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Global changes in the pork industry

The Global Mega Producer list illustrates the dynamics of the world's pork industry.  The global swine business demographics are transforming with 90% of the pigs raised outside of the United States.

Jim Long, president and CEO, Genesus Inc., offers insight into the global changes in the pork industry and the role all hog farmers play in producing pork for the world. "We believe size is not a limitation for people to be in the swine business. The technology is available to everyone. There is no barrier of entry. They have to realize they can compete," stresses Long.



Tropical Storm Cindy will shove heavy rains into Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Flint, Michigan, airport attack yesterday is being investigated as terrorist attack. 

It will be months before federal judge rules on Dakota Access suit filed by Dakota people.

Our pork exports out of U.S. are being described as just fantastic. Shipments to Mexico account for most of gain. China has been absent from U.S. pork market for most of this year.

Zookeepers at Kansas City Zoo are mourning loss of one of their chimps, which fell to its death yesterday. He was 31 years ago. Chimps in captivity can live to be 60.

Joel Harris joins GlobalVetLINK as director of product

Joel Harris

GlobalVetLINK is pleased to announce Joel Harris has joined the company as the director of product. Harris brings more than 10 years of marketing, sales, operations and product management experience in the animal health market to his new role at GVL.

Previously, Harris served as the vice president of Operations at Harrisvaccines, which was acquired by Merck Animal Health in 2015. During the business integration, Harris served as an associate director of Marketing for Merck Animal Health until November 2016.

Harris also serves as a mentor and adviser to entrepreneurs and startup businesses in the agtech, biotech and healthcare industries. He is the co-director of the Ag Startup Engine, an entrepreneur program that fosters business startups, innovation and technology transfer at Iowa State University.

At GlobalVetLINK, Harris will lead market research and product strategy efforts. His team will work to identify, analyze and develop new product and new market opportunities across all customer types and market segments.

“We are excited to welcome Joel to the GlobalVetLINK team,” says Cliff Smith, GlobalVetLINK CEO. “With his years of experience in animal health and relationships in the industry, we are confident that Harris will have an impact on our always-evolving products and services.”


It was the third time in two weeks that the president visited our part of the country - Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa - as he spoke, crowd estimated at 6,000 listened. Also visited Kirkwood Community College. Branstad was beside him. Trump told Branstad to have a good time in China. Trump talked about need for improved broadband in rural America. Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that more than a third of rural Iowa residents lacked broadband.

Ag ministers of Canada, Mexico and U.S. agreed that NAFTA has served all three nations well. Relatively few differences on ag trade between the NAFTA nations.

We reported on closing of very last Lum's restaurants in Illinois last week, out of 400 that once served customers. 

Farm Progress America, June 22, 2017

Max Armstrong continues to look at that recent farm forum at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which looked at the economic impacts that could lead to consolidation among family farms. Farm incomes are down and farms are short of working capital. Max looks at other issues that could impact farm income.

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

Photo: zakaz86/Thinkstock

We all like new things: Pigs share same desires

Getty Images/Scott Olson Small pigs in a pen

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
We can’t help but be tempted by new things. We see it in a child’s eyes when she opens a new toy, and feel it every time a new version of the iPhone is released. It turns out our preference for shiny, new things is pretty universal throughout the animal kingdom. Yes, even piglets prefer new toys.

In a recent study from the Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Lab at the University of Illinois, 3- and 4-week-old piglets were given dog toys to play with. Then, after a certain delay, they were given that toy again, along with a new one. Researchers wanted to see if the delay diminished the piglets’ memory of the first object.

University of Illinois

Sampling of dog toys that were introduced to 3- and 4-week-old piglets in a study measuring object recognition behavior in two ways, each of which reflects activity in a different part of the brain.

Females and 4-week-old piglets of both sexes were a little better than males and 3-week-olds at remembering the first object, even after a two-day delay. But, for the most part, all the piglets made a beeline for the new toy.

The study wasn’t really about proving that piglets are capable of learning and remembering – that’s already well known. “You could ask any farmer how smart pigs are and they’ll tell you they’re smarter than dogs. That piece isn’t new,” says Stephen Fleming, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Animal Sciences and the neuroscience program at U of I.

The study wasn’t about designing a new way of testing animal behavior, either; the same test has been used in rodents. The real utility of the study was the fact that the test worked for pigs. Pig brains are remarkably similar to human brains, so they are often used as model systems by neuroscientists.

“With humans, when we want to know if something’s affecting how they learn or behave, we can ask them a question; with animals, we can’t. Historically, researchers have had animals complete a maze or press a lever every time a light comes on. But if you try to translate that to people, it becomes difficult. We don’t usually put people through mazes,” Fleming explains.

The study measured object recognition behavior in two ways, each of which reflects activity in a different part of the brain. Novel object recognition, already described, is thought to be controlled by a brain region called the perirhinal cortex. Novel location recognition, or piglets’ ability to remember where a familiar object is located, is likely controlled by the hippocampus.

It turns out 3- and 4-week-old piglets, whose brain development is roughly equivalent to 3- to 4-month-old infants, have a bad spatial memory: when familiar toys were in a different spot, the piglets played with them as if they were new.

The test will be used primarily as the foundation for additional research. For example, scientists could use it to determine if there are any behavioral or neurological effects of dietary additives or nutritional deficiencies.

“We wanted to prove that piglets are able to remember objects and that the test is sensitive. Are we actually measuring memory or is it something else? Now that we’ve proven they can recognize that objects are new, we can go in with a nutrient and see how they perform,” Fleming says.

The article, “Young pigs exhibit differential exploratory behavior during novelty preference tasks in response to age, sex, and delay,” is published in Behavioural Brain Research. The study was co-authored by Fleming’s Ph.D. adviser, Ryan Dilger, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I. Support for the research was provided by Mead Johnson Nutrition and the American Egg Board.

Roller versus hammer: Corn particle size impacts digestibility

National Pork Board Feeder full of hog feed

By Jesus Acosta, Ph.D. student, and John Patience, Professor, Iowa State University; and Cassandra Jones and Stark Charles, Kansas State University Professors
The main goal of grinding ingredients (either with a hammer mill or a roller mill) is to maximize the value of the feed delivered to pigs. By reducing particle size, corn passing through the digestive tract of the pig will be more effectively exposed to digestive enzymes, and improves the quantity of nutrients that pigs can extract from the grain.

Grinding also helps to ensure a more uniform feed mixture is put in front of pigs. As one could imagine, if the grains are not ground, ingredients with a smaller particle size (amino acids, vitamins and minerals, or medicated feed additives) would separate out from the grains. Thus, pigs could sort through the feed, eating some parts and not others, and end up consuming a diet that is not meeting their nutrient requirements. It could also mean that the feed delivered to some pens in the barn would be different than the feed delivered to other pens. Therefore, it is clear that grinding is a very important part of preparing feed for pigs.

Roller mills are the most common mill used in the U.S. Corn Belt. They are more energy efficient and generally result in a more uniform particle size than hammer mills. However, hammer mills are still in use, and preferred when the feed will be pelleted or a need for greater flexibility in particle size. Because both are found across the industry and result in different particle shapes, the question arises if the two mill types lead to different nutrient digestibility when it comes to grinding corn for pigs. A related question is if a feed mill is currently using a hammer mill or a roller mill, how important is particle size? And what particle size should be selected?

Iowa State University

Figure 1: Impact of grinding method and mean particle size (P < 0.001) on apparent total tract digestibility of dry matter. a,b,c,d: treatments with different letters are different, P< 0.05

Therefore, we conducted an experiment to determine the impact of reducing the particle size from 700 to 500 or 300 microns on digestibility of corn, and compared the outcomes when a hammer mill or a roller mill was used. The corn was ground at the Kansas State University O.H. Kruse feed mill and then transported to Iowa State University to measure digestibility in pigs.

Our results clearly show that mill type influenced nutrient utilization in different particle sizes. When a roller mill was used to reduce corn particle size, digestibility was improved to 300 microns. However, corn ground with a hammer mill had similar digestibilities across the three particle sizes tested. The response in the roller mill was fully expected, but the results with the hammer mill definitely were not.

In fact, corn ground to 700 microns with a hammer mill was better digested than corn ground with a roller mill. Corn ground to 500 microns with a hammer mill was similarly digested as corn ground with a roller mill. Finally, corn ground to 300 microns with a hammer mill was less well digested than corn ground to 300 microns in a roller mill. Stated another way, corn digestibility was maximized when corn was ground to 300 microns with a roller mill.

Iowa State University

Figure 2: Effect of grinding method and mean particle size (P < 0.001) on apparent total tract digestibility of energy. a,b,c,d: treatments with different letters are different, P< 0.05

There are some practical issues concerning these results. First, reducing particle size from 700 to 500 microns in the roller mill improved the effective ME of corn from 1,355 kilocalories per pound to 1,410 kilocalories per pound. This improvement is the same as removing approximately 25 pounds of fat per ton of mixed feed, assuming that corn makes up 50% of the diet. Further reducing particle size from 500 to 300 microns in the roller mill improved the effective ME of corn from 1,410 to 1,438 kilocalories per pound. This is the same as removing 13 pounds of fat per ton of mixed feed. Conversely, if corn is ground to 700 microns instead of 500 microns, one would have to add 25 pounds of fat per ton of feed to maintain the same dietary energy content and thus the same performance.

Iowa State University

Figure 3: Impact of grinding method and mean particle size (P < 0.001) on apparent total tract digestibility of nitrogen. a,b,c,d: treatments with different letters are different, P< 0.05

But there is another issue, and that is the handling of the corn. Few mills, feed bins and feeders were designed to manage diets with corn ground to 300 microns. To prevent bridging, corn ground this finely typically requires pelleting. Left in mash form, very finely ground corn will result in plugged feed bins and plugged feeders, resulting in reduced feed intake and more out-of-feed events leading to reduced, rather than improved, performance. Some producers are successfully handling 300 micron feed in mash form, but it certainly is not the norm.

Another concern is that small particle sizes, such as those below 500 microns, have a greater potential to increase the risk of ulcers in the pig, and this too can offset potential gains in digestibility.


Watching the parade of news stories from our regions marching across my screens ever day, I can't help but notice how many ATV crashes there are.

The Senate Agriculture Committee continues to hold hearings as they prepare to write the next farm bill. They've already held hearings in our region.

South Dakota may not be first state many would think of in terms of biotechnology. With state's leading agribusiness role and South Dakota's emerging role as health care center, ti will be in center of growing biotechnology industry.

Sheriff David Clarke gave up $46,000 hike in pay. He made almost quarter million in speaker's fees last year. Perhaps he passed up career with Trump administration to go on speaker's circuit?

Demonstrating a passion to end hunger

Compiled by Cheryl Day
Smithfield Foods and the Food Research & Action Center announce collaboration to address hunger in rural areas, Rally Against Rural Hunger. North Carolina is home to the second largest rural population in the country. This partnership builds upon Smithfield’s commitment to helping Americans become more food secure and supporting communities where its employees live and work. 

According to FRAC, 17% of all households in the state cannot afford to buy enough food. Rally Against Rural Hunger seeks to raise awareness of hunger, educate stakeholders about hunger and increase participation in federal nutrition programs nationally, in North Carolina and keenly in Scotland, Robeson, Duplin and Lenoir counties.

The Rally Against Rural Hunger initiative was launch this week at Smithfield's facility in Kinston, N.C. Attendees included North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Smithfield Foods’ President of the Hog Production Division Gregg Schmidt, FRAC’s Director of Special Projects Alexandra Ashbrook and Associate Superintendent of Lenoir Country Public Schools Frances Herring.


Summer made its arrival at 11:24 p.m. central. By the way, Denver should be 99 today, the hottest June 21 on record there.

Wheat futures eased overnight after spring wheat futures hit highest level in 2.5 years. Spring wheat crop was rated 41% good to excellent in Crop Progress report out Monday. Spring wheat has more protein than any wheat.

While most states are tightening their restrictions on texting while driving, Colorado has softened its law. Texting while driving is now legal in Colorado. Before now, any texting was prohibited.

Chicago Tribune columnist has interesting take on how Illinois can dissolve its financial woes. He suggests the state be dissolved with parts going to neighboring states. He has posted map on his twitter feed.