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Articles from 2016 In April

Purina selects the RxExpress platform for VFD compliance

Purina Animal Nutrition has selected the RxExpress software platform from New Planet Technologies as its tool to help meet feed documentation requirements of the Veterinary Feed Directive. This federal regulation mandates documentation of a veterinarian’s approval to feed or distribute feed additive antibiotics that are deemed medically important to production livestock. It goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“After reviewing the available options designed to help meet VFD requirements, we chose RxExpress,” says Dan Moran, director of swine feed marketing for Purina Animal Nutrition and a member of Purina’s VFD compliance team. “Working with RxExpress and its developers at New Planet Technologies will allow our team of nutritionists to focus on what they do best — helping ensure our products provide the best possible nutrition and performance.”

Livestock producers, feed manufacturers and feed distributors are required to retain documentation of VFD orders. A turn-key software solution, RxExpress can be used to generate, distribute and store electronic VFD orders.

“We are pleased to be working with Purina Animal Nutrition,” says Tyson Hartshorn, New Planet Technologies president and CEO. “RxExpress is now available to feed manufacturers and distributors for use in preparation of VFD compliance.”

RxExpress runs on any computer or smart mobile device, online or offline. It can receive records from other electronic VFD systems and can convert paper VFD orders to electronic format. It streamlines order validation and tracks expiration dates. It also can generate and send non-VFD prescriptions.

For more information, contact your local Purina Animal Nutrition representative, call 800-227-8941 or go to To learn more about RxExpress from New Planet Technologies, call 888-633-4030 or go to

Six St. Joseph, Mo.,-area educators receive 'Innovating for Tomorrow' scholarship awards

For the third year, educators in the St. Joseph (Mo.) School District are receiving $10,000 in scholarships to further their professional development in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM-related areas. The awards are presented by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., a global leader in the animal health industry.

“I can’t thank BIVI enough for providing the opportunity for our staff to increase their repertoire of STEM concepts and bring their new teaching ideas to life in the classroom,” said Sandy Steggall, director of secondary education for the St. Joseph School District.

The 2016 recipients of the “Innovating for Tomorrow” scholarships were presented today during the annual St. Joseph School District Tribute for Teachers event.

“The future of scientific innovation depends on the education and inspiration that today’s teachers bring to the classroom,” said Albrecht Kissel, president and CEO of BIVI. “We are pleased to help support local teachers so they may expand their scientific knowledge and pass along the excitement and satisfaction of scientific discovery to their students.”

Scholarship recipients 
The 2016 scholarships were presented to six teachers who submitted proposals for five initiatives designed to expand their professional knowledge and provide educational experiences and tools for their students. Highlights from the recipients’ applications feature details on the initiatives their scholarships will support as well as their goals for these projects.

Deborah Ballin, Gifted Program
Ballin is receiving a scholarship to attend this year’s National Science Teachers Association conference. Her goal is to learn about the most up-to-date products, equipment and strategies available for her students, as well as having the opportunity for networking and securing resources for classroom use. “Working with gifted students and keeping abreast of latest developments helps to increase students’ exposure to new ideas.”

Sally Cosgrove, Lafayette High School
In 2015, Cosgrove received a scholarship to attend STEM training where she learned about Vernier software. This year, she received additional support to purchase the equipment for her school. “Vernier puts easy-to-use data loggers, sensors, experiments and graphing/analysis software into the hands of students. This equipment will be a dynamic way to teach STEM and apply advanced math skills.”

Tanya Dalrymple, Truman Middle School
Dalrymple is using her scholarship to take members of the Truman Science Department to the 2016 Science in the Rockies conference in Denver, Colo. At the conference, educators will “… learn about more than 75 ready-to-use science activities that are inquiry based, standards related and kid tested.” These techniques will help reinforce scientific concepts for students with simple, fun, hands-on activities as well as help the teachers feel more confident in “… building real-world connections to simple concepts.”  

Jay Meyers, Central High School
“By attending the fifth annual STEM Forum and Expo, hosted by the NSTA, I will learn more about an integrated approach to real-world connections and hands-on experiences that will establish a solid STEM education for students in grades nine to 12.” Meyers plans to attend sessions that “… highlight strategies and curricula designed both for formal and informal learning environments that best facilitate effective STEM integration and STEM career awareness.”

Lori West and Samantha Trautman, Mark Twain Elementary
West and Trautman plan to use their scholarship to attend the International Society for Technology in Education conference with the goal to “… help our staff and students to think globally and see past the walls of the classroom.”

Since initiating the “Innovating for Tomorrow” scholarship program in 2014, BIVI has funded 26 scholarships amounting to a total contribution of $45,000 to further STEM education for area teachers in St. Joseph, Mo., and Fort Dodge, Iowa.

National Hog Farmer

Blueprint: Genome-enabled selection improves pig production

Improvement seen at the commercial level is in part a result of genomeenabled technology advancements made by genetic suppliers
<p>Improvement seen at the commercial level is, in part, a result of genome-enabled technology advancements made by genetic suppliers.</p>

In order to understand how genome-enabled selection is used to improve the performance of livestock today, it is important to look back and see how we have gotten to where we are at today.

Improving livestock performance has been a goal since mankind domesticated the various species for its use. Advancements made in the animal breeding area have been designed to increase the accuracy with which we choose the correct parents to produce the next set of offspring. The traits they receive include traits contributing to producing that species profitably like number born alive, growth rate and backfat.

In the early days, animal breeders were led by Jay Lush, considered the father of modern-day animal breeding ideas and techniques. He was known as the father of modern-day animal breeding for understanding that the traits that determine commercial profitability are controlled by genes that pass from one generation to the next, and that relatives are more likely to perform similarly than animals that are not related to one another.

Lush and his student, Lanoy Hazel, are credited with developing selection index theory. The practical use of this work allowed breeders to combine all of the traits they considered important and wanted to include as selection criteria for their breeding animals. Where economics were measured, traits had appropriate economic values associated with them such that the total index value was based on a given animal’s economic value for all traits included in the index.

Breeders progressed further when C. R. Henderson developed Best Linear Unbiased Prediction, or BLUP technology. This is the most common method to estimate breeding values and rank animals based on genetic merit. It relies on measuring traits (phenotypic information) on animals and their relatives to determine the expected genetic potential for all animals in the genetic evaluation. This method only uses recorded performance values for traits considered as opposed to additional molecular information that could be used. This technology has allowed the swine industry to make tremendous genetic improvement in economically important traits. For example, the number of pigs born alive has increased tremendously since BLUP technology was implemented, improving the number born alive by approximately 3% per year.

Finally, we get to where we are at today. Most commercial swine producers may not even know much about the genome-enabled selection their genetic supplier is using other than the supplier told them they are using this technology. The reality is that this technology is set to allow swine breeders to make the next greatest leap in genetic improvement.

With the advancement of genotyping technology along with computer software and hardware technology, researchers have established ways to incorporate this new technology into breeding programs. The process of integrating genomic information into a selection strategy is known as genome-enabled selection.

How does it work?

For genome-enabled selection, a DNA sample is collected from individual animals, and the sample is assayed (genotyped) to determine the genetic information at many points along the DNA strand. The focus of DNA collection is on nucleus males and females.

Further, the number of points at which genetic information is collected can vary from small (5,000 to 6,000 base pairs) to large (50,000 to 80,000 base pairs) to complete genome sequencing. This information is used in breeding value estimation. Determining an animal’s genetic merit at the molecular level can improve the accuracy of estimated breeding values. There are two approaches to genome-enabled selection:

■ Methods that use genomic relationships (GBLUP)

■ Methods that estimate marker effects (SNP effect models)

Genomic relationships

The weighted sum of genomic information is computed by combining the genomic EBV and the EBV from traditional BLUP selection by modifying the relationship matrix that is used in traditional BLUP selection.

Typically, the relationship matrix used in genetic evaluations is based on pedigree relationships among animals in the evaluation. With GBLUP methods, the relationship matrix will include genomic relationship information. The genotyping information collected on animals in the genetic evaluations will be used to determine the portion of DNA that is common among two animals compared to average amount of DNA common among animals based on pedigree.

A weighted sum is computed by combining the GBLUP EBV and the EBV from traditional BLUP selection. After the relationship matrix has been modified, the genetic evaluation is conducted using BLUP methods.

Estimating marker effects

When genomic selection is used, an EBV is calculated for each animal based solely on genomic information.

The effect of each locus is estimated after accounting for other fixed effects such as contemporary group. The effects of genomic information at each locus genotyped are summed to estimate the genetic merit of the animal. These effects are estimated from a training population with phenotypic records.

A weighted sum is computed by combining the marker effects with the genomic EBV and the EBV from traditional BLUP selection. This sum is then used as the index value for each animal.

The information from BLUP and genomics are combined in order to ensure that all information available is used in the selection process. If only genomic information is used, the response to selection may not exceed the response to selection based on BLUP breeding values.


There are different densities of genotyping. High-density genotyping involves analyzing approximately 60,000 (or larger) loci on an animal’s DNA. Low-density genotyping analyzes as few as 300 to 400 loci. The price of low-density genotyping is less than half the cost of high-density genotyping.

Imputation is a method used to reduce the costs associated with genome-enabled selection by genotyping key ancestors using the high-density panels and genotype selection candidates using the low-density panels and then using the high-density genotypes of ancestors to infer or impute the genotypes at missing loci on the animal’s genotype using low density. The correlation between the low-density and high-density genotyping has been shown to be ~ (approximately) 0.95.

Accuracy of EBVs

The expected benefit of genome-enabled selection is improved accuracy of EBVs. Increasing EBV accuracy will proportionally increase the rate of genetic gain expected given that selection intensity and generation interval result from the direct relationship between accuracy and rate of genetic gain. This increase in accuracy will have to be high enough to recover the added costs associated with using genomic information in the selection program.

This improved accuracy comes from being able to estimate the genetic merit of an animal at an earlier age, potentially before acquiring performance information from the individual itself or its progeny when genomic selection is practiced. Traditional selection has limitations that can be improved upon using genome-enabled selection, including meat quality traits (typically measured on relatives, in this case progeny, most efficiently), traits where all animals cannot be measured or evaluated (feed efficiency), or on traits that are expressed from only one sex (milk production, semen production).

Improved accuracy occurs when GBLUP selection is practiced, giving better estimation of genetic relationships among animals rather than using expected genetic relationships based on pedigree information. Using marker-assisted selection has increased the response to selection in meat quality, net feed intake and pigs born alive compared to the response from BLUP, with the largest gap between marker-assisted selection and BLUP being for meat quality. However, less improvement has been observed for traits like growth rate (days to market, average daily gain, etc.) when comparing marker-assisted and BLUP selection methods because ADG can be measured on all selection candidates.


Commercial producers may not directly see advancement in any given trait that they can directly attribute to the newest genomic technology. However, rest assured that any improvement seen at the commercial level is a result in part of genome-enabled technology advancements made by genetic suppliers.

The greatest impact of genome-enabled selection is expected for traits that are low in heritability, hard to measure or measured late in life such as disease resistance, feed efficiency and longevity. Disease resistance is not easily defined and systematically measured. Feed efficiency is expensive to measure, especially on an individual animal basis. Sow longevity is not recorded until the sow is culled from the herd and is a trait that is only measured on females.

With traits that are not currently measured, an added cost of measuring the novel traits will be associated with genome-enabled selection if these traits are targeted. 

National Hog Farmer

Blueprint: Improving sow lactation performance

Litter size is one of the most important factors that drives milk production in the sow
<p>Litter size is one of the most important factors that drives milk production in the sow.</p>

Lactation, a ubiquitous feature of all mammals, involves secretion of milk from mammary glands and is an essential process in mammalian reproduction. Energy requirements during lactation are very high, as the female has to meet maintenance and milk production requirements simultaneously.

Today’s sow has additional challenges as a result of genetic and management changes that have occurred in the past few decades. Litter size in pigs has increased during this period, and larger litters mean more demand for milk, which results in increased milk output from the lactating sow. Poor body condition of the sow at weaning can result in a longer wean-to-service interval. Studies have suggested that selection for increased feed efficiency and leanness during the grow-finish stage can result in a reduction of sow appetite, as there exists a negative genetic correlation between leanness and appetite.

Because of this, sows with heavy selection emphasis on increased grow-finish feed efficiency are prone to reduced voluntary feed intake during lactation. All these factors result in a pig that excels in lean growth but has reduced potential for lactation traits. Poor lactation traits can lead to decreased longevity (early culling) and lifetime production, which in turn reduces profitability. To improve lactation performance, along with other traits of economic importance, we need a better understanding of traits associated with lactation and their interactions with other traits. Our objective is to explain the complex genetic relationships among traits associated with lactation and reproduction, and how these can be improved genetically using available genomic tools.

Factors affecting nutrient requirements

Farrowing marks the end of gestation and starts the lactation phase. The nutrient requirement of sows during lactation is difficult to quantify and evaluate, as it changes daily due to changes in feed consumption; milk composition; and volume, body weight loss and the composition of this weight loss.

Litter size is one of the most important factors that drives milk production in the sow. As a result of genetic selection, litter size has increased during the past decades and will remain as an important goal in pig breeding programs. In response to greater suckling intensity resulting from larger litters, sows that nurse more piglets produce more milk. An increase in litter size is directly correlated to an increase in mammary gland tissue, which results in higher milk production and, thereby, higher energy requirements for the sow.

Parity also plays a major role in the nutrient requirements of lactating sows. As body weight increases with parity, maintenance requirements also increase. Nutrient requirements for first parity sows during lactation are higher than for older sows, as young sows are still growing during lactation. They require additional nutrients for growth, structural formation and mammary gland development, along with the requirements for replenishing body reserves that are mobilized during lactation. Studies conducted on first parity sows by overfeeding them during lactation concluded that first parity sows partition the extra energy to body growth rather than to milk production.

Stage of lactation is another factor that determines the nutrient requirements of sows during lactation. Under modern management, the average lactation length in sows is around 21 days. Energy requirements during this three-week period are much higher than during gestation, as the metabolism of a lactating sow is much higher than that of a gestating sow. Sows lose body reserves (measured as backfat and loin depth) during the first two to three weeks of lactation to support milk production, and thereafter start to recover the lost body reserves. Reducing the lactation length hampers this recovery process.

Availability of body reserves at the time of farrowing is another element that plays a vital role in regulating the energy requirements of sows during lactation. Fat sows do not require as much feed during lactation, while sows with low body reserves at farrowing cannot mobilize many resources, and need more feed during lactation to compensate for this reduced mobilization. Studies indicate that sows with more backfat at farrowing consumed 30% less feed during lactation compared to lean sows. Body weight and fat deposits influence feed intake by modulating long-term regulatory mechanisms.

Energy sources

Feed consumed and body reserves mobilized during lactation are the two sources of energy for a lactating sow (energy input). Factors that positively affect appetite of lactating sows are increasing stage of lactation, litter size (or milk production), growth rate of piglets, parity number and feeding frequency.

Lactation feed intake is low immediately post-farrowing and attains a maximum by the second or third week of lactation. The lower feed intake during early lactation is likely due to gastrointestinal limitations, as the GI tract may require time to adapt to the high daily feed requirement. Feed intake during lactation also depends on factors such as breed, feeding system, housing, management and temperature. Table 1 shows the total feed consumed by purebred Yorkshire and Landrace sows, during a 20-day lactation period, in different parities.

Energy requirements of a lactating sow are usually not met by voluntary feed intake alone. Therefore, to meet energy demands, sows mobilize body reserves, and thus lose weight during lactation. The physiological drive of a lactating sow to produce milk at the expense of other body functions is a key component of the metabolic state of the lactating sow and is controlled by factors such as genetics, parity, stage of lactation and litter size. Mobilization of body reserves during lactation can be measured in different ways, such as body weight loss, backfat loss, loin depth loss, fat mass loss, protein mass loss, etc. On average, sows lose around 7 to 12 kilograms of body weight during lactation (after accounting for weight loss due to piglets and placental fluids, and for the water content in mammary glands) and 2 to 3 millimeters of back fat and loin depth.

Energy output during lactation

Energy available from feed intake and mobilization of body reserves is used for growth and maintenance of the sow and for producing milk. That part of the energy that is utilized for producing milk, which in turn is used for the growth and maintenance of piglets, is considered as the output from the sow during lactation. Unlike in dairy cattle, direct measurement of milk yield is not practical in pigs. Experimental methods such as weigh-suckle-weigh or isotope dilution are complicated, labor-intensive and expensive, and hence cannot be implemented on a routine basis in a nucleus herd.

Routine evaluation of milk yield needs a simple, more straightforward measurement. The increase in body weight of piglets nursed by the sow from birth to weaning is a simple and useful indicator trait for the milk production of a sow.

The entire energy flow/energy metabolism during lactation is summarized in Figure 1.

Relationships between traits

Body resource mobilization and litter weight gain. Different studies have shown that genetic correlations of litter weight gain (an indicator trait for milk yield) with body tissue mobilization traits are significantly positive (ranging from 0.24 to 0.57), i.e., sows with a high genetic predisposition to use body reserves during lactation also have the ability to wean heavier piglets at the end of lactation.

Feed intake, body resource mobilization and litter weight gain. Studies indicate that the genetic correlation between feed intake and litter weight gain is positive, but not very high (ranging from 0.06 to 0.31). At the same time, genetic correlations of lactation feed intake with traits associated with body tissue loss during lactation are strongly negative (-0.35 to -0.70), indicating that sows that have the genetic ability to eat more during lactation show significantly smaller body tissue loss. This pattern of association — i.e., strong negative genetic correlations of feed intake with tissue mobilization traits and a relatively weak but positive genetic correlation of feed intake with litter weight gain — reflects how the dietary energy is partitioned in the sow’s body. This suggests that the feed consumed by the sow during lactation is predominantly used for reducing sow body tissue losses rather than for milk production. These results also suggest that the milk production potential of a sow is genetically more driven by body resource mobilization than by lactation feed intake.

Body reserves accumulated during gestation and litter weight gain. During gestation, dramatic changes occur in the metabolism of mammals, as the dam has to accommodate the energetic demand for the developing fetuses and for its own maintenance, and also has to allow accumulation of energy stores in anticipation of lactation. These accumulated energy sources, along with the energy depots that were replenished during the latter part of the previous lactation (by increased feed intake), act as a source of energy during lactation. Studies have shown that the genetic correlation of body reserves at the beginning of lactation with body tissue mobilization during lactation is negative, i.e., sows with genetically greater body reserves at farrowing mobilize fewer body reserves during lactation.

As discussed before, body reserve mobilization traits are positively correlated (genetically) with litter weight gain, i.e., sows that genetically mobilize less body reserves wean lighter litters. These two results suggest that “heavy/fat sows” at farrowing may not be “good mothers.” Fat sows have fewer protein reserves to supply substrates for milk production, compared to lean sows of similar weight, which may be a reason for their lower milk production.

Improving performance

Studies suggest that traits associated with lactation in pigs are heritable and have sufficient genetic variation, and hence these traits can be improved by means of selection. Pedigree-based genetic evaluation methods have been very successful for selecting animals for easy-to-measure traits. However, most of the traits associated with lactation and reproduction in pigs are either less heritable, appear later in life or are difficult to measure on a routine basis. So for these traits, genomic selection can be an attractive alternative to pedigree-based evaluation methods.

At Genesus, in collaboration with the University of Alberta and Iowa State University and with funding from Genome Alberta and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, we have conducted a detailed study of more than 1,500 Yorkshire and Landrace sows for traits associated with lactation and reproduction. The sows were weighed and scanned for backfat and loin depth at around five days before farrowing and at weaning. The piglets were individually weighed immediately after birth, at fostering and at death or weaning. Daily feed consumption of each sow was measured using automatic feed recording equipment. All sows were genotyped using the Illumina Porcine 60k SNP Chip.

Genomic prediction methods involve estimating marker effects on a training data set and then testing the effects on a validation group. Within each breed, a subset (~ [approximately] 15%) of younger animals was allocated to the validation group. Estimated breeding values using genomic prediction for the validation group of animals were arrived at by summing the marker effects estimated in the training data set for the marker values of the genotype. Accuracies of the predicted breeding values (both genomic estimated breeding value and estimated breeding value from pedigree-based methods not using genomic data) were estimated as the correlation between the breeding values and phenotypes corrected for fixed effects of the animals in the validation data set, divided by the square root of heritability of that trait. The accuracies of GEBV and EBV from pedigree-based genetic evaluations are detailed in Table 2.

Accuracies of the GEBV and EBV for the Yorkshire and Landrace sows show that there are differences between breeds. Interestingly, feed intake during lactation showed only small differences in accuracies of GEBV and EBV for either breed. For most traits in both breeds, the accuracies for the genomic prediction methods were, on average, 60% higher than pedigree-based estimates. However, it should be noted that it is probably necessary to do the analysis for each breed and combining data across breeds should be done with care. The results show promise for routine use of genomic prediction methods to predict the genetic merit of animals at a young age, especially for traits with low heritability and those that are difficult to measure.


In conclusion, traits associated with lactation in sows have a sizable genetic component and potential for genetic improvement. Including traits associated with lactation in a maternal selection index should allow concurrent improvement of sow lactation performance along with grow-finish performance. For many of these traits, there are practical challenges associated with their routine measurements. Utilization of genomic tools can be an option to overcome this problem.

Pre-World Pork Expo Tours provide insight into U.S. ag

Pre-World Pork Expo Tours provide insight into U.S. ag

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is offering two tours prior to the 2016 World Pork Expo that provide unique insights into U.S. agriculture. Set for June 6-7, the two-day tour will travel to locations in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, showcasing commercial hog systems, farm equipment production and agricultural shipping channels. The one-day tour on June 7 will highlight agricultural businesses in central Iowa, with a look at modern swine production and food marketing, feed grain research and product development. The tours include transportation and meals on tour days, as well as free admission to World Pork Expo, June 8-10, featuring the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.

“This year’s pre-World Pork Expo tours follow the long tradition of providing visitors with a snapshot of U.S. agriculture’s diversity from on-farm hog production to product research and development to equipment manufacturing and shipping,” says Greg Thornton, tour organizer for NPPC. “While the tours are open to anyone, they are particularly informative for international visitors and can make their time at World Pork Expo even more meaningful.”

The Two-day Tour
The two-day tour, underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, travels through Iowa and into Illinois and Indiana. Participants can board the bus in Des Moines on Sunday, June 5, or can meet the group at Holiday Inn Express in Chicago, on Monday, June 6. The tour will venture into Indiana to visit Fair Oaks Farms, home of The Pig Adventure for a view of modern pork production. Participants will dine on site at the Farmhouse Restaurant. The overnight stop will take place at Jumer’s Hotel and Casino. On day two, the tour heads to the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois, and a new, state-of-the art JBSfeedmill and a modern wean-to-finish barn managed by JBS. Participants also will get an up-close look at grain export activities during a barge trip down the Mississippi River. The tour bus will return to Des Moines for dinner on the evening of June 7.

Cost for the two-day tour is U.S. $450 per person, which includes bus transportation, lodging on June 6, meals on tour days and World Pork Expo admission.

The One-day Tour
The one-day tour takes place on Tuesday, June 7, and will focus on agricultural businesses in Central Iowa. The tour will begin and end the day in Des Moines. This action-packed trip will include a look at crop and feed segments related to pork production with a stop at theDuPont Pioneer Research & Development Center. A visit to a modern wean-to-finish barn and a new, state-of-the art feedmill owned by JBS, followed by a stop at a Hy-Vee grocery store for perspective on the U.S. retail food sector and dinner at the iconic Machine Shed Restaurant completes the day’s events.

The cost for this one-day tour is U.S. $150 per person, which includes bus transportation, meals on the tour, as well as free admission to World Pork Expo.

“These pre-Expo tours are a great way to get a sense of what U.S., and more specifically Iowa, agriculture is like. It provides participants with an up close and personal look, with opportunities to ask questions,” says John Weber, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Then tour participants can spend the following days at World Pork Expo for a look at the latest pork production technologies, products and services, as well as hearing leading experts discuss research and production tips during the numerous seminars offered.”

Space is limited
Both tours have limited space, so interested individuals should go to and register as soon as possible. Once there, select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours." The website will provide updated details about the tours, as well as a schedule of Expo activities and general registration information. The site also offers information about room availability at official World Pork Expo hotels, answers to Frequently Asked Questions and other helpful tips about traveling to World Pork Expo.

The 2016 World Pork Expo takes place June 8-10, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Highlights include more than 310,000 square feet of commercial exhibits from hundreds of companies throughout the world. Trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, and Thursday, June 9, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 10. Swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 11, from 8 a.m. until they are completed (at approximately noon).

World Pork Expo, the world's largest pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit


Merck Animal Health receives Nebraska Governor’s Bioscience Award

Merck Animal Health is pleased to announce that the Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association has selected the company as the recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Bioscience Award. The award, which recognizes significant contributions to Nebraska’s bioscience industry and overall economy, is given to an organization that has made a considerable impact on the state through innovation, business creation, investment and leadership. It is the highest honor bestowed by Bio Nebraska and was presented by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

“This distinctive award is a testament to the pioneering work our employees are doing every day within our company’s Nebraska-based facilities, as well as our long-standing commitment to investing in the communities in which we work and live,” said Scott Bormann, vice president, North America, Merck Animal Health. “We are extremely honored by this recognition and are proud to partner with BNLSA in the ongoing advancement of science and technology, and the creation of economic development opportunities.” 

Merck Animal Health’s Nebraska-based facilities are both deemed “Centers of Excellence” for companion animal and poultry research and development. The team was instrumental in the rapid development and licensing of the company’s canine influenza H3N2 vaccine to promptly address an outbreak of the H3N2 strain of the disease, which had never been seen in the United States. In addition, the team’s innovative work in poultry vaccines is helping producers provide optimal care to their flocks.

Bio Nebraska champions technology while advocating for its member organizations by promoting academic, industry and government partnerships to foster the growth of life sciences within the state.

For more information visit the Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association website or the Merck Animal Health website.

Do your draft homework to develop a strong pork team

Last night was an event that will forever change the lives of many young people, as 32 young men were chosen in the first round of the National Football League draft — a meat market of sorts as the league’s teams attempt to land the best collegiate talent to lead them to next year’s Super Bowl.

Scouts from NFL teams pore over the stats and character of all players to strap on the pads and helmets for the past few years. Players are scrutinized for every facet of their game to see if talent on Saturday afternoons can parlay into big paydays of Sunday afternoons (and Sunday evenings, and Monday evenings, and Thursday evenings) in the NFL.

While scouts are scouring the college ranks for the next “big thing” to help the professional team, coaches and general managers and other executives of the pro teams are evaluating what they currently have on roster. Are there weak spots? Will there be retirements? Who will be leaving to another team through free agency?

Now, let’s switch from talking pigskin to talking pig barns. What if your hog operation was able to participate in a draft to find the best new talent to help your operation? You may work in your operation every day, but do you really know the level of success that your team is reaching? Could your team do better? Where are the weak spots on your roster? What is the most important position on your team?

In January, Kent Bang of AgStar wrote about developing your swine production team, and taking a hard look at the overall performance of your operation.

Today’s technology can track the infinite details of hog and employee performance. Without proper recordkeeping, you have no way to truly know the strength or, maybe more important, the weak links.

Who is your top performer?

You know that efficiency and attention in the farrowing room are vital to your bottom line. Do you have the right people watching over the mother herd? What about all that comes before the females enter the farrowing room? Who’s overseeing the gestation unit? Who’s caring for the replacement gilts? Who’s doing your power washing?

Yes, who’s doing your power washing? That may be the lowest task on the hog farm totem pole, but it may also be the most important, especially if it’s not done well. If your power washing specialist drops the ball and there is a biosecurity breach, then what everyone else does on the farm may not matter. Don't overlook any task or performer on your team.

No, there isn’t a draft for young talent to work on hog operations, but there is employee turnover in barns so managers and owners should have a good grasp on the key components that make their operation tick. That way, when a personnel change is necessary, there will be a better idea of who can be moved around within the operation. Or, if they do have to hire from outside the operation, the profile of the next “big thing” will be at the ready and the hiring process can be a smooth transition.

Not every addition to your team will be a Peyton Manning who will have a long and successful career. But you want to also avoid a Johnny Manziel or a Ryan Luck, two high prospects who fizzled in the pro game.

College graduations are very close, and with it will be a number of animal science graduates who may provide that missing piece of your production puzzle to lead your operation to the pork Super Bowl.

EPA announces 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing 24 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners across 12 states, the District of Columbia and Canada for outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, promotion and use of a range of cleaning and other household products that carry the Safer Choice label. Administrator McCarthy announced the winners at an event at a local hardware store in San Francisco today. 

“Everyone wants products with ingredients that are safer for their kids, pets, communities and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Using technology and innovation to turn challenges into profitable opportunities makes our businesses stronger and more competitive, our families and workers healthier, and our environment cleaner.” 

The Safer Choice standards were developed through a multi-stakeholder process, with a range of businesses and public interest groups, including environmental and health advocacy organizations. EPA assesses ingredients for the Safer Choice program based on a full chemical identification. Where necessary, EPA requires studies to prove safety of the chemicals used, and applies the expertise of chemists and toxicologists who have assessed thousands of chemicals.

These stringent human and environmental health safety standards mean that consumers can know with certainty that a product’s safety claims are backed by science. Safer Choice currently has around 500 formulator-manufacturer partners who make more than 2,000 products for retail and institutional customers. 

The 2016 Partner of the Year award winners represent a wide variety of leadership organizations. Participants include Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, and non-governmental organizations. The 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards will be presented at 2:00 p.m. on May 9, 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The winners fall under the following categories:

Safer Formulator-Manufacturer: Boulder Clean (Boulder, Colo.), BISSELL (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Case Medical, Inc. (South Hackensack, N.J.), Clean Control Corporation (Warner Robins, Ga.), The Clorox Company (Pleasanton, Calif.), Futurescape Inc. (Port Orange, Fla.), Jelmar, LLC (Skokie, Ill.), Osprey Biotechnics Inc. (Sarasota, Fla.), RB (Parsippany, N.J.) and Seventh Generation Inc. (Burlington, Vt.)

Safer Chemical Innovator: BASF Corporation (Florham Park, N.J.), Ecolab (Eagan, Minn.), Osprey Biotechnics (Sarasota, Fla.) and Virox Technologies Inc. (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)

Purchaser/Distributor: Solutex, Inc. (Sterling, Va.)

Retailer: Albertsons Companies (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. (Rochester, N.Y.) 

Program Supporter: American Sustainable Business Council (Alexandria, Va.), The Ashkin Group (Los Angeles), Consumer Specialty Products Association (Washington, D.C.), Environmental Defense Fund (New York, N.Y.), Federal Sustainable Acquisitions and Materials Management Practices (SAMM) Working Group (Washington, D.C.), Healthy Schools Campaign (Chicago), ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (Northbrook, Ill.), Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (New York, N.Y.)

When companies demonstrate a commitment to the health of their customers and the planet, consumers respond. Not only does the Safer Choice program put the power of choice into the hands of consumers, it actually incentivizes manufacturers to change the ingredients in their products – so they can meet the strict safety criteria the Safer Choice label demands. 

More on the 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners, and registration for the Awards Ceremony, can be found at


Burning questions kids ask about pig farming

Fair Oaks Farm provides an escape to the country and a welcoming environment for the public to learn about modern farming practices. Over 110,000 visitors came to Fair Oaks, Ind., to reconnect with the family farm. While the first animal adventure was the Dairy Adventure, the Pig Adventure is now drawing many to view the world of real pig farming. Last year over 80,000 people watch the glass-enclosed, overhead panoramic view of the sows and pigs at Legacy Farms.

The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farm is a work in progress. The Legacy Farms opened in August 2013, the pig educational center opened in June 2015 and soon the third phase will be the distance learning initiative.

Megan Inskeep, a local  veterinarian with Rensselaer Swine Services in Rensselaer, Ind., who works with the farm, shared with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians the common questions and concerns visitors voice while visiting Legacy Farms.

In this gallery, we recap the top questions the kids ask the Fair Oaks Farm team while visiting the farrowing and gestation barns. The staff did share with Inskeep that the most difficult things to explain were the facts around slaughter, farrowing and euthanasia.