WPX Product Tour 2006

For the past 17 years, National Hog Farmer magazine has sponsored a program to draw greater attention to the new products and services introduced at World Pork Expo. Each year, exhibitors are invited to nominate new products and services they have introduced to the pork industry since last year’s Expo. National Hog Farmer commissions an independent panel of four experts to review all nominations.

The week before Expo, each panel member receives a packet of all nominations. Each independently gleans through the slate of nominations, selecting those that strike him/her as “the most promising.” On the opening day of World Pork Expo, the four panelists check out those products/services that interest them most, then meet to compare notes and discuss the merits of the various products on their lists. They agree on a slate of products/services they want to discuss with company representatives the next day.

As a group, the foursome sets out on a tour of the trade show to gather more information. At the end of the day, they agree on a slate of “Most Promising Products at World Pork Expo.” Their selections are featured in the July issue of National Hog Farmer.

Because this new product feature has grown in popularity with producers and exhibitors alike, we expanded our coverage of new products slated for introduction at World Pork Expo. Again this year, we are committing to this broader coverage to ensure that all new products have an equal opportunity for exposure to all National Hog Farmer readers, as well as pork producers attending World Pork Expo. Here’s the plan:

  • Each exhibitor at World Pork Expo may nominate new products or services introduced to the pork industry in the last 12 months (see attached form for details). More than one nomination may be submitted.
  • Nominations should include a brief description of the product/service and supportive photos, sketches, illustrations. Submit six copies of all information, including nomination form.
  • A packet of nominations and supportive materials will be sent to each panel member charged with selecting the 2006 class of “most promising products.”
  • Information from each nomination will be condensed into a standardized 2-1/8 x 5-inch new product announcement that will appear in a special insert of the May 15, 2006 National Hog Farmer
  • A complete list of all nominations will be posted here, where an electronic link to each company’s web site will be provided. Pork producers will be able to gather more information about your product, easily and quickly, via the Internet.
  • Pork producers attending World Pork Expo can bring the special insert from their May issue to serve as a guide to new products, or they can stop by the National Hog Farmer booth (Varied Industries building) to obtain a copy.

To help cover our costs for this extended coverage (printing, postage, web site production, press over-runs, etc.), we are asking for a nominal fee of $600 per entry. (A 1/6-page ad is $1,770 value; see enclosed sample).

Keep in mind, we will write the new product announcement for the special insert, it will be distributed to our full circulation and at World Pork Expo.

To be included in the special insert in the May issue, we must receive your nomination no later than April 11. Remember, only nominated products can be considered for the panel’s selection of the “Most Promising New Products at the 2006 World Pork Expo.” All forms are enclosed.

If you have any questions, please call your sales rep:

  • Peter Rupert; 952-854-1090
  • Bill Heffron; 952-854-1090
  • Lisa Peterson; 952-851-4705
  • Jan Ford; 805-783-2476
  • Bill Pullen; 405-767-9090
  • Steve May, Publisher; 952-851-4660

Click on link below to download nomination form.

Meat Market Volatile, But Don't Panic

I'm not sure you could pile more negative news on the meat markets if you tried, but it appears some people are giving it a shot!

Let's review:

  • The third case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States was confirmed on Monday when a cow from Alabama tested positive. The case has provided new fuel for a few animal-rights-leaning congressmen to once again move to remove all downer animals from the food supply regardless of the reason for the animals' conditions. There hasn't been a lot of backlash from export markets, but it certainly can't help the situation with Japan and Korea.

  • Hong Kong slapped a prohibition on beef exports from Swift Beef when it found bones in a shipment of product. Hong Kong had been allowing only boneless product from animals less than 30 months old. Japan announced that it would take a long look at this infraction since it was similar to the veal shipment back in January that prompted Japan to reimpose a prohibition on all imports of U.S. beef. Hong Kong's company-specific action seems more reasonable to me, but we have to remember that there is much more than a food safety concern behind the move by the Japanese.

  • Bird flu continued to spread on the other side of the globe. Two suspected cases turned up in Israel today, and European officials have confirmed the virus in a cat.

  • Fed cattle prices and beef cutout values continue to decline at a record pace for this time of year. Figure 1 shows western Kansas slaughter cattle prices. The $8.12 decline this year is the largest in my data set that dates back to 1980. The second largest decline from Week 1 through Week 13 of the year occurred in 1986 when prices fell by $5.82. This year's decline is 40% larger. The fall in cutout values has not been so dramatic, but this year's $7 decline is far different that the average $8 increases over the 2000-2004 period.

  • Broiler egg sets have rebounded from two smaller-than-last-year weeks at the beginning of February to post an average year-over-year increase of 1.3% over the past three weeks. This comes in the face of boneless/skinless breasts selling at $1.03/lb., leg quarters quoted at $0.20/lb. (though USDA cites bulk prices of 15-16 cents -- barely above rendering value), and wings well under $0.90/lb. USA Today cited stock prices at Sanderson Farms, Gold Kist and Pilgrim's Pride that are all over 40% lower than their high of the last year. Even the stock of industry leader Tyson Foods is over 30% lower than its one-year high.

  • And, then, the rally in cash hogs has run out of steam (see the red line in Figure 2) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Lean Hogs futures took a big hit on Tuesday with most contracts limit down.

Historical Trends
What should you do? Don't panic. Take some advice from Harry Truman: "Study your history."

Figure 2 is a very busy graph, but look at the individual annual lines of hog prices. Notice that this year's price action, though a bit volatile, is certainly within the historical price movements for this time of year. More importantly, look at the lines from the past 10 years from this point (the vertical black line) until the middle of May. All of them increase except one -- the 2002 line, which is when the Russian chicken embargo caused chicken prices to implode and took pork and hog prices down with them.

That upward pattern was so consistent in these 10 years that I went back further to see what hog prices have done between March 11 and May 15. The results appear in Figure 3. Note that since 1972, 23 years have shown higher prices during that period, 10 have shown lower prices. All but one of the 10 price-decline years was before 1995. That one, of course, was 2002.

Further, I would argue that last year's barely-positive figure of $0.40/cwt. was itself an anomaly because the mid-March price was influenced by the extraordinary hog market of December 2004. Had December been lower and, thus, March been lower, the increase into May would have been larger.

My experience is that when negative piles on negative, markets are frequently poised to turn. We certainly have piles of negatives at the moment and we shouldn't just overlook them. But history tells us that there are powerful forces that usually drive cash hog prices up over the next 7-9 weeks.

Make some prudent decisions now if your balance sheet and borrowing position dictate such. If, however, you have a strong equity position (as many, many producers have at present) and can stand a bit of risk, it may pay to watch for a cash rally. CME Lean Hogs futures out to the end of 2006 could be positively impacted if that rally develops. History suggests that summer and fall futures, on average, peak in late April to early May.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: steve@paragoneconomics.com

World Pork Expo Career Center

“Bringing Employers and Employees Together”

1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. – Thursday, June 8, 2006 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 (noon) – Friday, June 9, 2006

Employers: Here is your opportunity to promote the career opportunities you have available and get recognition of your company name.

  • Exposure in the May issue of National Hog Farmer
  • Face to face meeting opportunity in a designated room at the World Pork Expo in the Varied Industry building

Employees: Here is your opportunity to find out more about pork production companies and what career opportunities they have available.

  • Face to face opportunity to bring your resume and make a good impression
  • A great place to meet with several companies in one location

Employers: Please contact Lisa Peterson at 800-722-5334, ext. 4705 if you would like to be a part of this opportunity at World Pork Expo

Arizona Producers Fight To Keep Gestation Stalls

Farm groups' coalition responds to activists' charges.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment a few years back to ban sow gestation stalls in Florida. The Campaign for Arizona Farmers and Ranchers is gearing up to prevent the same proposed language from appearing on the November ballot. The group is comprised of the state's cattlemen, dairymen, pork producers and Farm Bureau members.

Arizonans for Humane Farms (AHF) has collected 44,000 signatures for the sow stall ban initiative, reports Tom Miller, executive director for the Arizona Pork Council (APC). Miller says AHF, led by the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, needs 123,000 signatures by July 6 to be eligible for the ballot.

In the last few months, there has been a flurry of negative publicity surrounding the state's hog production, including visits by activists to the state, letters to the editor and a major feature article in the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix.

Miller says APC President Mike Terrill, DVM, is drafting a letter to the editor of the newspaper challenging the implication that producers don't take good care of their sows and pigs.

Miller, a resident of Casa Grande, a suburb of Phoenix, says: “I've told my city friends that if a farmer operated the way it was portrayed in the paper, they would go broke and wouldn't survive.”

He stresses that the issue at hand goes well beyond the sow gestation stalls used by the state's half dozen remaining pork producers. “While these activist groups make it sound like they are worried about the welfare of farm animals, they are really worried about getting everyone to stop eating meat or consuming any products associated with meat.”

Miller fears if Arizona becomes the second state to adopt the sow stall ban, activists will soon get bold enough to try it in places like Illinois, Iowa and Ohio.

For updates on the farmer coalition's educational efforts to stop the ban, go to www.azfarmersranchers.com.

PMWS Gains Attention

Cases of postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) have been reported in a number of pork-producing states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina, says the National Pork Board.

Producers should know that:

  • PMWS is in no way related to other “wasting” diseases reported in species such as elk and deer;

  • PMWS, associated with porcine circovirus, has been reported in the United States since the 1990s, but recent cases appear to be more severe;

  • Earlier cases of PMWS occurred mainly in weaned pigs. More recently, PMWS has been reported in 4- to 8-week-old pigs after being placed in the finisher.

  • PMWS is described as a syndrome rather than as an infectious disease because it often requires more than porcine circovirus for infection. Other common co-infections include porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, swine influenza virus and Mycoplasmal pneumonia.

  • Clinical signs of PMWS may be impacted by time of year, stressors in the environment and history or presence of other diseases on the farm.

The Pork Board recommends producers follow good sanitation and biosecurity protocols to lessen the severity of the disease.

The Pork Board has allocated $220,000 toward a special research effort on PMWS in 2006.

Pork Management Conference Set

The 2006 Pork Management Conference is slated for April 2-4 at the Caribe Royal Resort in Orlando, FL. The conference was formerly called the Financial Management Conference.

The conference covers U.S. agriculture outlooks, the current picture of global meat proteins, economic profitability, facility costs and value, estate planning and growth of natural and organic pork markets.

A brochure with registration and event information is available through the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675, or via the Internet at www.pork.org.

Illinois Pork Industry Conference

Antibiotic use in swine production is the theme of the 2006 University of Illinois Pork Industry Conference, April 27-28 at the Holiday Inn, Urbana, IL.

The conference objectives include a review of the scientific evidence on the issues related to antibiotic use in livestock production, and consideration of future courses of action, taking into account the benefits and risks of antibiotic use.

Conference pre-registration should be completed by April 17. For further information, contact conference coordinator Gil Hollis at (217) 333-0013 or e-mail hollisg@uiuc.edu.

Biofilters Beat Problem Gases

Producer-agricultural engineer develops simple system that effectively filters out manure odors and reduces neighborhood complaints.

Neighbors driving by NPPI's 1,500-sow, farrow-to-finish operation near Hector, MN, don't complain about hog odors. Biofilters, operating since the complex was built in 1997, have eliminated the majority of the odors as air is exhausted from the barns.

Only when pits are pumped out twice a year for application to nearby fields, do neighbors even notice the gases given off by the manure, says Dick Nicolai.

He raised hogs for 30 years and still owns part of the operation, but now works as an agricultural engineer at South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings.

Biofiltration Not New

Biofiltration occurs when microorganisms mix with oxygen, resulting in a dilution of offensive waste compounds, says Nicolai.

Biofiltration is not new to agriculture, he explains. The drain field for a septic tank system offers similar benefits as the soil serves as a biofilter to break down and absorb the gases from the waste.

In the same way, hog barn gases exhausted through a biofilter's media, usually comprised of compost and woodchips, absorb and convert the odorous compounds, thereby greatly reducing the release of those gases, says Nicolai.

“Volatile organic compounds are broken down, producing carbon dioxide and water, which results in the elimination of about 90% of the odors,” he explains.

The process is fairly simple: air from a hog building, drawn through a manure pit, exits out the exhaust fans. Instead of exhausting gases directly into the atmosphere, the air from the exhaust fans is directed down through an air plenum (shipping pallets) and then through the biofilter (Figure 1).

“It's the media or the compost where the action takes place,” says Nicolai. The exhausted air is absorbed into the biofilter media and comes into contact with microorganisms that break down the offending gases.

For the best results, Nicolai suggests using a media mixture of 20-30% compost and 70-80% woodchips to maintain adequate porosity — vital to proper airflow without backflow. The media mixture can consist of yard waste, municipal waste, etc.

When working properly, biofilters will regularly eliminate 90% of odors from hydrogen sulfide. A fair amount of ammonia odors can be prevented, provided the biofilter is kept wet, he says.

Maintenance Important

There are three things to remember when it comes to maintenance and operating the biofilter efficiently, says Nicolai.

First, producers must do a good job with rodent control. “This is the number one issue that pork producers are afraid of when it comes to biofilters because they say ‘well, this is just going to attract them and make the rodent issue worse,’” he explains. “My contention is, you've got a rodent problem anyway without a biofilter, and if you do a fairly good job of rodent control, that will be good enough for a biofilter.

“Most producers put out rodent bait stations and think, ‘okay, they are out there, I don't need to look at them now,’” says Nicolai. But bait stations need to be serviced every month or two to keep the bait fresh. Arrange bait stations systematically around the perimeter of your buildings, he suggests. Be sure to place bait stations in the small area between the building and the biofilter.

Second, “You need to keep the compost wet so you create a biofilm on the surface of that media to provide a place for the microorgranisms to live,” he adds. The goal is to keep the content of the biofilter media at a 30-60% moisture level to break down the odorous compounds.

One of the biggest challenges that Nicolai is still dealing with after eight years of working on biofilters for hog buildings is finding a sensor to monitor moisture content. In the meantime, he suggests installing a lawn sprinkler to sit on the biofilter media. Water the compost area for an hour every day during the summer and in mild weather. In winter, in the northern states, snowfall and other precipitation are usually enough to keep the biofilter plenty wet.

Third, use a herbicide to keep weeds knocked down.

Also, don't let people or cattle walk on biofilters, because the media will become compacted and lose porosity.

Occasionally repair air leaks around the perimeter of the biofilter to avoid short-circuiting the system, says Nicolai.

Biofilters may not be for everyone. But biofilters can be a tool to keep neighbors satisfied, or a community less concerned about hog odors.

Emerging Diseases Fantasy or Reality

Production changes have brought the emergence of new pig diseases such as porcine enteroviruses.

With management changes have come eradication of major diseases like hog cholera and pseudorabies from our domestic swine herds.

As those diseases have been conquered, new challenges have emerged, notably porcine reproductive and res piratory syndrome (PRRS) and porcine circovirus, the agent responsible for postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome.

Porcine enteroviruses have resurfaced, and are now appearing as Teschen Disease, Talfan Disease and Agent X.

Case Study No. 1

A 1,000-sow, farrow-to-wean farm experienced increasing sow deaths. The farm has pen gestation with 4-7 animals/pen.

A few sows were seen pushing their heads in the corners of the pens or against the walls, but most of the animals that died did not show signs of illness prior to their deaths.

Several sows were autopsied, and tissues were submitted to a diagnostic lab. No lesions were observed on postmortem examination. Lab testing revealed that Agent X, an RNA virus, was found in the brains.

In response, the farm increased the isolation time for incoming gilts. A more intense manure/material feedback protocol was initiated to expose the incoming animals and to maintain exposure within the herd. For feedback, manure was collected from farrowing rooms and taken to sows prefarrowing. Materials from all areas of the farm were provided to gilts in isolation. No downstream pig customers reported unusual clinical disease in their nursery or finisher buildings.

Problems have continued to occur sporadically in the sow herd.

Case Study No. 2

A 1,250-crated sow farm selling weaner and feeder pigs experienced increased sow mortality. The farm had used numerous sources for incoming gilts and several different semen suppliers over the past several years. Sow mortality at the farm was seasonal, but 6-9% annual death rate was common.

Last fall, the farm staff noticed more sows chewing on bars and head banging on the crates. Sows that went down were unable to rise and died very soon after showing clinical signs. Postmortem examinations on several affected animals revealed no visible infectious lesions.

Brains from several acute deaths were submitted to a diagnostic lab. The diagnosis was fluorescent antibody (FA)-positive for Agent X and polymerase chain reaction-positive for porcine encephalomyelitis virus (PEV). The PEV organism is an enterovirus thought to cause Teschen Disease. The downstream customers of the farm reported no clinical signs of encephalitis in weaners or finishers.

The sow farm increased gilt acclimation time and intensified feedback within the herd. No sows have shown clinical signs for over six months.

Case Study No. 3

A 3,000-sow, farrow-to-wean system experienced increased encephalitis in the nursery system in 2005. Initially, the cause was thought to be Strep “brainers.” These are pigs with Streptococcus suis infections in their brains that are found down on their sides and paddling.

On closer examination, pigs were in excellent health at weaning and nursery mortality was under 1%. But after four weeks in the nursery, pigs were found down on their sides and non-responsive to antibiotics. Live pigs were taken to a diagnostic lab. Pigs were FA positive for Agent X, and a federal diagnostic lab isolated a porcine enterovirus group 1 virus from the brain.

Several management changes were made throughout production: longer exposure and acclimation of incoming gilts, more intense feedback within the herd, limiting crossfostering and euthanizing the “fall-behinds.” The farm has been producing PRRS-negative pigs, which have stayed PRRS negative through the nursery phase.

Even after these changes, the nursery continues to experience 2-3% mortality with sudden onset of encephalitis. Recently, a sow that died suddenly was autopsied and the brain was positive for Agent X. As of this writing, the disease is still ongoing in the herd.


Control or eradication of major disease organisms has led to normal disease organisms in pigs causing “new” diseases.

It is vital to utilize good husbandry practices and keep good records to establish benchmarks for your farm.

If unusual disease signs occur, work closely with a veterinarian to determine the cause and implement appropriate prevention or control procedures.

Return to Pigs Despite Opposition

Dave Nelson's brothers, Dennis and Neal, label the soft-spoken farmer as the “PR guy” of their family.

As a director for the National Corn Growers Association, past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) chairman of the board for Midwest Grain Processors and an ethanol producer, Dave Nelson has had lots of experience communicating his point of view.

That experience paid off in 2003 when opposition erupted in the Lakota, IA, community as Dave, 53, Dennis, 48, and Neal, 44, were planning to build two wean-to-finish barns near their hometown.

The new barns were a return to livestock production for the Nelsons. They grew up helping their father, Harold, with cattle, sheep and hogs. Dave started raising hogs after graduating from Iowa State University (ISU) in the mid-1970s. Dennis and Neal had their own sows. But as their facilities (including A-frame farrowing huts, Cargill-style finishers and converted cattle barns) deteriorated, each decided to disperse the hogs. By 1996, the last of the Nelsons' sows were gone.

Livestock Bug Bites Again

The Nelson brothers farm independently, but share equipment and labor on a combined 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans.

The bug to return to livestock production came after seeing the benefits of increased performance and lower input costs from injecting liquid hog manure into cropland. Manure was obtained through easements with local hog producers.

“We quickly realized how good a fertilizer it is,” says Dave. “The micronutrients you gain through manure are very valuable.” In addition to access to fertilizer, adding hogs provided a new source of income and offered an on-farm job for Neal, who now oversees the facilities.

When the Trouble Started

In August 2003, as the Nelsons were about to break ground on a pair of 50 × 190 ft., tunnel-ventilated buildings, they learned about a petition being circulated in nearby Belmond, a community of 2,500, in which they were active. The list of names included a wide sweep of people the Nelsons had grown up with, including several they considered as close friends.

Odor was the chief complaint, along with concerns about water quality, property values and the general quality of life in the community.

Six or seven “concerned citizens” paid the Nelsons a personal visit to voice their displeasure. A special city council meeting was called to discuss the project.

A flurry of newspaper articles, including a front-page story in the Des Moines Register, appeared. There were also calls to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) registering complaints about the proposed project.

It was not a fun environment to live in, explains Neal and his wife, Lisa, who have a home about a mile and a half north of the site in an upscale neighborhood where several vocal opponents also resided.

“The stress was awful,” Neal says. “People stopped waving and they were talking about us.”

Dave admits the debate affected him, too, as he recalls one morning when he absent-mindedly plugged the combine with soybeans after reading a particularly disturbing article in the local newspaper. “We started to question ourselves,” he says.

Regaining Piece of Mind

Resolve and reassurance came after the Nelsons reexamined their plans and sought outside advice. They double-checked to make sure they were exceeding the siting requirements with the DNR (which did not include a state permit because the 2,450-head facility was just under the 1,000 animal unit cutoff.).

The Nelsons brought in an ISU engineer to review their proposed site and facility plans. Dave recalls, “He said, ‘If you can't build at this site in the state of Iowa, where can you build a hog facility?’”

Dave also contacted public affairs advisors at the ICGA and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) for advice in communicating with local citizens and the media. The organizations sent representatives to meet with the Nelsons and their neighbors and to help answer questions about the economic and environmental impact of the proposed livestock facility.

Calls from other farmers across the state who had faced similar opposition brought words of encouragement, which “gave us the emotional fortitude to continue,” Dave says.

Ultimately, the three brothers called a family meeting and, with their wives, decided to move forward. “We knew we were doing the right thing, so we just went ahead and built,” says Dave.

The Nelsons formed a limited liability corporation (LLC) to own and operate the two buildings, which were sited on a farm owned by their father. They signed a production contract with Pork Technologies of Ames, IA.

Steps to Reduce Odor

When they designed the site and buildings, they took several steps to minimize the potential for foul odors emanating from the facilities, such as:

  • Locating the buildings a half mile away from the road, centered on a large plot of open ground and as far away from homes as possible. The nearest neighbor is three-quarters of a mile from the site.

  • Constructing concrete underground pits where liquid manure is stored. Manure is removed and quickly injected into farm fields once a year.

  • Building tunnel-ventilated barns with exhaust fans aimed toward a windbreak of evergreen, Aussie and dogwood trees. The goal for the windbreak is to catch odor-containing dust particles and direct air upward, rather than straight across the field. The fans are pointed eastward (away from Belmond). The nearest town is roughly five miles away.

  • Using technologies such as pit additives, water treatments and a spray mist that the Nelsons say was originally developed to neutralize scents in perfume laboratories. The mist, which requires an applicator, lines and nozzles, costs about 60¢/pig, but they think it has reduced the intensity of odor in the barn. “Really, you can't even smell pigs until you get close by,” says Neal.

  • Erecting a concrete compost bunker near the facilities for dead animals.

  • Installing an on-site shower that Neal uses each time he leaves the farm. “When I go in a convenience store in town, I don't want to smell like hogs,” Neal explains. “It is all part of the philosophy of leaving the smell here.”

Restoring Peace

By January 2004, the facilities were ready for pigs. But before the first load arrived, the Nelsons took an important step toward bringing harmony back to the neighborhood. An open house was held for anyone interested in visiting the site. About 100 people, including several who were originally opposed to the site, showed up for donuts and coffee and the opportunity to walk through the building and ask questions.

“Seeing what it looked like and the safety measures that were in force might have relieved some of the anxiety. It is a very modern, up-to-date facility,” says Caye Chelesvig, Wright County supervisor, who lives nearby and was originally opposed to the Nelsons' plans.

“We were all raised in an area where there were hogs — and hogs stink,” she says. “I think people were afraid of what could happen.”

The Nelsons say there have been no complaints since the barns were put in operation. “I've had lots of people actually apologize to me for signing the petition during the past couple of years,” says Dave. Some have even joked about being disappointed that they can't smell the building, he adds.

Chelesvig says her main concern was for property values at the subdivision to the north where there are several million dollars invested in homes, which represent nest eggs for many local people. “Both sides were wanting the same thing — a better life for themselves and their families — but they were coming at it from opposite sides,” she says.

Chelesvig confirms that she has not noticed an odor problem from the farm: “He is a good operator and we have not had any problems.”

Tips for Keeping Your Cool

The Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers (CSIF) was started in 2004 to help Iowa farmers navigate rules and regulations affecting animal agriculture. CSIF includes: Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association and the Iowa Soybean Association.

To date, the coalition has worked with 380 farm families to help evaluate sites, comply with regulations, enhance relations with neighbors or address environmental quality issues.

Staffers Aaron Putze and Rex Hoppes offer this advice for keeping your cool in the face of opposition during a building project:

  • Examine yourself first

    Realize that acceptance begins well before you decide to build a new livestock facility. Ask yourself, have I been a good manager of people and land at your farm? Have I done what's in my power to be a good neighbor up to this point? If the answers are “yes,” then you've made an important first step in gaining acceptance for your new facility.

  • Seek advice

    Discuss your plans with an advisor who is familiar with your farm and your business goals. Having a sounding board can help clarify your objectives and determine the best options for achieving them. Technical experts can help address site considerations such as geological or terrain issues, wind patterns, recommended distance to water sources and proximity to neighbors and public use areas.

  • Communicate openly and honestly

    “You better be visiting with your neighbors before you begin moving dirt,” Hoppes says. But, he warns, “Don't go into a big group. No matter what he (a farmer) says, in a big group of people it will be drowned out by the animosity in the room.” Instead, Hoppes says one-on-one discussions are best. Be personal. Share your family and farm history. Explain why you want to expand. When the media calls, respond in the same way as you would to a neighbor — directly, clearly and with as little emotion as possible.

  • Celebrate the positives

    “Share how the site fits in with future prosperity of your farm and the entire area,” Putze advises. “If we celebrate new business development on Main Street, we should be doing that in rural areas, too.” Putze suggests holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies and open houses like the Nelsons did to showcase technologies and engineering measures that go into building and managing new livestock farms.

  • Be accountable

    Describe what you are building, explain who will be taking care of the livestock, and who is in charge.

It is important to keep in mind that all situations are different, with varied circumstances and priorities. “There is no cookie cutter approach, but if there was one, it would be honesty and sincerity,” says Hoppes.

Feed System Controls

The FlexTra feed auger system from Val-Co features a state-of-the art design.

Val-Co introduces its new line of feed system controls. Flexibility allows operations of 1, 2 or 3 Motor Feed Systems. State-of-the-art design offers a full range of intelligent control and monitoring. The FlexTra will control feed auger run times and delay time, and records total feed auger run time. The wall-mounted model allows remote access. The FlexTra operates on single-phase or three-phase motors. The built-in timer of FlexTra features an alarm that warns of over or under run times and switch malfunctions. An alarm relay can be used to activate external alarm devices such as a car horn or auto dialer. A pressure switch shuts off the feed when the discharge head blocks. FlexTra offers built-in protection against voltage surges. Call (800) 998-2526; e-mail sales@valcompanies.com or visit www.valcompanies.com.


The P-8 Odor Filter captures dust and particulates and reduces hydrogen sulfide and ammonia concentrations from hog barns. The Odor Filter utilizes an environmentally friendly filtering medium that the company claims will capture 80-85% of the odorous particulates. By using the self-cleaning soaker and Odorsol applicator, the filters can be kept wet and clean, thus reducing the number of filter changes. The odor filter demonstrates a proactive, highly visible way to improve air quality. Contact PORC Systems, LLC at (319) 624-7176 or e-mail porcsystems@southslope.net.

Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic

Nuflor Oral 2.3% Concentrate Solution for swine is the broadest-spectrum oral antibiotic for swine respiratory disease, according to Schering-Plough Animal Health Corp. Nuflor provides broad protection against a number of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, including Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, Pasteurella multocida, Salmonella cholerasuis and Streptococcus suis Type 2. Nuflor is in the class of antibiotics known as florfenicol, discovered and developed by Schering-Plough for use exclusively in animals. The medicated water treatment reduces labored breathing, elevated temperatures, depression and coughing. Nuflor should be used at the first sign of respiratory problems for five consecutive days. There is a 16-day withdrawal period prior to slaughter. Call (800) 211-3573 or visit www.scheringplough.com.

Pig Anti-Crush System

The Anti-Crush System can save more than half of the estimated 1-2.5 piglets/sow/year that die from crushing, according to S.E.C. Repro, Inc. The Anti-Crusher is equipped with an infrared sensor that detects when the sow sits or stands up. The system creates a non-comfort zone by blowing a gentle stream of air under the sow. Piglets want to avoid the airstream and voluntarily move to the comfort zone (heat pad or heat lamp), away from the crushing area. The Anti-Crusher should be installed in the middle of the farrowing crate at 9 to 10 in. from the flooring, one day before and up to the fifth day after farrowing. Then it can be moved to the next location. The Anti-Crusher removes in 30 seconds and takes one minute to reinstall. Call (888) 446-4647; e-mail info@secrepro.com or visit www.secrepro.com.

Skid-Steer Loaders

The new K-Series skid-steer loaders from Bobcat feature the SmartFAN cooling system, a hydraulically-driven cooling fan that senses machine-operating temperatures and then self-regulates rotation speed as necessary. The temperature-controlled, variable-speed fan optimizes the cooling needs of the loader and can be 30% quieter in some operating conditions. An optional sound-reduction package is available. The K-Series continues to offer the exclusive Bobcat dual-path cooling system, which brings in fresh air through the oil cooler and radiator, and exhausts hot air from the engine and hydrostatic area through two side vents. The Bobcat chaincase is virtually maintenance-free. Visit www.bobcatdealer.com

Send product submissions to Dale Miller, Editor (952) 851-4661; dale.miller@penton.com

Odor Tracking Goes Hi-Tech

Researchers at the National Soil Tilth Lab are coordinating with University of Iowa scientists to use lasers and wind tunnels to track how swine odors disperse.

Society's demands for answers to air quality issues have far outpaced agriculture's response, declares Jerry Hatfield, director of the National Soil Tilth Lab at Ames, IA.

Agriculture has intensified its study of livestock and poultry sites, measuring emissions and calculating their rate of dispersion in the immediate area.

But the emission, dispersion and distribution of hog odors is a very complex matrix, charges Hatfield, because it involves changes in biology of the animal, the manure pigs produce and the environment in which they are raised.

To meet these tough challenges, Hatfield and fellow scientists, who are part of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), have teamed with researchers at the University of Iowa to conduct in-depth scientific trials “to get a closer look at all the pieces of the puzzle,” he says.

Laser Technology

Hatfield and colleagues believe the approach that's needed must encompass a broader environmental footprint — from the emissions given off by an entire building complex and the impact of wind turbulence, to how particulate matter and gases are collectively distributed into the atmosphere in and around farm operations.

In essence, the daunting project has taken on a whole new light in the form of LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, — in which 1960s' radar-like technology utilizes short bursts of green laser lights to detect and differentiate airborne particles, gases or molecules.

Hatfield says his team first used LIDAR in 1998, when they were asked by the U.S. Department of the Interior to investigate the effect of salt cedar, a damaging shrub found in the southwest United States that extracts large amounts of soil moisture while leaving soil-damaging salts behind.

More recently, the technology has been used in conjunction with the space administration and other agencies to investigate the accuracy of remote sensors on land and in the air to determining ground-level moisture.

The latest project studies the dynamics of dispersion around hog facilities.

Instead of measuring emissions at set points coming out of a hog facility, Hatfield says LIDAR has the capability to scan across the entire facility, similar to “putting a bubble over this facility and being able to say, this is what is going out of this bubble.

“With LIDAR, we are viewing everything at the speed of light, so data can be gathered quickly.”

LIDAR has already shown there are “clouds” of particulate matter and low concentrations of odorous gases, such as phenols and creosols, floating around in the boundary layer of the atmosphere, which comprises the area up to two miles above the surface of the earth, explains John Prueger, ARS soil scientist at Ames, IA.

Sensitive technology like LIDAR has shown scientists that this low-level layer is an important receptacle for dust and gases from agricultural crop and livestock operations, and ranges in size from parts per billion to parts per trillion, adds Hatfield.

Wind Detection Instruments

But LIDAR is only one of the tools the ARS team is using to help pinpoint and track the substances that make up hog odors.

Part of what makes odor dispersion and distribution so unpredictable is wind turbulence, what Prueger calls one of the unsolved mysteries of physics.

ARS is also using sonic anemometers in the field to measure and profile the turbulence of the air between buildings. Sonic anemometers measure windspeed in all directions, and measure the turbulence structure of the air, explains Hatfield.

Because of the expense of conducting field experiments, National Soil Tilth Lab staff has also crafted a scale-model, low-speed wind tunnel to simulate the affects of wind currents on farms.

Wind Dynamics

In the past, air dispersion models were based on smokestack technology, which assumes that air movement is uniformly static.

However, wind patterns are actually very dynamic, says Hatfield.

“This is the first time we have really thought about how air flows in and around buildings, which a single-point test measurement won't pick up,” he stresses.

Wind dynamics suggest it may be more important for pork producers to study wind patterns and the local terrain when siting a hog barn, than it is to worry about how close the nearest neighbor is to the hog facility.

Early Adopters Reap Research Payback

Pork producers across the globe are scrambling to find technologies that offer a competitive advantage.

The trick is identifying those technologies that are relatively easy and inexpensive to adopt and offer a reasonable return.

Producers with the ability to successfully implement proven technologies and management strategies can lower cost of production or increase returns. However, the perceived financial risks and the potential for rewards often hinder early adoption.

Early adoption of research offers a significant opportunity. In order to provide more detail on the economic impact of research, Prairie Swine Centre, in conjunction with the George Morris Centre, developed an analytical tool to help provide a more detailed analysis of the economic benefit of research conducted at Prairie Swine Centre.

This financial model has the ability to simulate the economic impact and change in cost and revenue structures by applying Prairie Swine Centre research results to commercial farms of various sizes. This ability is very important in helping producers prioritize which research offers the quickest, and most substantial, payback opportunity. These can be two very different criteria.

Collaborators on the project analyzed a number of experiments conducted between 1999-2004 at the Prairie Swine Centre. Twenty-two projects were selected for a detailed financial analysis, which revealed the net benefit of specific research projects. Research projects were then prioritized in terms of net benefit per hog marketed and ease of adoption (Table 1).

Throughout the six-year period, specific research projects generated financial benefits ranging from $0.11 to $8.84/hog marketed. About 25% of the projects generated a net benefit of at least $2/market hog, while another 25% generated a return of at least $1/hog marketed.

The overall objective of the analytical tool — to assist pork producers in identifying ways to minimize costs and maximize revenues — is twofold:

  • Assist producers in identifying those technologies that can be applied in their operation, and

  • Assist in prioritizing their implementation in terms of ease of adoption.

Estimating the Impact

In order to estimate the impact of research on different types of operations, “default” farms of various sizes were developed using industry data.

It is very important to note that there tends to be greater variability in per-hog costs and revenues between similar-sized operations than across operations of different sizes. This is a function of different cost structures (i.e. age of facility), management styles and ability to adopt new technologies.

Table 1 provides a detailed economic evaluation for each research project, summarizing the range and average value (from default) on net income. Average net returns/hog marketed for all projects ranged from a low of $0.14 to $6.23 on the high end, while the minimum and maximum range in returns vary from $0.05 to $11.50/hog marketed, depending on specific research criteria.

Net benefit of each project was calculated independently; there was no attempt to look at the additive or competing effect of multiple projects implemented simultaneously.

Ease of Adoption

Canadian pork producers are recognized as innovative, and many could be classified as early adopters. With this in mind, the 22 research projects were evaluated for ease of adoption.

Ease of adoption is defined in terms of the time, labor and capital required to implement the new research information on a commercial farm. Three classifications were used — easy, moderate and difficult.

“Easy” projects are those that can be implemented within 1-3 months, require little labor and little or no capital.

“Moderate” projects can be implemented within 3-12 months, but still require little labor or capital.

“Difficult” projects require greater than 12 months to implement and are either labor and/or capital intensive.

Evaluating this list on the basis of ease of adoption may help to focus efforts on those that can provide immediate payback.

Impact on the Industry

Using this three-level description, we estimated the extent to which the industry would adopt the research results.

The “easy” projects show a broad range of returns per market hog, from $0.14 to the highest return of $6.23. It is estimated that 80% of the industry adopted easy projects, such as switching between wheat classes for starter diets or adjusting water nipples to reduce water wastage.

Moderate adoption projects, including changing energy levels in the diet, require the specialized services of a nutritionist and perhaps pen reconfiguration. These moderate projects were estimated to be adopted by 40% of the industry.

Very few projects were deemed “difficult” to adopt. Novel ingredients like mustard meal, for example, can be difficult to obtain on a regular basis. Moving to large-group sow housing systems requires extensive barn renovation or rebuilding. An estimated 10% of the industry is willing to tackle these difficult projects.

Table 2 summarizes the combination of improvement in net returns (over default) as described in Table 1, with the assumed levels of adoption for each research project. This provides an estimate of the value of Prairie Swine Centre research to the western Canadian pork industry.

For example, “Effect of Starter Feeding Regime on Variability in Body Weight and Performance in the Nursery,” is adopted on a “moderate” basis (by 40% of the industry), and provides a net return of $1.22/hog marketed. Assuming the annual marketing of 10 million hogs in western Canada, the annual benefit to the industry is estimated at $4.88 million.

Research Dividends

Whether conducted at Canadian or U.S. universities, research pays big dividends. Applied, near-market research conducted at Prairie Swine Centre continues to provide significant benefit to the entire pork industry.

All pork producers will not be able to apply all research results, nor are all research projects completely additive. Pork producers will still realize a significant improvement to their bottom line through the incorporation of any number of research results. If only 10% of the benefit was to be adopted, it would improve net return over $3/hog marketed.

Prairie Swine Centre plans to use the model to help prioritize future research projects, and to speed technology transfer to commercial pork production. Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food provided funding for the research impact study.

Editor's note: All dollar values are expressed in Canadian currency. Conversion rate is roughly US$1.00 = CAN$0.85.

Table 1. Economic Return for Selected Prairie Swine Centre Research Projects

Research Project Range in Returns $/Hog Marketed Average $/Hog Marketed Ease of Adoption
Response of Growing and Finishing Pigs to Dietary Energy Concentration $0.60 - $8.84 $4.92 Moderate
Crowding Reduces Performance of Weanling Pigs $0.88 Moderate
Soluble and Insoluble Non-Starch Polysaccharides on Digesta Passage Rate and Voluntary Feed Intake on Grower Pigs $1.89 - $2.26 $2.08 Difficult
The Effect of Starter Feeding Regimen on Variability in Bodyweight and Performance in the Nursery $0.31 - $2.61 $1.22 Moderate
Voluntary Feed Intake and Growth Performance between Grower Pigs Fed Diets Containing Mustard Meal or Canola meal $1.25 Difficult
Electronic Sow Feeder: A Preliminary Report $3.38 Difficult
Water Usage by Grower-Finisher Pigs Using Dry and Wet/Dry Feeders $0.70 Easy
Reducing Water Waste from Nipple Drinkers by Grower-Finisher Pigs $0.11 - $0.17 $0.14 Easy
Feed Processing and Nutritional Quality Among Wheat Classes Fed to Weaned Pigs $0.72 - $1.44 $1.08 Easy
Effects of Large Group Size on Productivity of Grower-Finisher Pigs* $0.38 Moderate
Effect of Dietary Crude Protein and Phase Feeding on Performance of Urinary Nitrogen Excretion of Grower Pigs $0.94 - $2.07 $1.50 Difficult
The Impact of Feeder Adjustment and Group Size/Density on Weanling Pig Performance $0.05 - $2.01 $0.69 Easy
Response to Dietary Energy Concentration and Stocking Density in Weaned Pigs $0.23 - $0.90 $0.47 Moderate
Effect of Gender and Crowding on Variation in Days to Market $2.16 - $2.16 $2.16 Moderate
The Effect of Ergot on the Performance of Weanlings $1.96 - $11.50 $6.23 Easy
Effects of Nipple Drinker Height and Flow Rate on Water Wastage in Grower and Finisher Pigs $0.09 - $0.32 $0.21 Easy
Nutritional Value of High-Oil Oat Groats $0.70 Moderate
Replacement of Soybean Meal with Canola Meal in Weaned Pigs $0.27 Moderate
Effect of Feed Presentation on the Feeding Behavior of Grower-Finisher Pigs $2.55 Easy
Performance and Carcass Quality of Growing-Finishing Pigs Submitted to Reduced Nocturnal Temperatures $1.03 Easy
An Oil Sprinkling System for Dust Control in Pig Buildings $0.18 Moderate
The Digestible Energy Content of Hull-Less Barley $1.49 Moderate

Table 2. Total Annual Research Contribution to the Western Canadian Pork Industry

Ease of Adoption Total Contribution ($000's) Percent Contribution
Easy $101,091 63.2%
Moderate $50,737 31.7%
Difficult $8,208 5.1%
Total $160,037 100%
*Calculations based on average western Canadian hog marketings of 10 million annually and expressed in Canadian dollars.