dams approached farrowing, IgG levels declined over time, with the lowest concentrations observed at farrowing. Researchers suggest this result may contribute to the higher levels of IgA in mid- and late-lactation milk as compared to IgG.

IgG and IgA antibodies in colostrum and milk during lactation are shown in Figure 3. IgG concentrations were unaffected by parity. But IgG antibodies averaged among both parities were greater for colostrum than mid- and late-lactation samples. For IgA, concentrations tended to be greater in P4 dams than P1 dams, and again the greatest concentrations were observed during early lactation (colostrum).

There were no parity-by-time interactions for IgG or IgA antibodies in serum from P1 and P4 progeny (Figure 4). However, among all time points, piglets from P4 dams had greater circulating IgG than P1 dams. Parity had no effect on IgA levels in P1 and P4 progeny, but P1 progeny had lower (numerically) IgA levels compared to P4 progeny at Days 1 and 7.

In conclusion, it appears that mature dams (P3+) may provide their progeny with performance advantages due to their contributions of passive immunity. However, future research is needed to determine if these observations are consistent throughout the sow's reproductive lifetime.

Researchers: Erin Carney, Huyen Tran, Justin Bundy, Roman Moreno, Matthew Anderson, Jeffrey Perkins, Phillip Miller and Thomas Burkey, all of the University of Nebraska. Contact Burkey by phone (402) 472-6423, fax (402) 472-6362 or e-mail [email protected].