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Articles from 2019 In February

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Feb. 28, 2019

A Wisconsin man ran down an Illinois state trooper last month. The man is charged with reckless homicide.

A man was driving the wrong way on a freeway in St. Louis.

In Michigan, police officers are swabbing saliva to check for drugs. The pilot program is being expanded.

At Commodity Classic, many farmers left behind bad weather. 

Fire safety officials are reminding homeowners to clear vents outside the house.

Southern Illinois residents are bracing for rising river waters.


Photo: Evgen_Prozhyrko/Getty Images


MORNING Midwest Digest, Feb. 28, 2019

Last weekend's storm left lots of snow across the Upper Midwest, making it difficult for some to reach their livestock.

People in Southern Illinois are bracing for rising waters this weekend.

Michigan police may begin swiping saliva to check for drugs.

An Iowa college announcer got in trouble for referring to an opposing team member as King Kong.

The mayor of Oklahoma City has rid the city's airport of "cow tipping" t-shirts.

Effective execution drives feed efficiency

National Pork Board Pigs milling around a feeder

By Emily Scholtz, Pipestone Grow Finish Nutritionist
There are three drivers influencing cost of production today: facilities, weaned pigs and feed, with feed cost accounting for over 50% of the total cost of production. Thus, producers should be focused on either reducing feed cost or improving whole herd feed efficiency. Feed efficiency is typically measured by feed consumed per unit of gain and has a major effect on producers’ profitability with its strong association with feed costs. There are different measures that can affect feed efficiency, a few of those include feed form, feed quality, nutrient density, health and ractopamine.

Feed form/quality
Particle size reduction has a big impact on feed efficiency. Reduction in particle size of feed ingredients (corn in particular) increases the surface area of the grain and improves digestibility. Research has shown that feed efficiency improves by 1% for every 100 micron reduction in particle size. However, too fine of a grind can increase feed processing cost, and reduce feed flowability which can cause out-of-feed events and an increased chance of gastric ulcers.

Feeder adjustment
One important on-farm factor that can be controlled by producers is feeder adjustment. Feed wastage has a large impact on feed cost and feed efficiency. It’s recommended to have 60% pan coverage in the nursery and 40% pan coverage in the finisher, without feed accumulating in the corners.

On the left is a proper feed adjustment and on the right is an improperly adjusted feeder.

On the left is a proper feed adjustment and on the right is an improperly adjusted feeder.

Nutrient density
Improving nutrient density of the diet can also improve feed efficiency. One way of achieving this is by feeding a higher energy diet (increased fat). When increasing fat in the diet by 1% you can generally expect to see a 2% improvement in feed efficiency, which is similar to what we have observed in our energy trials conducted at our commercial nutrition research facility. It is important that the diet is also adequate in amino acid ratios, as diets deficient in lysine can influence feed efficiency as well.

Pig health has a big impact on almost all aspects of swine productivity and is an important factor affecting feed conversion outside of nutritional influence. Disease-challenged pigs aren’t able to utilize nutrients for growth, but rather to fight disease. In general, for every 1% increase in mortality, feed efficiency will be reduced by 0.5% to 0.8%.

Ractopamine is a widely used feed additive in the swine industry to help improve feed conversion and carcass composition (lean gain). The effect of feeding RAC is seen almost immediately within the first seven days and is most effective when fed no longer than four weeks. It’s important to avoid a long duration of feeding because of the diminished response and loss of benefits. This improvement in feed efficiency isn’t contributed to reduction in feed intake, but feed utilization, which is why it’s important diets are adjusted when fed RAC. Packer metrics may also be considered when evaluating the use of RAC.

There are many factors that affect feed efficiency in production systems. These strategies to improving feed efficiency should always be evaluated with the ability to execute, and the effects on production system profitability. Understanding these impacts will help guide producers in decision making.

If you have any questions, reach out to the Pipestone Grow Finish team at 507-825-7053. Scholtz is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a masters in swine nutrition. She is the research coordinator and handles the diet formulations for Pipestone Grow Finish.

Source: Emily Scholtz of Pipestone Grow Finish, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Clemson students turn to swine center to study human breast cancer

Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences The swine genes are compared to genes found in human breast cancer profiles.
Shelby Smith of Huntsville, Ala., uses equipment in Clemson’s Light Imaging Facility to view slides from her mother’s breast biopsy and compare human cells to swine cells.

A team of Clemson University Animal and Veterinary Sciences students has turned to their school’s farrow-to-finish unit for answers in an innovative undergraduate research project that could lead to discovery, advance their careers and propel them to the world stage.

The students are comparing swine mammary gland genes to genes found in human breast cancer profiles and are participating in the Bioinformatics for Cancer Genomics Creative Inquiry project. Their research uses a novel approach to study the mechanism that causes mammary glands to develop as a way to understand and possibly halt the growth of aggressive breast cancer cells.

“From the time we are conceived, through birth and up to puberty, our cells are changing, growing and establishing new patterns of signals,” says Heather Dunn, a senior lecturer in the Clemson Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department. “This cell conversion is called the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, or EMT. When this transition occurs, cells have the ability to migrate to other parts of the body and divide. Research confirms that this process also occurs during cancer and is believed to be the early initiating step in the development of triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC.”

Using a minimally invasive biopsy technique invented by Dunn and patented by Clemson University, as well as an array of Clemson University laboratories and imaging facilities, the students are studying the mammary cells of prepubescent swine to unlock the mystery of EMT in cancer. The ultimate goal is to someday be able to cease the EMT process in triple negative breast cancer cells.

The swine genes are compared to genes found in human breast cancer profiles. Previous studies used mice samples, but swine mammary gland tissue more closely resembles human mammary gland tissue. Tissue samples are collected using the Dunn Biopsy Method and analyzed in various Clemson laboratories.

Joining Dunn in the research project are Sabrina Carrel, Paula Lewis, Hanna Oswalt, Brooke Redmond, Shelby Smith and Amber Stone.

Utilizing Clemson resources
Field and lab work begin when mammary gland genes are collected from pigs at Clemson’s Starkey Swine Center using the Dunn Biopsy Method. This method was created by Dunn and currently filed as a provisional patent through the Clemson University Research Foundation.

Once samples are collected, multiple laboratories are used to process the tissue. The Animal and Veterinary Science Histology Core Facility is where the students prepare the samples for analysis.

“This lab is where we embed the tissue samples in paraffin wax to preserve the tissue for storage and later use,” Redmond says. “It is also where we slice the samples and put them on slides just before we stain them so that they can be observed under a microscope. We have to be able to analyze samples we’ve collected and what we’re doing in this lab allows us to do that.”

In the Clemson Light Imaging Facility, cells are selected and extracted using a laser microdissection microscope for analyses.

“We use the microscope to laser cut out different cell populations so that we can determine molecular events from different populations of cells,” Smith says. “This will help us understand how the cells communicate with their environment.”

Smith’s mother died from breast cancer in 2003. She found slides from her mother’s biopsies and is including these slides in the Creative Inquiry study. Equipment in the Light Imaging Facility is used to view the slides and compare human cells to swine cells.

“It’s helpful to be able to see real human cancer cells,” Smith says. “My mom died when I was 5 and ever since then I just really want to know about it and I want to cure cancer.”

Once cell samples have been collected and data compiled, the students use bioinformatics to analyze their data. Programs such as the National Cancer Institute’s Genomic Data Commons Data Portal are used to compare the swine mammary genes to human mammary genes. This portal allows interactive analysis and data visualization specifically identifying gene mutations, frequencies and expression networks.

This research has been underway for only two semesters, but cancer research experts already are taking note of the students’ study. The students have been invited to present at the Keystone Symposia of Molecular and Cellular Biology conference in Florence, Italy, March 15-19, where they will present “Evaluation of swine mammary glands: A model for development, cancer and environmental cues.”

Triple negative breast cancer is the only type of breast cancer that lacks a specific Federal Drug Administration approved drug for treatment. This aggressive form of cancer has a high mortality rate and is associated with racial disparities — occurring in 23% of African American women and just 12% in other races.

Sources: Clemson University, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Hog producers continue to ramp up production, despite negative returns

marina_karkalicheva/iStock/Thinkstock Pork carcasses hanging in cooler

Since mid-2017 returns have been relatively poor for hog producers, however one analyst says he expects the industry to continue to ramp up production in 2019.

“We are seeing inventory continue to build. Producers are optimistic in terms of their expansion plans,” says Shayle Shagam, USDA livestock analyst. “We have had several new plants open in the past couple years and there may be expectations that increased capacity will help support the price of hogs.”

Shagam told attendees last week at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum that the U.S. hog and pig inventory back in December was the largest in 75 years at 74.6 million head.

There will be about 3% more inventory available for slaughter this year than last and heavier weights are expected to increase pork production 4% in 2019.

However Shagam says the U.S. pork industry is looking at about a 7% decline in hog prices, which equates to a loss of over $3/cwt compared to 2018.

Shagam says the one good thing about the lower prices is the opportunity to expand pork export markets. He estimates pork exports could rise 6% this year to 6.3 billion pounds which Shagam says “would be a record in terms of our exports.”

“Price is helping move the product,” Shagam says.

Source: USDA, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Farm Progress America, Feb 28, 2019

Max Armstrong offers a look at the National Association of Wheat Growers whose work is focused on Washington, D.C. The group had its annual winter conference in the capital meeting with House and Senate staff and committees. The group also talked about the challenges facing farmers, and trade issues. And Max shares some interesting wheat facts.

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: Willie Vogt

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Feb. 27, 2019

Commodity Classic is this week. 

An Illinois home had to be torn down because it just couldn't be renovated after being built in the Civil War.

American hog farmers remain on high alert, as African swine flu continues to be a problem in China.

A churches bus went off the road, and the 82-year-old driver was charged with DWI.

During the final game of a high school basketball game, one team member was allowed to play in the game. The team manager, who has cerebal palsey, sank two 3-pointers in his time on the court. 


MORNING Midwest Digest, Feb. 27, 2019

The Chicago mayor race was split between 14 candidates, and no one won more than 50% of the vote. There will be a runoff between the top two on April 2.

A bus crashed on an Illinois freeway. The 82-year-old driver was charged with DWI.

There's a Wisconsin law that prohibits National Guard commissioned officers from using contemptuous words against the governor and president. A current guardsman (and congressman) went on Twitter and ripped the current governor. Now officials are looking into whether he should be disciplined.

Fiat Chrysler is downsizing jobs in Illinois, but adding jobs in Detroit.

A home had to be torn down in Illinois. It couldn't be renovated, and had been built after the Civil War.


Photo: hermosawave/Getty Images

Compeer Financial awards 49 General Use Grants

Compeer Financial awards 49 General Use Grants

The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America, the corporate giving program of Compeer Financial, has awarded 49 grants for the organization’s General Use Grant Program, totaling $268,101 this year. General Use Grants fund initiatives and organizations whose work enriches agriculture and rural America, which is Compeer Financial’s mission.

Thirteen organizations in Illinois received support from the General Use Grant Program, including:

  • Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences: for urban agriculture teach education and professional development during the summer.
  • Cook County Farm Bureau foundation: support for Urban Youth Experience for Agriculture Advocacy.
  • CW Avery Family YMCA: for purchasing organic materials to improve the soil, gardening tools, irrigation, seeds, plants, fencing, mulch and containers for ag education at summer day camp.
  • Feeding Home First: for purchasing food and hygiene products for students in Macomb, Ill. and surrounding communities.
  • Friends of Stark County 4-H Association: for new building facility at the fairgrounds.
  • Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership of Illinois: support for food packing event at a local food bank and items for hunger banquet.Illinois Agricultural Resource Council: support for Full Circle Initiative, video, public service announcement and banners celebrating 10-year anniversary for Women Changing the Face of Agriculture event.
  • Illinois Agri-Women: support for the Illinois Agri-Women Professional Development Conference.
  • Illinois State University Department of Agriculture: support for research project about big data’s impact on farmers.
  • John Wood Community College: purchase of laptop computers, an optical projection microscope component and a drone.
  • Main Stay Therapeutic Farm: support for general operating support.
  • Nutrients for Life: for program materials, travel and registration costs for Illinois fertilizer and environment education workshops.
  • White Oaks Therapeutic Equestrian Center: support for general operating support.

“These organizations give back to the communities in Compeer Financial’s territory every day, supporting agriculture, technology, education and the environment,” says John Monson, chair of Compeer Financial’s Fund for Rural America. “We are proud to continue our commitment to agriculture and rural America in the second year of our General Use Grant Program.”

In 2019, the General Use Grant program will be open in the spring and fall. Grant program information can be accessed online at

Source: Compeer Financial, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.