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Articles from 2017 In February


Time to do what is right for the pig

AASV annual meeting 2017

One health, one world and one passion for the pig was the clear message at this year’s American Association of Swine Veterinarian annual conference. A record number of veterinarians and students gathered in Denver to discuss what is best for the pig.

Regulatory measures and consumers demand transparency has changed the veterinarian’s role on the farm or has it? 

Today’s consumers want more transparency. As J.J. Jones from The Center for Food Integrity explains, in an AASV session, more than 50% of U.S. consumers think that transparency on animal treatment is imperative to build trust in food companies. This statement should not be taken lightly but leave hog farmers questioning just exactly what level of transparency the meat-eating consumer really wants.

At the same time, the swine business is dealing with a storm of regulations. The pork industry often spends valuable time sifting through regulations, proposed legislation and rulemaking procedures in the name of keeping safe, healthy pork on consumer’s plates.

However, with all the noise surrounding food animal production, it is easy to lose focus on the important component of the swine business. Between the anti-animal agriculture agenda and the increasing regulations, America’s pig farmers and the veterinarians that serve them find themselves torn in many directions. As Matthew Turner, DVM, tells the AASV “As veterinarians, we need to do what is right for the pig at all times.”

Turner’s message was echoed by many speakers throughout the AASV conference — a good reminder for everyone involved in the swine business.

The veterinarian is an essential part in a pig farmer’s success. Veterinarians have great power. Yet, great power comes with great responsibility, especially when it comes to antimicrobial stewardship. Veterinarians need to take their leadership role seriously and exercise every opportunity to advocate for the pig and pig caretaker.

Be that as it may, even as the regulatory hoops and the consumer demands require additional time and grows tiresome. It is evident from the one-on-one discussion at annual gathering for swine veterinarians that the passion for the pig and science that guides the swine business has never expired.

Fundamentally, the swine veterinarian still has the No. 1 job of keeping the pig healthy. The practices, tools and medications may have evolved, but the immense level of care has never disappeared.

The swine veterinarian community is highly invested into the pork business. While the swine veterinarian needs to make a living, the investment goes beyond monetary involvement. The discussion at the annual gathering is not about how to make a fast buck, but a deeper discussion on how to effectively help America’s pig farmers to do right for the pig by leveraging science and practical measures to produce wholesome, safe pork for the global table.

(Preview) Being a swine veterinarian is more than a paycheck

One health, one world and one passion for the pig was the clear message at this year’s American Association of Swine Veterinarian.  A record number of veterinarians and students gathered in Denver to discuss what is best for the pig.

Regulatory measures and consumers demand transparency has changed the veterinarian role on the farm or has it? 

Today’s consumers want more transparency. As J.J. Jones from The Center for Food Integrity explains, in AASV session, more than 50% of US consumers think that transparency on animal treatment is imperative to build trust in food companies. This statement should not be taken lightly but leave hog farmers questioning just exactly what level of transparency the meat-eating consumer really wants.

At the same time, the swine business is dealing with a storm of regulations.  The pork industry often spends valuable time sifting through regulations, proposed legislation and rulemaking procedures in the name of keeping safe, healthy pork on consumer’s plate.

However, with all the noise surrounding food animal production, it is easy to lose focus on the important component of the swine business. Between the anti-animal agriculture agenda and the increasing regulations, America’s pig farmers and the veterinarians that serve them find themselves torn in many directions.  As Matthew Turner, DVM, tells the AASV “As veterinarians, we need to do what is right for the pig at all times.”

Turner’s message was echoed by many speakers throughout the AASV conference - a good reminder for everyone involved in the swine business.

The veterinarian is an essential part in a pig farmer’s success. Veterinarians have great power. Yet, great power comes with great responsibility, especially when it comes to antimicrobial stewardship.  Veterinarians need to take their leadership role serious and exercise every opportunity to advocate for the pig and pig caretaker.

Be that as it may, even as the regulatory hoops and the consumer demands require additional time and grows tiresome. It is evident from the one-on-one discussion at annual gathering for swine veterinarians that the passion for the pig and science that guides the swine business has never expired.

Fundamentally, the swine veterinarian still has the number one job of keeping the pig health.  The practices, tools and medications may have evolved, but the level of care has never disappeared.

The swine veterinarian community is highly invested into the pork business.   While the swine veterinarian needs to make a living, the investment goes beyond monetary involvement.  The discussion about at the annual gathering is not about how to make a fast buck but a deeper discussion on how to effectively help America’s pig farmers to do right for the pig by leveraging science and practical measures to produce wholesome, safe pork for the global table.

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-02-28-17

We continue to see the weather fluctuating between the seasons here in our region.

Consumer confidence is at highest level in 15 years, both improved in February. Overall, consumer expect economy to continue expanding in months ahead.

Is all of the tough trade talk torpedoing pork trade with the world? Top formed last week and it appears big worry for futures market is tough trade stance carved against China and Mexico by Trump. Total frozen pork stocks down 16% from a year. Futures market forecasting downward change in demand. 

Some changes at Ohio based Bob Evans restaurants. The chain will add brunch menu every day.

MORNING-MidwestDigest-02-28-17

Fewer than 33 million people watching Oscars. Smallest audience in more than 9 years.

This is the day that Donald Trump will torpedo the Obama administration WOTUS rule.

Folks in Minnesota who want to buy booze on Sunday will no longer have to cross the state lines to do so if bill working through Legislature makes it to governor. Gov. Dayton said he won't veto the bill. 

The southern Illinois town of West Frankfort has rallied around Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, who manages the La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant. He has been in the states for 20 years, but has never obtained legal status. He's become a real role model in the town. Letters on his behalf by mayor, police chief, even county prosecutor.

Farm Progress American – February 28, 2017

Max Armstrong offers insight into the Ag in the Classroom program that aims to improve agricultural literacy in the classroom. The programs seek to improve student achievement through agriculture knowledge and encouraging teachers to put ag knowledge in the classroom, which also boost student knowledge of food production.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

What is the value of your closeout data?

National Hog Farmer Sows in gestation stalls

By Ron Ketchem, Mark Rix and Valerie Duttlinger, Swine Management Services LLC, Fremont, Neb.

At Swine Management Services, we have a saying “pigs tell all.” The question is, are you listening?

Producers spend more and more time collecting data, but the real value of collecting the data comes in analyzing the data and making decisions that are sound based on what the data says. This is the tough part for most producers for several reasons. In order to make sound decisions on closeouts the data needs to be accurate and it needs to be standardized so that the comparisons truly have value.

SMS created a filtering system for removing data that is either too good or too bad from the benchmarking. In Table 1 are the ranges for the filters SMS uses. These filters can be changed, but normally we leave them with a wide range. The number of closeouts that are filtered out was 12% for the last updated the benchmarking.

Swine Management Services

Every producer should have a check list with the range numbers like the one in Table 2 for the data entry staff to compare every closeout against and any closeouts that are outside of the range need to be check for accuracy. From the closeout data we get, most producers are not checking their closeouts. A lot of the time it was that two ton of feed that would not fit in the right bin at the farm and was placed in to another one which is a different group of pigs. Did anyone tell the office? Also, could market pigs be sent to market from another group to fill out the truck? Then sale weights, number of pigs and value appear in a different closeout. If you run reports and look at averages they are probably right, but the problem is the accuracy of individual closeouts.

Swine Management Services

At SMS, we have created an SMS Production Index to rank closeouts for easier diagnosis and comparison. We use death loss and dead on arrivals, culls and lights, average daily gain and adjusted feed conversion. Every closeout gets a rank of zero to 100 based on the percentile rank in the four categories.

SMS has developed a model to compare all closeouts to and standardize input cost and market prices so that closeouts can be compared over time without feed cost and market prices skewing the data. We recalculate all the closeouts against the SMS model. When we look at the opportunity dollars per pig we use the Top 25% as the base to compare to. The last run of the database showed an average closeout have a $12.17 opportunity dollars per pig compared to the top 25% and the bottom 25% have a $24.11 opportunity dollars per pig which can be seen in Table 3.

Swine Management Services

The average daily gain, Table 3, is 1.83 for all the closeouts and Chart 1 is unfiltered closeouts has trend line shows a nice improvement over the eight years, but the variation is tremendous. Chart 1 shows ADG from 1.0 to 2.45. The top 25% of the closeouts average daily gain is 1.98 and the bottom 25% of the closeouts are 1.69.

Swine Management Services

The adjusted feed conversion, Table 3, is 2.77 with a flat trend line over the eight years, but again the variation is tremendous. Chart 2 is unfiltered adjusted feed conversions closeouts with some as low at 2.0 to a high of 4.0 pound of feed per pound of gain. The top 25% of the closeout adjusted feed conversion is 2.53 and the bottom 25% of the closeouts are 3.05.

Swine Management Services

It takes time to evaluate the data, to make sure it is accurate data, to compare it to past history, to compare it to the industry, and most importantly to learn from it and determine what can be done to get better performance in the future. Are you spending the time it takes to get the value out of your closeout data?

Table 4 provides the 52-week rolling averages for 11 production numbers represented in the SMS Production Index. The numbers are separated by 90-100%, the 70-90%, the 50-70%, the 30-50% and the 0-30% groups. We also included the 13-week, 26-week and 12-quarter averages. These numbers represent what we feel are the key production numbers to look at to evaluate the farm’s performance.

Swine Management Services

At SMS, our mission statement is to provide “Information solutions for the swine industry.” We feel with the creation of different SMS Benchmarking databases for all production areas we now have more detailed information to share with the swine industry.

If you have questions or comments about these columns, or if you have a specific performance measurement that you would like us to write about, please contact: mark.rix@swinems.com, ron.ketchem@swinems.com or valerie.duttlinger@swinems.com. We enjoy being a part of the National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview team. Previous Production Preview columns can be found at NationalHogFarmer.com.

Training sows, gilts key to ESF success

National Pork Board Sows and gilts in a group housing pen with electronic sows feeding system

More and more U.S. pork producers are moving away from individual gestation stalls to housing gilts and sows in groups. However, producers face the challenge of being able to monitor how much feed each female consumes and how efficiently they are using that feed. To keep tabs on feed intake, producers have started to install electronic sow feeding systems. Though in a group setting, each female enters a feeding station by herself, a gate locks behind her. Each female has a transponder in her ear tag, and this transponder triggers the computer-controlled feeder to dispense the specific amount of feed for the individual. Unless a computer glitch occurs, or a transponder is lost, the systems work as they should.

Progressive producers desire as much data on each female as possible, and researchers at Kansas State University decided to take a look at feed efficiency by stage of gestation for the sows and gilts. “To our knowledge, no one has ever looked at gestation feed efficiency by stage of gestation in a large group housing set-up, and we thought it would help with determining nutrient requirements and feeding recommendations,” says Bob Goodband, Kansas State University animal science professor. “As the swine industry transitions to group housing, computerized feeding programs will offer opportunities to really fine-tune gestation feeding programs for sows.”

Two Kansas State University graduate students – Lori Thomas and Carine Vier – went to a hog farm using ESF to study gestational feed efficiency, as well as to examine the importance of training gilts and sows to use such systems before they are bred and begin gestation. The studies followed 300 gilts and 550 sows.

Producers who have used ESF systems have learned, as did the Kansas State researchers, that there is a learning curve for the humans using the system, but also for the pigs. “The training process is very, very important, and not only is it a long procedure, but we found that you still may not get all sows or gilts to eat as much as we would like them to the first few days after they are moved into their pens,” Goodband says.

The cooperating farm had a training protocol in place, with three stages. Once gilts left isolation they were moved to gilt development into a grower pen for a 10-week period (age 11 weeks to 21 weeks old) for a pre-training stage. They then enter a gilt training pen for a two-week training stage, before reaching the post-training stage where gilts would go to the ESF pens or would be moved to crates for insemination.

The pre-training is a very important stage as developing gilts are exposed to the process of going through an automatic chute “that would get them accustomed to what they will see later on as they go through gestation in the ESF pens,” Goodband says. “They need to learn that they will need to go through a device in order to eat.”

Feed efficiency evaluation

Once properly trained, it is up to the sows/gilts and the system itself to reach ultimate efficiency. One of the goals for Thomas and Vier was to get a better understanding of gestation feed intake patterns and to use that information to then model the changes in protein and lipid deposition and the products in conceptus and how they change in relation to nutrient and feed allowance during gestation.

The cooperating farm has six ESF feeding stations per pen, and researchers were hoping to use the technology to identify patterns of feed intake and record the growth of the animals. Each female has a radio-frequency identification tag, identifying which specific animal has just entered the feeding station, and a predetermined amount of feed would be dropped – 4.4 pounds per day for gilts or 5 pounds per day for sows. Upon finishing eating, the female then passes through an alley to walk over a scale, and a weight is registered for each female. During the training process, Thomas stopped each female pig on the scale, to be certain of getting a “starting” weight for each individual.

Researchers found that a sow may go through an ESF system three to six times a day, even though they may not get feed each time, “but they’ll still go through hoping there will be some food there for them,” Goodband says.

One thing that surprised the researchers was that the sows and gilts did not eat their full feed allocation or gain much weight in the first 10 days in the pen. After the first 10 days, each sow and gilt generally consumed her whole ration.

“We found significant changes in average daily weight gain following the initial 10 days in the pen. Thereafter, females were consistently eating and gaining for the remainder of gestation,” says Thomas, the graduate student in charge of the study. “Our results, I think, share a very important message that even with a good training program, gilts and sows appear to struggle within those first few days of introduction into the gestation pen. It doesn’t take long before they become adjusted and are up to full feed, but it is important for producers to be aware of this.”

“The question we’re hoping to answer is, ‘Will these changes in initial feed intake affect subsequent reproductive performance?’” she says, adding that the research team is planning further studies this spring to look at nutrient requirements during gestation.

Goodband says the slow start of average daily gain in gestation held fairly consistent when comparing Parity 1, Parity 2 and Parity 3+ sows and gilts. After the first period, ADG was consistent during the rest of the periods in gestation. (See Figure 1)

Kansas State University

From an actual feed intake perspective, multi-parous sows and second parity gilts are eating about 95% of their allocated feed during the first 10 days of gestation. Gilts on the other hand, are only consuming 90% of their allocated feed, and Goodband rationalizes that may be due to the challenges of learning the ESF training process.

Researchers found that the older the female, the more comfortable they become throughout the gestation period in the ESF system, as where the Parity 1 females may need a little coaxing as they reenter the ESF system.

While data show pigs will learn the ESF system, Goodband says it’s important to focus on the lower feed intake during the early stage of gestation and how that may be influencing subsequent litter performance.

As expected, when feed intake is down the first 10-15 days of gestation, so is feed efficiency, as Goodband says the females ate enough of their allocated feed to stay above their maintenance level, but not enough to gain weight.

“The take-home message,” Goodband says, “is that ESF systems provide great opportunities for modeling to determine the rate at which a sow adds lean muscle and fat that we can then tie back into a nutrition program on changing the amount of feed and different nutrition levels.”

“There is a lot of excitement on the data that have been generated and will continue to be generated from this system and many other similar systems,” he adds. “Improving our knowledge of the pregnant sow and how to properly meet her nutrient requirements in gestation, to have her enter into the farrowing house ready to farrow and successfully nurse a vigorous litter of piglets is a goal we hope to achieve.”

Helping a pregnant female to meet her nutrient requirements in an ESF system will also involve overcoming the challenges that she faces each time she reenters the ESF system.

The studies were supported by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant and PIC, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Zinpro Corp. announces global marketing team addition and promotions

Zinpro Corp. announces the addition of David Fox to the global marketing team and promotions for Amber Schramm and Katie Seppelt.

Fox joins Zinpro as marketing manager-the Americas. In this position, he will develop strategic marketing plans and programs, both short- and long-range, for company products and business solutions throughout North, Central and South America. He will also lead regional marketing plan implementation and work collaboratively with cross-functional teams in the Americas to position and deliver valued products, programs and educational tools to customers.

“David has a proven record of successful marketing and product management throughout his career,” says Pierre Frumholtz, Ph.D., director of global marketing. “He is an excellent addition to our marketing team as we expand our product offerings and services in this complex and extensive sales region.”

Fox previously held positions as marketing manager and product manager for global and North American agricultural companies. Most recently, he worked as marketing consultant for multiple agricultural companies, helping to identify and quantify market opportunities in ag-biological markets.

In addition, Amber Schramm has been promoted to the role of senior associate, North America, where she oversees marketing for dairy and swine. “Amber continues to excel in creating educational materials and managing marketing events and programs in North America,” says Frumholtz. “Her promotion reflects both her excellent performance as well as our department’s professional growth.”

As the company continues to grow, so do opportunities for current employees. Another example is Katie Seppelt, who is promoted to digital marketing specialist – global. She originally joined the company in December 2015 as a marketing assistant. In her new role, she will help to develop and support the company’s global digital platforms.

“Katie has shown her expertise in web, app and email marketing,” says Brent Wilson, digital marketing manager-global. “She has also performed very well in Zinpro social-media communications and assisting with North America events, online literature and promotional activities.”

As the industry leader in trace mineral nutrition for livestock and poultry, Zinpro is committed to delivering the technical expertise, products and educational tools needed to help customers improve the performance and profitability of their operations.

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-02-27-17

This is the day we go back on offense, said Scott Kirby, the president of United Airlines. United is done being a docile competitor, he said. United this summer will start flying 6 new round trips from Chicago O'Hare and add stops in Colombia, Missouri, Rochester, Minn., and other smaller cities.

Milwaukee-based Harley Davidson sales may be hurt by a shrinking base of middle-aged Americans able to afford bikes and by a strong dollar that hurts the profitability of international sales.

it's been raining in South America, while rain makes grain it is also delaying early harvest. Combines should be rolling in weeks ahead, weather permitting.

In January, the U.S. did a majority of soybean sales to China, but China started switching to Brazilian origin.

Bill Paxton died over the weekend. Storm chasers went online and spelled out his initials with their GPS coordinates. Paxton put storm chasers on the map with the movie, Twister.

MORNING-MidwestDigest-02-27-17

Many folks in Detroit, Michigan, region felt they had a personal connection with Ron Savage, anchor of Fox 2 News. The 63-year-old Savage died Saturday while training with the Milford Fire Department were he was a paid, on-call firefighter.

Storm chasers paid tribute to the late actor Bill Paxton who starred in the movie, Twister, by using GPS coordinates to spell out his initials.

This is the week of the big Commodity Classic and Trade Show for the grain producers. Meetings underway Wednesday through Saturday in San Antonio. Almost 10,000 attended last year when it was in New Orleans.

Cynthia Sound, 83, said she always wanted to ride a Zamboni machine. Yesterday, she left the assisted living center and rode the Zamboni at the Des Moines Buccaneers hocke game as four generations of her family watched.