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Articles from 2018 In February


Steve Alexander fills in Max Armstrong, who is in California attending Commodity Classic today.

I bet there was a lot of discussion at Commodity Classic about Sen. Ted Cruz releasing his hold on Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s nomination for a post at USDA. Northey has been Iowa Agriculture Secretary for 11 years.

In Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed bill ending state’s decades-old ban on carryout sale of alcohol.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Power Line would run from Missouri through eastern states.

There is a gun show this weekend in Wheaton, Ill. They won’t be raffling off any AR-15 weapons. Sales of these weapons is also prohibited at the show.

Jan Morgan, who declared her shooting range a Muslim-free zone in 2014, will run for Arkansas governor. Also on the ballot in Arkansas,  Elvis D. Presley, who is running for Congress as a Libertarian.

A new generation of protection against influenza A virus in swine

Boehringer Ingelheim

Posing a serious threat to performance, influenza A virus in swine can have a widespread impact on productivity and profitability. IAV-S is one of the top three diseases affecting pigs in all phases of production,1,2 and can lead to economic losses of more than $10 per head when present with concurrent infections.3 It can also lead to subsequent respiratory infections that can impact pig performance, including mortality and culls.

Today, however, the first live attenuated IAV-S vaccine for growing pigs is here to provide game-changing protection when and where it’s needed most. Ingelvac Provenza from Boehringer Ingelheim offers cross-protection against multiple IAV-S strains, and decreases nasal shedding, thereby reducing transmission within a population.4

With demonstrated efficacy and safety,4 as well as flexibility of timing and a method of administration that stimulates immunity at the point of natural IAV-S infection, Ingelvac Provenza fills an unmet need in the swine industry, and will establish a new way of thinking about influenza protection.

“Vaccinating pigs as young as one day of age provides protection before pigs are most vulnerable5,” says Christa Goodell, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl ACVPM, technical manager for the Boehringer Ingelheim U.S. Swine Business. Administered intranasally, Ingelvac Provenza provides a direct means of protection at the site of natural IAV-S infection.3,6

As the first live attenuated IAV-S vaccine developed for growing pigs in the United States, Ingelvac Provenza is a bivalent H1N1 and H3N2 vaccine that offers a new level of cross-protection against influenza A virus strains, including H1N2 and more recent H3N2,4 and has been has been evaluated to reduce virus shedding in the presence of maternal antibodies.7

“This vaccine is providing protection when it is needed most, and offers cross-protection against multiple strains of IAV-S. Ingelvac Provenza reduces nasal shedding when pigs are challenged with IAV-S, which reduces transmission within the population,” Goodell explains.

Ingelvac Provenza is currently available in a 50-dose presentation. For more information, talk to your veterinarian or visit


1. Vincent AL, Ma W, Lager KM, et al. Efficacy of intranasal administration of a truncated NS1 modified-live influenza virus vaccine in swine. Vaccine 2007;25(47):7999–8009.

2. USDA APHIS, VS, NAHMS. Swine 2012, Part II: Reference of swine health and health management in the United States. February 2016.

3. Dykhuis Haden C, Painter T, Fangman T, Holtkamp D. Assessing production parameters and economic impact of swine influenza, PRRS and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae on finishing pigs in a large production system, in Proceedings. 43rd American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting 2012;75–76.

4. BIAH studies #2013200, 2013232 and 2014001 published on

5. Alvarez J, Sarradell J, Kerkaert B, et al. Association of the presence of influenza A virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus in sow farms with post-weaning mortality. Prev Vet Med 2015;121(3–4):240–245.

6. Janke BH. Influenza A virus infections in swine: pathogenesis and diagnosis. Vet Pathol 2014;51(2):410–426.

7. Genzow M, Goodell C, Kaiser TJ, et al. Live attenuated influenza virus vaccine reduces virus shedding of newborn piglets in the presence of maternal antibody. Influenza Other Respir Viruses 2017. doi:10.1111/irv.12531.

Ingelvac Provenza is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH. ©2018 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Improve water quality with chlorine dioxide

Hog Slat

Treating water with chlorine (bleach) is a common method used to sanitize livestock drinking water and reduce concentrations of water-borne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, molds, and protozoans.   However, the effectiveness of chlorine is dependent on water quality and pH.  Chlorine tends to bind itself to any organic material in the water reducing its potency.  Chorine is also less effective if the water pH is higher than 7.0. 

Chlorine dioxide is a similar sounding chemical also used for treating drinking water.  Chlorine dioxide has several advantages over chlorine.

1) Chlorine dioxide is faster acting than chlorine especially if the water pH rises.

2) Chlorine dioxide is a more effective sanitizer in poorer quality water containing higher levels of organic matter and other dissolved solids.  

3) Chlorine dioxide effectively operates in a broader range of pH levels (4 to 10).

4) Chlorine dioxide can penetrate the bioslime build-up inside water lines and effectively remove it from the water system.  Chlorine dioxide has 2.6 times the oxidative power of chloride bleach.

In its pure form, chlorine dioxide is an unstable gas that is difficult to transport safely.   For this reason, it is sold as a stabilized liquid.  Stabilized chlorine dioxide is activated on site by injecting it, along with a blended acid, into the water line.   This mixing occurs in a closed system (the water line) and safely generates chlorine dioxide gas.


Installing a dosing system to inject the chlorine dioxide and activator chemical is relatively straightforward.  Reliable electric metering pumps can pull the stabilized dioxide and the activation chemical directly from their containers.  The products can be injected directly into the water line or as an alternative, into a small reaction tee.  This closed system ensures the consistency of the treatment, the safety of the producer, and extends the life of the applicators.

Recent restrictions on the use of medications in livestock production have made it even more important than ever to provide livestock with clean, high-quality drinking water. 







Steve Alexander fills in for Max Armstrong who is in California attending Commodity Classic today.

In Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb is signing a bill that legalizes the carryout sale of alcohol on Sundays. Indiana residents will be able to buy carryout alcohol between noon and 8 p.m. Sundays. It had been banned for decades.

Look no further than Sen. Ted Cruz to see why some people don’t like politicians. Cruz had put a hold on the nomination of Spirit Lake, Iowa, farmer Bill Northey for a post at USDA since September.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law bill designed to stabilize insurance market in that state.

Wisconsin Attorney General joined with 19 other state Attorneys General claiming that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

A national gang has defrauded WalMart out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In Indiana, it’s legal to get your eyeballs tattooed.

Farm Progress America, February 28, 2018

Max Armstrong talks about the weather in 2012 and the drought then including the rise in food prices. But these days food cost is no longer the No. 1 cost. Max reports on a consultant report that looks at the key costs for the restaurant industry – and food isn't the No. 1 cost these days.

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.

Photo: Drew Angerer

Language of gene editing muddles advances

National Hog Farmer/Cheryl Day Gene Editing panel discussion
Michael Specter, right, moderates a panel discussion on gene editing in the swine world to kick off this year's Pork Forum in Kansas City, Mo. Panel members were, left to right, Kevin Wells, Bradley Wolter, Dan Kovich and Charlie Arnot.

Agriculture has benefited and been plagued for years by gene editing, in the plant world and more recently on the livestock front.

“GMO is not illegal in the U.S.,” says Kevin Wells, animal science genetics assistant professor at the University of Missouri, but the terms “genetically modified organism” strike fear in the minds of consumers so he suggests that agriculture and swine industry not use words to hide behind.

Wells has been working in gene editing, he prefers the term “genome editor,” since 1989, and wishes to calm fears of the consuming public by being clear that genome editing does not involve the transfer of genes from one specie into another.

“We look at the instruction manual of the giraffe and if we see a trait we like, we look for that in the instruction manual of the pig,” he says. “It’s basically, copy, paste, delete. A lot like looking through a thesaurus.”

Wells was one of four on a panel discussion to kick off the Pork Forum taking place through Friday in Kansas City, Mo.

The panel, moderated by Science, technology and global health author and journalist Michael Specter, also included:

• Charlie Arnot, CEO of Look East and an industry leader on food and agriculture issues, and he offered insight into consumer social acceptance of gene editing.

• Dan Kovich, a veterinarian and director of science and technology with the National Pork Producers Council, discussed the current regulatory environment for this emerging technology.

• Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs LLC and a pork producer in Illinois. Wolter, who has a doctorate in swine growth and development, reviewed gene editing’s potential on-farm application.

Specter, who writes for The New Yorker and is currently working on a book about the breakthrough technology of gene editing, served as keynote speaker before moderating the panel discussion.

“Gene editing is a potentially revolutionary tool that will improve the lives of humans in clear and tangible ways,” Specter says. “And we may well see the first widely accepted benefits in animals and plants. There is a clear opportunity for the agriculture industry to lead the way.”

In its simplest definition, gene editing technology allows for precise changes to be made to the DNA of living cells, which holds the potential to eradicate diseases, transform agriculture and enable massive leaps forward in environmental and life science. Specter and the panel’s presentation offered a single forum for those with a stake in pork production to share ideas on its application to the global pork industry.

“This is a conversation that we need to be having as an industry,” Wolter says, after the panel discussion. “We realize what the technology can do for us. There’s an endless spectrum of possibilities, but there are some concerns about the access to the technology.”

“We have to start now by generating social acceptance of gene editing,” Arnot says. “That means overcoming the public’s scientific illiteracy by opening a dialogue to build both acceptance and support. This will allow us to move forward as a society.”

“Acceptance of gene editing faces its distinct challenges — and largest among them is public perception,” Wells said. “What is so unique to gene editing is that there is no biological reason to regulate the technology. However, that could well be the first step in growing consumer acceptance.”

Wolter sees concrete on-farm application of gene editing despite being so early in its development and acceptance.

“It will have a positive impact on livestock production, making pigs resistant to diseases and improving food safety, animal welfare and environmental impact,” Wolter says. “However, you cannot invest in a technology without clearly understanding the regulatory environment.”

“A one-size-fits-all regulatory approach will not work for many emerging technologies, but especially for gene editing,” Kovich says. “A path forward exists, allowing for regulatory scrutiny, but trade-offs may be required. We need to establish a risk-based regulatory framework.”

Toward that end, gene editing technology will move forward in an environment that acknowledges public interest while simultaneously encouraging investment for its expansion. Wells notes that China already is looking to the future of gene editing by investing approximately $15 billion in animal sciences.

Source: National Pork Board

Pork producers reach out to those in need to kick off Pork Forum

National Pork Board Pork Board members served breakfast at Hope Faith Ministries  in Kansas City, Mo., before Pork Forum.
Pork Board members served breakfast at Hope Faith Ministries in Kansas City, Mo., before Pork Forum.

We Care principles established by the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council in 2008 make clear the industry’s values in food safety, animal well-being, worker safety, community outreach and protection of both the environment and public health.

This is more than a nice-looking lapel pin, as pig farmers day-in and day-out practice the art of top-notched animal care and worker safety.

This Tuesday morning the NPB executive board enacted the community outreach component as they gathered for the annual Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, Mo.

That morning, board members took time to give back to and provide for those less fortunate by serving breakfast to about 250 people at the Hope Faith Ministries in downtown Kansas City, a place where the homeless and low-income can be assured of getting a good meal. Serving breakfast is part of the Pork Checkoff’s #HamsAcrossAmerica program. Smithfield Foods donated bacon and pork sausage for the breakfast.

“It’s a real eye-opener,” says Heather Hill, NPB member from Greenfield, Ind., “seeing that there is such a need. … for some of these people this may be the only meal that they get for the day.”

Though the group was representing the NPB and the U.S. pork industry as a whole, their mission was not to sell the pork message. “We were just there to give these people a good meal,” she says.

Giving back is nothing new for Hill, as she and her husband have volunteered in the past with various outreach programs through the American Farm Bureau, helping in shelters and food pantries in Indianapolis, as well as her home area. Hill served as Indiana Pork Producers Association president for two years.

From volunteering at community events to providing pork to a local fundraiser, pig farmers define themselves as being good neighbors. #HamsAcrossAmerica is a program to share the stories of how pig farmers have paid it forward with product donations throughout the year.

“This reminds us how lucky we are and all that we take for granted,” Hill says.

When are sows dying? Is it different in the U.S. compared to Canada?

National Hog Farmer Sows in gestation stalls

Sow death loss continues to be a big issue in the industry and has a significant financial impact on farms as well as the performance impact. When are sows most at risk of dying was a question posed to us recently, so this month we take a look at that.

To do this we pulled death loss records for 37 farms with 88,000 sows that were all on the same production software and looked at how many days from being served did death occur. This was the measurement we chose to look at as the most standardized. Looking at days from weaning doesn’t work because if the sow dies the day she farrowed she was also weaned that day. There were farms included that had a porcine epidemic diarrhea virus break but any that had a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome break or were not mature herds were removed from this analysis.

The 37 farms had an average parity of 2.64 and average death loss for the last year of 7.3%. Table 1 shows some of the key performance indicators for the 37 farms as well as the averages for the farms that are in the United States within the subset of farms and the Canadian farms, as well as the entire SMS database.

Swine Management Services

Chart 1 looks at the percent lost by parity. There was a higher percentage of first parity animals lost than any other parity. Chart 2 looks at when females are dying compared to being bred and how that changes by parity. One point of consideration when looking at this is there is a lot of variation in how farms enter gilts and often cases they are not being entered until breeding, however in this dataset it showed that 43% of the gilts that died were never bred which is 6% of the total losses in this dataset.

Swine Management Services

Swine Management Services

The gilt line is drastically different than the other parities. Another indication that gilts cannot be treated the same way we do the rest of the sows.

With the inconsistency in how gilt deaths are recorded prior to breeding, they were removed from the rest of the data that we looked at. In Chart 3 when combing parities, it shows that 54% of the losses occur between 110 days of gestation to 139 days after being served. However, there is a slight difference between the U.S. farms and the Canadian farms with respect to when they are dying in those two groups with 8.9% more dying day 110-119 in the U.S. farms at 29.2% compared to the Canadian farms at 20.3%. In Chart 4, looking at the range of 110 days to 135 days shows that 30% of the total losses are coming in just a nine-day period from 115 to 123 days.

Swine Management Services

Swine Management Services

In Chart 5 we broke out when the sows are being lost by quarter. It was not what we had expected to see as we always think about higher deaths in the summer, but this shows really no significant difference between the calendar quarters. This may be a reflection of the seasonality of prolapses in some herds with the peak for those being in December through March. While there has been some work done in the past that shows that sows that are bred during the summer have a higher chance of dying during the next parity due to the over emphasis of reaching breeding target.

Swine Management Services

Prolapses have certainly been an issue in a lot of farms over the last couple of years and something that producers haven’t been able to change. So, producers need to focus on what mortality can be changed, lameness still tends to be the biggest reason for deaths followed by difficult farrowing. Difficult farrowing often gets used for any sow that doesn’t have a prolapse and dies close to farrowing.

If the data show that most sows are dying close to farrowing, is there increased focus during that time on ensuring that sows are healthy? Taking temperatures of sows after farrowing and 24 hours later is one way to help identify sows that need to be treated. In work completed by John Deen, sows that have one or more stillborns have a 24% higher chance of dying than those who had none. How are you assisting sows during farrowing? Do you have enough labor to do it timely? What is the protocol for sows that don’t eat? Are their temperatures taken? How are they being treated? Are sows coming into farrowing with some lameness issues that are causing them to not eat?

This dataset also showed that 6% of the total death loss was from gilts that were never bred. We suspect that this number is low compared to what is actually happening if all gilts were entered into the production software at 160 days of age. An increase in selection pressure is needed to reduce this. Gilts that are not structurally sound are often entering the breeding herd due to the need to meet breeding target. This is a vicious cycle that needs to be ended. Allowing unsound gilts into the herd results in higher death loss and thus increasing the need of replacement animals. How are the gilts managed on your farm? How much focus are you putting on gilt management and development? Are the gilts in a building with good flooring to help ensure that there aren’t additional risks of injury?

Each 1% improvement in death loss increases pigs weaned per mated female per year by 0.25 pigs. Is your farm working as hard at improving sow death loss as we are at improving farrowing rate and piglet survival that have 0.3 pigs weaned per mated female per year improvement for a 1% improvement? That doesn’t even take into consideration the financial impact of death loss compared to cull sow value.

Next month we will take a look at when the culls are occurring in this same subset of farms.

Table 2 provides the 52-week rolling averages for 11 production numbers represented in the Swine Management Services 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.

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 your farm would like to be part of the SMS Benchmarking databases, or if you have suggestions on production areas to write columns about, email Mark RixRon Ketchem or Valerie Duttlinger. We enjoy being a part of the NHF Daily team. Previous columns can be found at

Northey finally confirmed in key USDA position

USDA Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey with Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue

U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote Bill Northey in a key position at the USDA. Northey's confirmation had been on hold by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in a dispute revolving around the Renewable Fuels Standard. Agriculture organizations including the National Pork Producers Council applauded today’s Senate confirmation.

 Northey, who is serving his third term as Iowa’s agriculture secretary, will be USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation.

“Secretary Northey will be a great asset at USDA for U.S. agriculture,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “Farmers and ranchers couldn’t ask for a better person to lead this important USDA department.”

Before heading the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Northey served as president of the National Corn Growers Association and on Iowa’s USDA Farm Service Agency state committee. He also was a Dickinson County (Iowa) Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner.

In his job at USDA, Northey will oversee the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Programs within those departments include crop insurance, conservation, disaster assistance and producer lending services.

“I applaud Bill Northey’s patience over these many months, which demonstrates what a strong leader he will be at USDA,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “We thank everyone who worked on his confirmation. Bill will come aboard at a crucial time, as his knowledge and expertise will be immediately put to use as the new Farm Bill is formulated to address the needs of American farmers. In addition, his leadership will be key in the newly-constituted mission area, where the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency will be providing an even better customer experience.”

Northey is a fourth-generation Iowa farmer that grows corn and soybeans on his farm near Spirit Lake. In his three-terms as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Northey has promoted science and technology-based solutions to better conserve the state’s soil, water and air, helped to expand ethanol infrastructure and helped tell the story of Iowa agriculture including through his avid use of social media.

“The secretary is a farmer and has been a great leader for Iowa agriculture over the past 11 years,” Maschhoff said. “He’s coming to USDA at a critical time, with Congress getting down to work on the next Farm Bill, which the livestock industry wants to include a vaccine bank to address a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak.”

Source: National Pork Producers, Iowa Farm Bureau, USDA


Newsman Steve Alexander fills in for Max Armstrong.

Max flew to California for the Commodity Classic.

City and airlines are in final stages to dramatically expand O’Hare. The $8.5 billion expansion will last 8 years and add new gates and terminals to make the airport a state-of-the-art global terminal.

Sales of RV went through the roof last year. AirStream is adding 300 employees and building new plant in Ohio.

Olympians will be welcomed home to hero’s welcome. Men’s curling team welcomed under canopy of curling brooms in Duluth.

Interstate 94 is getting bad reputation as marijuana alley.

As taxpayers, we don’t often realize a dollar for dollar return for everything we pay in. U.S. Grains Council says it’s investments result in $19.76 of business.

It is calving season across much of Midwest. In southern Illinois, one grower said he lost 4 calves to vulture attacks.