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Articles from 2001 In July

Bt Protein Undetectable In Meat

Research conducted at Purdue University shows that genetically modified proteins cannot be detected in meat from hogs fed Bt corn. In addition, growth performance and carcass characteristics are similar between hogs fed Bt and non-Bt corn.

One hundred eighty pigs (Dekalb 45 by EB) were weaned at 12 to 16 days and housed in a SEW nursery for five weeks. At 66 lb. and 62 days of age, they were moved to a curtain-sided grow-finish barn and allowed to acclimate for 10 days.

The pigs were blocked by weight and sex and housed six pigs/pen. All had ad lib access to a one-hole, self feeder and nipple waterer.

Three diets were fed, including the isogenic control, non-GMO parent corn hybrid; the transgenic Bt corn hybrid; or commingled non-transgenic corn of different varieties.

All diets were formulated to meet or exceed requirements of the NRC. Four phases were set, with changes after four weeks on phases 1 and 2 and two weeks for phase 3. Phase 4 was fed from week 11 to market.

Weights and feed intake were measured every two weeks to monitor average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), and feed efficiency (F:G). The hogs were marketed at 266 lb.

Carcass measurements included hot carcass weight, carcass length, backfat at last rib and last lumbar vertebrae, 10th rib backfat and loin eye area. Color, marbling and firmness were also tested.


Corn type did not affect ADG, ADFI or F:G in any of the phases.

Pigs fed the conventional commingled corn had heavier carcasses and higher dressing percentages. Corn had no effect on calculated percent lean. Pigs fed the isogenic control corn had greater backfat depths at the 10th and last rib and the P2 location.

Corn treatment also affected subjective marbling scores, with pigs fed commingled corn having lower marbling than the Bt or isogenic control corn.

To test if the Bt (Cry1aB or Shrunken-2 genes) protein was present in the meat, DNA was extracted from 12 loins of the Bt-fed pigs and 12 loins from the isogenic control pigs. Southern blot analysis of PCR was used and none of the DNA samples were positive for the Bt genes.

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Researchers: Tom Weber, Brian Richert, Purdue University. Contact Weber at (765) 496-6840 or email

Tylan Doesn't Interfere with Immunity

Feeding nursery pigs a standard regimen of Tylan Premix for the prevention and control of ileitis did not impact their immune development.

In a trial overseen by well-known ileitis researcher and Minnesota veterinarian Nathan Winkelman for Elanco Animal Health, a group of 120, 20-lb. pigs were divided into four treatment groups in two nursery facilities.

Two groups were challenged twice with Lawsonia intracellularis, the bacterium that causes ileitis. Despite the two challenges, pigs fed Tylan at 100 grams/ton for 21 days experienced no impact to their immune systems.

According to Elanco veterinarian David Bane, there were no significant differences in immune levels between treated and non-treated pigs.

There were differences in performance, however. Pigs receiving Tylan at 100 grams/ton for 21 days grew up to 17.3% faster than challenged, non-treated pigs. Treated pigs ended up weighing 10.5 lb. more and achieved a 38.5% better clinical impression score for diarrhea than the non-treated pigs.

Questions have been raised about the role of antibiotics in precluding the pig’s ability to develop immunity. "Tylan used at 100 grams/ton for 21 days did not influence immune development as measured by circulating antibody," says Bane.

Tom Marsteller, Elanco veterinarian, says producers and veterinarians may also need to rethink the role of the immune system when it comes to ileitis. "Without a strategic prevention protocol in place, pigs can develop ileitis several times throughout their lifespan because the duration of protective immunity is short with this disease. Producers may pay a heavy price in performance and pig variation for the development of immunity without adequate protection," he says.

Sodium Chlorate Kills Salmonella

Feeding low doses of sodium chlorate to pigs and cows before slaughter selectively kills the pathogens Salmonella typhimurium and E. coli 0157:H7.

Scientists in USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, TX, developed an animal model showing that sodium chlorate reduces the major concentration of these two pathogens in the animal intestinal tract.

Within 16 hours of being given sodium chlorate, 45 weaned pigs artificially infected with S. typhimurium showed a 150-fold reduction in infected intestinal cells.

An enzyme found in both of the bacteria converts sodium chlorate to chlorite, which kills the harmful bacteria, say ARS scientists.

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Sorting Off Lightweight Pigs Does Not Improve Performance

Research conducted at five university farms shows that sorting off lightweight finishing pigs and relocating them to another pen does not improve grow/finish performance.

A total of 900 crossbred pigs were housed at research centers at the universities of Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State and Iowa State universities.

Twelve replicates were used to evaluate the effect of remixing the lightest 25% of pigs per pen.

Three treatments included 15 pigs/pen from 58 lb. to slaughter; 20 pigs/pen to 154 lb. and then 15/pigs/pen to slaughter; and the 15 pig/pen remixed pens, where five lightest pigs/pen were removed at 154 lb. and housed to slaughter.

Four typical meal-form, phase diets were fed. Lysine was standardized to the Nebraska. South Dakota Nutrition Guide levels.

Researchers found no difference in average daily gain, average daily feed intake and feed to gain ratio in the grower stage.

There was no significant effect on ADG, ADFI and F:G between the sorted and unsorted pens, according to Nebraska swine specialist Mike Brumm, who reported the findings at the Midwest Animal Science meetings.

"Pulling the light pigs and putting them with similar pigs doesn’t improve the days to emptying the barn and overall pig performance," Brumm concludes. "It is not worth the effort to leave pens empty to put light pigs into as they grow."

The researchers are now experimenting with pulling the five heaviest pigs from pens and remixing them as a way to improve population performance.

Researchers: Mike Brumm, University of Nebraska; Mike Ellis, University of Illinois; Dale Rozeboom, Michigan State University; and Dean Zimmerman, Iowa State University. For more information, contact Brumm at (402) 584-2261 or e-mail

Kansas Researchers Agree – Sorting Finishers Doesn’t Improve Performance

Kansas State University researchers found similar results from their study of sorting to improve overall pig performance.

Two trials each used 192 PIC crossbred barrows and gilts weighing 75 lb. and 14 weeks of age to determine the effects of sorting on growth performance and weight variation.

The pigs were divided by sex and ancestry into one of four groups: heavy sorted (82 lb. ± 3 lb.); medium sorted (75 lb. -± 1.75 lb.); light sorted (66 lb. ± 4.4 lb.); and unsorted (74.36 lb. ± 7 lb.). There were 12 pigs/pen and eight pens/group.

Pigs were fed nutritionally adequate grain-sorghum-soybean meal-based diets in three phases.

Overall, ADG of the unsorted and heavy sorted pigs was similar, but greater than the medium or light sorted pigs. ADFI was unaffected by grouping. All groupings were different in final weight and ranked in the following order: heavy sorted (271.48 lb. ± 16.28 lb.); unsorted (263.78 lb. ± 19.14 lb); medium sorted (259.16 lb ± 16.72 lb.); and light sorted 249.04 lb. ± 20.46 lb.).

The final weight of the unsorted pigs was heavier than the average weight of all sorted pigs. Differences in body weight variation were not detectable by the end of the study.

The researchers conclude that the increase in pig weight from not sorting was due to the growth performance of the medium weight pigs in the unsorted pens. Those medium weight pigs grew faster than medium weight pigs penned uniformly by weight.

Therefore, sorting pigs by weight does not improve growth performance or reduce weight variation, and not sorting pigs may actually increase throughput (amount of pork produced) in a production system.

Researchers: P. R. O’Quinn, Steve Dritz, Robert Goodband, Mike Tokach, J.C. Swanson, Jim Nelssen and R.E. Musser. Contact Dritz at (785) 532-1231 or email

USDA Awards $5 Million for Ag Marketing Resource Center

The USDA has announced a $5 million multi-state grant to establish the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AMRC). The AMRC will be a collaboration of university and outreach specialists who research and interpret information on value-added agricultural activities.

"This state-of-the-art resource center will facilitate the use of technology to provide research, technical assistance and delivery of agricultural products to markets throughout the world," says USDA Secretary Ann Veneman.

The center will be aligned with four universities, including Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and the University of California.

Iowa State University Extension will provide administrative leadership. Kansas State and the University of California will conduct research/outreach and commodity specific content. Oklahoma State will focus on food processing and proprietary data analysis.

The center will offer knowledge-based resources including:

  • An electronic, web-based library to disseminate information and resources to producers and processors;
  • A web-based forum to encourage the exchange of information and development of strategic alliances and partnerships; and
  • Coordinated research and outreach support systems, including training and instructional materials for producers who wish to enter the value-added activities utilizing new telecommunications and computer technology.
  • For more information, visit

Wean-to-Finish Systems: Researchers Play Catch-Up

University of Illinois scientists map a three-year course of research designed to develop an economic model of wean-to-finish building systems.

Wean-to-finish (W-F) systems have been a building phenomenon. Popularity has mushroomed since their introduction to the Midwest in the early 1990s.

The boom is unique because it has been built on producer trial and error. A number of researchers agree that scant controlled research has been done to justify stocking and management protocols.

In the first year of a three-year program at the University of Illinois, animal scientist Mike Ellis and graduate student Bradley Wolter are working together to look for answers to W-F production dynamics.

“Our goal at the end of this whole venture is to create a decision-making model that takes into account all of the economic factors involved with W-F,” explains Wolter.

Evolving into Wean-to-Finish

There is plenty of research data on production parameters in conventional nurseries and growers, says Wolter. But that information is 20 years old. And so are many of the facilities.

In contrast, W-F barns are newer and the environment is so different, raising pigs in one place from early weaning to market, he says.

For example, research at the University of Illinois showed that large group sizes don't work well in conventional nurseries, observes Wolter. Performance is reduced 5-7%.

Illinois research evolved into looking at the impact of group sizes in W-F units. Groups of 25, 50 and 100 pigs/pen were tested from 17 days of age to 255 lb. average market weight. Floor space was 7.3 sq. ft./pig for all three groups. Feeder space and waterer allowance/pig were constant across all group sizes.

At the end of eight weeks, pigs in groups of 50 and 100 head were lighter and recorded 3% lower average daily gain and feed: gain conversion rates but similar average daily feed intake. This supports conventional nursery and European research results, says Wolter.

But from eight weeks to finish, the larger pig groups had similar growth performance.

For the overall study, pig performance was nearly identical for all group sizes, Wolter points out. (See Table 1.)

In all, growth performance from weaning to market weight was not affected by group size. Carcass value was unaffected by group size.

Wolter stops short of recommending that pigs be raised in large group, W-F barns. “I think it is a management decision based on a number of factors, particularly pig flow,” he says. “Unless you've got a substantial pig flow where you can fill a barn within a short period of time, if you feed to a pig mean weight, you could end up overfeeding the heavy pigs and underfeeding the lighter pigs.”

Table 1. Effect of Group Size on Pig Performance from Weaning to Market in a Wean-to-Finish System
Group Size
Pig Performance* 25 50 100
Avg. start wt., lb. 13.0 13.0 13.0
Avg. end wt., lb. 256.7 256.0 256.2
Daily gain, lb. 1.44 1.43 1.45
Daily feed intake, lb. 3.88 3.87 3.88
Feed: gain 2.70 2.70 2.70
Days on test 168 167 166
Carcass percent lean 53.4 53.7 53.8
* No significant (P > 0.05) differences were observed.

Wolter says he hears some employee concerns about being nibbled while working in large group pens of market-size hogs. Behavior was not studied, but increased aggression was not observed during the study, he adds.

Some preliminary data suggest as group size increases, there is more “free” space in a pen because pigs share space for movements and resting.


The next stocking density issue Wolter studied was double-stocking 17-day-old pigs for 10 weeks in pens of 104 head versus 52 head.

The research trial was carried out in United Feeds' 1,800-head, tunnel-ventilated, W-F barn. Some pens were left empty to break double groups out at the end of the 10-week double-stocking period.

Single-stocked pigs got 7.8 sq. ft./pig, the double-stocked group were allotted half that — 3.9 sq. ft./pig. At the end of the 10-week trial, the double-stocked group showed a significant reduction in performance, weighing 87 lb. versus 94 lb. for the single-stocked group, states Wolter. The crowded pigs had 8% lower average daily gain, but other parameters were similar (see Table 2).

From week 10 to slaughter (250 lb.), pigs that were previously double-stocked rebounded, gaining like the single-stocked pigs, but they were 4% more efficient. Double-stocked pigs took just two more days to slaughter than their single-stocked counterparts and had similar lean percentages, comments Wolter. (See Table 2.)

“We found that the pigs that were double-stocked did somewhat compensate when you look at their growth,” he says.

The double-stocking experiment was repeated recently at a southern Illinois W-F farm. Performance was compared for pens of 27 versus 54, 17-day-old weaned pigs for 10 weeks post-weaning.

Table 2. Effect of Stocking Rate on Pig Performance from Weaning to Market in a Wean-to-Finish System
Stocking Rate
Pig Performance Single Double
Weeks 1 to 10 Post-Weaning
(Double-Stocked Period)
Avg. weaning wt., lb. 13.0 13.0
Avg. 10-week wt., lb. * 94.0 87.6
Daily gain, lb. * 1.20 1.11
Daily feed intake, lb. * 1.75 1.73
Feed: gain 1.75 1.73
Week 11 Post-Weaning to Market
Avg. market wt., lb. 251.3 249.7
Daily gain, lb. 1.74 1.77
Daily feed intake, lb. 5.10 5.02
Feed: gain * 2.94 2.82
Days from weaning to market * 157 159
Mortality, % 1.5 1.8
Percent lean, % 54.3 54.6
* Significantly (P < 0.05) affected by stocking rate.

Despite the fact that this group differed from the one reported above (genetics, facility and management), the results were almost identical to those of the previous double-stocking trial, remarks Wolter.

At the southern Illinois farm, by the end of the 10-week trial period, there was about a 7-lb. (7%) difference in body weight in favor of the single-stocked group. That 7-lb. difference carried over to finishing, cutting the difference in performance to 3.5% in favor of the single-stocked pigs.

“Still, we have good confidence that there certainly is an economic advantage to double-stocking pigs,” he stresses, “because of the tremendous opportunity to increase your throughput and lower your total fixed costs of production.

“But it is a difficult decision because you have to think how you are going to manage those extra pigs after you revert to single-stocking,” he points out.

Eric Parr, research manager at the United Feeds research farm at Sheridan, IN, says double-stocking also presents biosecurity, stress and transportation issues associated with moving the extra pigs.

Feeder Space

In a third trial, feeder space was doubled to evaluate pig performance from weaning to eight weeks post-weaning for groups of 108 pigs/pen. Two, six-hole, wean-to-finish feeders were positioned in the center of each pen; the control pens only had one feeder that contained feed.

Through week 6, doubling feeder trough space had no affect on growth performance. From week 6 to 8, pigs on the doubled feeder space had about 10% higher average daily gain and were close to 2 lb. heavier than the control group pigs (69.74 lb. vs. 67.98 lb.) at the end of week 8, says Wolter.

Cooperative Research Efforts

The wean-to-finish project at the University of Illinois is a multidisciplinary project involving animal scientists Mike Ellis, Stan Curtis, Gilbert Hollis and Floyd McKeith; ag economist Gary Schnitkey, ag engineer Gary Riskowski, veterinarian Larry Firkins and Doug Webel, swine nutritionist from United Feeds.

The graduate students participating include Bradley Wolter, Brendan Corrigan and Jake DeDecker.

Producer collaborators on the research include Art Lehman, Brauer Pork, Maschhoff Pork, Oasis Farms and United Feeds.

Supporting the project is funding from the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research.

Transition-Separation Process Advances

National Pork Board members have spent several hectic months preparing to assume direct management of checkoff-funded programs.

The transition and separation process outlined in the settlement agreement between the USDA and pork producers last March is the driving force of the restructuring.

With an eye on the agreement's July 1 target date, they began by enlisting the help of RSM McGladrey, Des Moines, IA, an accounting/business management-consulting firm hired to provide third-party, independent oversight for the transition-separation process.

The McGladrey staff has completed a business and operations review and offered recommendations for an effective transition. A transition business plan was filed with USDA in early June. Approval was pending at press time.

In addition, a National Pork Board management triad was appointed to provide temporary leadership to manage day-to-day business activities and to answer employees' questions during the transition process. This threesome, operating under the business moniker “Office of the President,” includes Neil Dierks, senior vice president of programs for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC); Jim Meimann, senior vice president of administrative services for NPPC; and Mike Simpson, executive vice president for the National Pork Board.

Transition Plans Advance

The National Pork Board met in early June to solidify actions pertaining to the target date.

The transition plans signal a major shift in responsibility for the National Pork Board, from granting contracts to outside vendors for operation and management of checkoff-funded programs to direct management of all checkoff-funded programs. Therefore, NPPC staff whose primary job responsibilities were tied to checkoff-funded projects were invited to become a part of the National Pork Board staff responsible for administering and implementing programs. Eighty-four full-time NPPC employees were offered the opportunity to become National Pork Board employees; 79 accepted.

National Pork Board President John Kellogg estimates about 80% of the housekeeping details, including those involving accounting and human resources issues, were completed by June 30. The USDA agreement provides a grace period to work through all remaining details by year's end, which may include providing some services to NPPC “on a cost basis,” he says.

By July 1, all National Pork Board and NPPC communications will be handled separately, including publications, newsletters and respective Web sites: and

The transition team also is working through a rental agreement that will allow the National Pork Board staff to maintain their headquarters at the existing NPPC building in Des Moines. A tentative lease agreement was based on a third-party appraisal of the property and a comparison of competitive lease agreements for the area. Monthly rent is projected at about $30,000.

Who Owns the Slogan?

One of the unresolved issues that remains is who really has the rights to use “Pork — the Other White Meat?”

On one hand, the campaign was introduced by NPPC before the mandatory checkoff was initiated. The monies to develop the campaign were voluntary checkoff dollars provided by producers. On the other hand, many mandatory checkoff dollars were used to implement the highly recognized slogan and campaign.

Muddying the waters even further, NPPC allocated non-checkoff dollars to mount legal defense against other commodities that tried to capitalize on its popularity. Ownership of the campaign currently rests with NPPC.

“Both groups agree that this issue must be resolved for the benefit of pork producers,” Kellogg comments. “We're dedicated to it not being an divisive issue.”

CEO Search

National Pork Board Vice President Hugh Dorminy, chair of the CEO search committee, provided timeline goals to fill the organization's top vacancy.

The committee selected EFL Associates of Kansas City to conduct the initial search for candidates. The search firm will narrow the field to about 10 in July. Those finalists will be interviewed by the search firm and recommendations presented to the committee in early August.

The search committee plans to narrow the field to three candidates who will undergo in-person interviews. The goal is to identify the leading candidate and negotiate a contract by early September.

“We're not in a rush to fill the position,” says Dorminy. “We want an open and transparent process that can stand the light of day.”

Panel Narrows Nominations to 12

Feel like you missed the opportunity to meet friends, learn more about industry issues and look for new product innovations because World Pork Expo was cancelled?

We can't replace the sights, smells and sounds of the pork industry's biggest event, but we've had four experts review the new products that would have been displayed at Expo.

National Hog Farmer asked the registered exhibitors to nominate their new products for review. The panel then selected semi-finalists for review at our offices in Minneapolis.

Our panel includes Kaye Whitehead, a 600-sow, farrow-to-finish pork producer from Muncie, IN; Dean Koehler, swine nutritionist at Shakopee, MN; Kris Kohl, agricultural engineer for Iowa State University Extension Service at Storm Lake; and Arlin Karsten, DVM, director of swine education at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA.

Twenty-nine products were nominated. What follows is the panel's review of the 12 products they found most promising for the pork industry.

If you would like more information about any of these products, circle the appropriate number on the reply card after page 36 and return it to National Hog Farmer.

Ultrasound Machines Help Producers Manage Sow Herds

The panelists reviewed two lightweight real-time ultrasound machines, the Bantam from E.I. Medical and the Tringa 50S from PharVision.

The Bantam machine weighs 16 oz., features a belt mount and video glasses. The rechargeable battery runs up to 3½ hours and has a low-battery warning with 15 minutes of power remaining. The unit costs $7,500.

The Tringa 50S weighs 29 oz. and uses a viewing monitor strapped to the user's wrist. A 12-volt battery provides four hours of operating time. It costs $7,900.

The panelists agreed that sow herd management is changing to include the use of ultrasound machines.

“Herds with limited labor find it difficult to consistently do a good job of 21-day heat checking,” says Karsten. “They are leaning more on ultrasound to find open sows as soon as possible.”

The typical employee can find a pregnancy at 19 to 20 days with the Bantam, says Len Nighswonger, E.I. Medical. The unit has a “freeze” mode to isolate the image indicating if a sow is pregnant or not.

Producers can order the Bantam with video glasses only, an on-board monitor or both options. The scanner also has a video port to connect to any size external video monitor.

Karsten and Whitehead both noted that using a monitor instead of goggles helps in teaching situations.

“The goggles are kind of neat, but I'd like a screen because it's good for training — both the teacher and the student can look at the screen,” Karsten says.

Whitehead does the pregnancy checking on the family's 600-head sow farm. Pen gestation is used, so she needs a small unit and a monitor for safety.

“I like the fact that all of the equipment is right there. I prefer to see it on screen, especially if I'm showing someone else what I'm doing,” she says.

Steve DuMond, the president of PharVision, explains that workers with some experience can find a pregnancy at 19 to 20 days.

The Tringa 50S also has a “freeze” mode to isolate images. And, it features an infrared port to download information into a personal computer. The system also comes with an interactive CD to show clinical examples and to teach proper use of the machine, DuMond says.

E.I. Medical offers a video and an illustrated pregnancy guide called “Swine Prints” for training. The Bantam has on-board image capacity, and a Universal Serial Port (USB) port to download to a PC.

Koehler wonders if either machine could be used to scan for backfat and other carcass characteristics.

A separate, linear transducer for the Bantam would allow producers to measure backfat and loin depth. The transducer would cost from $2,800 to $3,000.

“The machine will run either transducer; many of our ‘Real McCoy’ users have included other transducers,” Nighswonger says.

The Tringa can scan backfat measurements, but the company does not have other probes available to measure other carcass traits, DuMond says.

“Both of these are very good tools to increase the productivity of a sow herd, but they must be used with good management,” Karsten says.

Whitehead stresses that a sow unit and its personnel must be ready for a transition to this type of ultrasound machine.

“At the point where an operation has the time and personnel to use these machines, then they can improve the operation,” she says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101 for Bantam; Circle Reply Card No. 102 for the Tringa 50S)

Feeder Flips for Easy Cleaning

Farmweld presented its Flip-to-Clean system for its Challenger nursery feeders.

The system, available on any size of Farmweld feeder, holds the feeder between two brackets in the fenceline. To clean the feeder, workers pivot it on the brackets for easier power washing.

The feeder is held in the cleaning position by short lengths of chain and metal O-rings, which hook onto posts in the fenceline.

When used with Farmweld feeders and gating, the option adds $20-$25 to the cost of each feeder, says Mike Bushue, Farmweld representative.

Bushue explains the process for flipping the feeder includes lifting slightly and pulling out on the feed trough, flipping the feeder over and then hooking up the O-rings to the posts.

“The concept of an easier-to-clean feeder is great. I'm intrigued,” Whitehead says.

Koehler and Whitehead ask if pigs would be able to move the feeder if it was empty and get into the adjoining pen, as this would prevent producers from allowing the feeder to run empty when closing out a barn.

The weight of the feeder holds it secure in the feeding position, Bushue explains. “The pivot is like a feeder bracket, and the whole weight of the feeder is sitting on the floor.”

Kohl and Karsten both stress that feeder adjustment handles are easily damaged in efforts to remove feeders from the fenceline for cleaning.

“It's disgusting when you flip regular feeders to clean them and the adjustment handles get caught in the slats and get ruined and are no longer usable,” Karsten says.

“It's the little things like that that go wrong with feeders and make them obsolete. The flip-to-clean option should prevent handle damage during cleaning,” Kohl says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)

Neogen Offers Detectable Needle

Ideal Instruments, part of Neogen Corp., has introduced the D3 detectable needle.

Joe Corbett, director of animal safety sales and marketing for Neogen, explains the three benefits of the new line of livestock-specific needles. First, it has a thicker cannula to prevent breaking during injections.

“It is really difficult to break this cannula. Our workers have had to take a hack saw to it to cut the needle for testing,” he says.

Corbett notes that the company has released 500,000 needles to the industry and has not received any reports of breakage to the needle cannula.

Second, the metal hub is stronger than needles made with a polypropylene hub.

Third, the needle is made of a blend of metals. The unique alloy makes any portion of the needle fragment detectable by metal scanners at the packing plant. The alloy is still classified as stainless steel, Corbett says.

Corbett estimates the cost to the producer at 42¢-45¢/needle.

Karsten asks if the stronger cannula would injure an unrestrained pig.

“One of the reasons needles were made to bend is to prevent trauma to the animal,” he says. “If the animal moves, there could be tissue damage.”

Kohl stresses that producers may not see lost needles as a huge issue from their perspective. The consumer, on the other hand, is greatly impacted by the potential for a lost needle in their pork.

“A needle in the meat — that's an experience that will sour them on pork forever,” he says.

Karsten agrees. “Anything we can do to increase producer awareness that this is not an acceptable practice is important,” he says. “That may be one of the strongest points, that this needle increases producer awareness. This is one thing we can't tolerate.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)

Soy Product Acts Against Hog Odors

Barrier, from Agriliance, is a soybean-based product used to mitigate hog odors.

Mark Schoenfeld, product manager for Barrier, explains that the product is poured directly over the hog manure in deep pits. It spreads to form a thin barrier that holds in hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, thereby reducing odor.

Research conducted by Iowa State University found up to 75% reduction of hydrogen sulfide and up to 40% reduction in ammonia levels with the product. Research at North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota found similar results.

Agriliance recommends adding Barrier to pits monthly. The retail cost of the product is $10.25/gal.

Schoenfeld estimates that treatment of a typical 1,000-head finisher would require 15 gal./month and 180 gal./year.

A typical 2,000-head finisher would require 25 gal./month and 300 gal./year.

Therefore, the cost runs about $0.60/head on average, Schoenfeld says. The panel expresses concern about the cost.

“Sixty to 75 cents is a significant expense when you are raising pigs, but if you have an odor problem and it helps you solve it, it would be a cheap fix compared to some alternatives,” says Karsten.

“Each operation will have to decide if there are enough advantages,” says Whitehead. “If I were to use it, I'd start with the barn that had the most potential for improvement.”

Whitehead notes that the use of a soybean product in pork production is good public relations for both crops.

“I like the idea that it is a natural product. That goes a long way in public perception,” she says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)

Chew Toy to Reduce Tailbiting

Ikadan System USA is introducing the “Bite-Rite,” a chew toy to deter pigs from aggressive behavior, such as tailbiting.

Company representative Greg Swain explains that the product, developed at the Danish parent company, is a durable 7-in.-diameter plastic cone, with four, 8¼-in., soft plastic sticks. The unit comes with a plastic-coated cable for suspension from the ceiling.

Costs for the Bite-Rite include $17.50 for the original unit and $2.50/stick for replacement sticks. The company recommends hanging one Bite-Rite per 20- to 25-head pen. Suggested placement is the middle of the pen.

Swain explains that the shape and elastic material of the sticks were recommended by Danish research indicating the benefits of a chewable material.

“One of the critical things is that the pig can feel pliability of the product,” he says. “If they can't sink their teeth into it, they get disinterested quickly.”

Research has found that pigs lose interest in dirty toys. “That's why a tire, PVC pipes or bowling balls aren't effective as an ‘environmental enrichment,’” Swain says.

Koehler cites research by Temple Grandin, Colorado State University animal behaviorist, which found hanging material like rubber hose or cloth strips were the best pig toys.

“There is some evidence that the soft plastic that can be bitten into may be of benefit,” he says. “Grandin found that pigs prefer materials they can bite into, such as cloth strips, but the strips have poor durability.”

Kohl notes that the product offers another deterrent for pigs that have started tailbiting.

“One of the most frustrating things is to have a group of tailbiters and then have to figure out what to do with them,” he says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)

Boots Feature Elastic Tops

The product panel reviewed Agri-Pro Enterprises' 3-mm., disposable, extra-large, elastic-top boots.

The boots have elastic in the top, instead of strings, to prevent them from slipping off. They are extra large to accommodate extra large men's work boots. The boots are packaged in 50-count (25 pair) bags at a suggested retail price of $12.45.

Karsten has used the boots in his work.

“They are heavy-weight; they stay up. I've worn my big steel-toe work boots with them,” he says. “These would work good for visitor-type situations.”

Whitehead stresses the need for cost-effective, disposable boots and biosecurity on farms.

“These boots make sense and are priced right. This is practical. It is something that we can use in most farming operations, particularly as we are increasing biosecurity,” Whitehead says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 107)

Robot Automates Barn Washing

Swine Robotics has begun manufacturing an automated barn washer named “The Washhand.”

The unit will cost between $5,000 and $6,000, says Swine Robotics engineer Kerry Nilson.

The unit is made of stainless steel and PVC plastic, is mounted on four, 6½-inch wheels and is powered by two 12-volt, deep-cycle batteries. The hose reel can hold 200 ft. of ⅜-in., 3,000 or 5,000 psi high-pressure hose.

The arm is made of 1-in. square aluminum. The nozzle can be set to turn 360°, based on how the operator sets the machine to wash. The nozzle head height can be adjusted from 32 to 72 in. off the floor. The unit uses the barn's existing high pressure water system.

Wash time can be set from 10 to 100 min./pass of the barn or room. Nilson estimates 10 to 20 minutes to set up the washer for cleaning.

Panelists express interest in the product but note that the concept may be futuristic.

“The day will come when this type of machine will be used in a pig barn,” Koehler says.

“The concept is incredible, but the application would be a challenge. I cannot think of a harsher environment to operate electronic equipment in than a hog barn where spray washing is taking place,” he says.

Kohl says the idea shows promise, but human involvement is still required.

“The machine can't look and see if the barn is clean; it just hits the spot once and moves on,” he says.

Koehler counters, “Power washing is the absolute last job that people want to do. If you could run a machine down every finishing barn and then have someone come in for an hour to do the touch up washing, you would sell it.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 108)

Valve Provides Constant Water Level

Century Marketing/Rotenca introduces the VH-R Water Valve for use in sow gestation and lactation crates.

The valve is made of plastic, stainless steel and rubber and is plumbed into the water line above each farrowing crate or at the end of a run of gestation crates. The valve has a membrane that closes when the down pipe is pressurized by the water level in the trough or bowl.

When a sow drinks, the water level drops, so the membrane opens and allows more water to flow down.

Tom Barragy, sales manager for Century Marketing/Rotenca, explains the cost of $27.50 could be applied to a single farrowing crate or a run of gestation crates.

The company suggests plumbing a U-shape into the water line, so the valve is closer to eye level, Barragy says. A lever on the valve allows the water to be turned off and on.

The valve can operate with water pressure from 7.76 to 50.79 psi and a water flow from 0.06 to 2.77 gal./min.

The panelists stress the importance of keeping sows well watered and therefore well-fed.

“Sows would consume a lot more water, and thereby more feed, if they had a flat surface of water to drink off of,” Koehler says. “That would enhance feed intake immensely.”

Karsten points out that his students spend a lot of time turning the water on and off in the gestation barns' troughs.

“It would be best to always have an inch of water in that trough,” he says.

Barragy concurs, “We see a big need, especially in the farrowing units, to keep water in front of the sow.”

The panel asks if feed would clog the unit if the valve was plumbed directly into the feed/water trough.

Barragy notes the waterer doesn't clog because of the water's down force.

Karsten sees one challenge for producers to design around. If they plumb the valve into the feed trough of a farrowing crate, dumping old, stale feed before it molds would be difficult if the valve is in the way.

Barragy estimates the life expectancy at 10 to 15 years, depending on water quality.
(Circle Reply Card No. 109)

Raytec Automates Pig Sorting

The panelists review the Raytec Manufacturing WayPig Auto Sort, a scale system that automatically sorts hogs.

Al Kunkle, sales manager for Raytec, explains that the scale is set up while pigs are growing in a large finishing pen.

“We recommend that producers set it up so the pigs walk through it on a regular basis,” he explains. “On the day the producer is going to load hogs, he can change the gating to accommodate loading and weighing.”

The module on top of the scale is set to sort at any weight. The hogs at or above the weight are sorted to one side to be marketed. The lighter hogs are sorted back into the barn.

When hogs enter the scale the back gate closes immediately so only one pig can be on the scale at a time. After the pig is weighed, the front gate pivots left or right to sort the hog into the appropriate group.

The unit is made of stainless steel and is powder coated for durability. The weighing module is encased in hard plastic and is waterproof. Compressed air powers the scale gates. The scale is powered by electricity, with a battery back-up and costs $4,800.

Kohl questions if producers can eliminate sort loss completely.

“Producers can sort better to reduce the sort loss, but they can't get it down to zero,” he says. “How much you should pay to get rid of sort loss depends on the producer's situation.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 110)

Insemination Catheter Streamlines AI

Continental Plastic Corp. offers the Patriot Catheter for review by the panelists.

The catheter allows the breeding technician to deposit semen directly into the sow's uterus, thus reducing the time required to inseminate and possibly lowering the amount of semen needed/insemination.

Continental Plastic's Rob Christine explains the steps to using the catheter. The first step is heat checking with a boar. The boar is taken away and insemination is done without boar exposure. Christine stresses that the sow should not be in the standing reflex. Allowing 15 minutes between boar exposure and insemination allows the sow to relax from the standing reflex.

“If she is in the standing response and clamping down on the catheter, it is very hard to transverse the cervix with the inner shaft,” he explains.

The outer catheter is inserted first and then the inner catheter is used to transverse the cervical canal and deposit the semen. The boar is then brought back to stimulate the sow and facilitate semen transport to the site of fertilization.

The cost/catheter is $0.95. “It will get much more economical as volume increases,” Christine says.

Christine notes that a 7,000-sow farm has reduced to a 45-ml., two billion sperm dose of semen, down from a 4 billion dose. The farm has seen a 3% increase in farrowing rate and 0.4 more pigs born live/litter.

However, he notes, the company does not recommend any specific semen dose level.

Whitehead notes that breeding personnel would need to change their mode of thinking. “You don't want the sow to show signs of standing heat,” she says. “It's going to be difficult to switch to that; it's not what we are used to with AI.”

Christine estimates that breeding technicians can learn the procedure after breeding 10 or 15 sows.

“We suggest people start out on cull sows and do two or three a week until they get comfortable, then slowly start in on the production sows,” he says.

Karsten points out that using a uterine or transcervical catheter has no economic advantage without lowering the amount of semen used to breed sows. “This is a really controversial subject right now,” he says. “The product works well, but I'm not sure we have the other technology to go with it. My main concern is identifying top-performing boars to use in low-dose AI situations.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 111)

Trojan Introduces Plastic Waterswing

Trojan Livestock Equipment Co. is now offering the Blue Trojan Waterswing.

Pat Beck, Beck Sales Co., is the president and CEO of Trojan Livestock Equipment. He explains that the blue waterswing is made from polypropylene plastic injected into molds. The same material and process are used to make ice hockey sticks.

The price of the unit is approximately $19. Adding two Trojan nipple waterers would cost approximately $3.50 for each for a total cost of $26.

The waterswing has a stainless steel grommet for the chain hanger, wrench flats for removing or changing nipples and the patented “play guard” to reduce water waste. The nipple threads are molded into the plastic. The waterer has a 30° angle for a natural drinking approach, Beck says.

Kohl stresses that the key to waterswings is proper adjustment to accommodate pigs as they grow.

“If a producer has swinging nipples in a facility and needs to replace them, this would be a good product,” says Karsten.

The rigid plastic would likely withstand the abuse from market hogs, Koehler says. “If the plastic stands up to a 120-mile per hour slap-shot, it should stand up to pigs.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 112)

News Updates

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) characterizes a Congressional amendment to end the pork checkoff as a political intrusion.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) offered an amendment in a House Agricultural Appropriations Committee meeting.

It states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by the Pork Act may be used to maintain, modify or implement any assessment against agricultural producers as part of a commodity promotion, research and consumer information order, known as a checkoff program, that has not been approved by the affected producers in accordance with the statutory requirements applicable to the order.”

According to NPPC, the checkoff program was approved by producers and is being operated in accordance with all statutory requirements.

The Kaptur amendment is part of the proposed 2002 House agricultural appropriations bill.

“For Congress to intervene in legislation pending before a federal court would be unfortunate,” observes Barb Determan, NPPC president and a producer from Early, IA. “The settlement agreement between USDA and NPPC is currently before the courts, and there should be a final decision later this year.”

The settlement agreement was reached Feb. 28. It set aside the Jan. 11 announcement by the secretary of agriculture that the pork checkoff would end.

More information on the settlement and checkoff-related activities can be found at and

Multiple Problems on Multiple Sites

In the community where I grew up, there was a memorable, elderly gentleman we all called “Uncle Milt.” He was always friendly, always smiling and always reciting some good, old-time segment of wisdom or orneriness.

Sometimes when we'd ask Uncle Milt what he was doing, he would say, “just sittin' waiting for an accident to come around and happen.”

If we look back at the start of multiple-site production, I believe it was a bit like Uncle Milt said, “waitin' for an accident to happen.”

Many industry leaders developed some remarkable concepts with multiple-site production. These new technologies revolutionized the industry.

Problems on the Horizon

Many years ago, during a veterinary panel discussion at the Indiana Pork Conference, when we were all very excited about segregated early weaning and multiple-site production, I issued a warning statement. I said we would likely see more acute disease outbreaks with this new “system.” And we did.

However, another factor that I did not predict also became involved — porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

Multiple-site production has been an excellent technology for improving pig flow, performance and chronic disease levels. But, it hasn't always eliminated disease, the need for immunizations and the use of antimicrobials as the following case study shows.

Case Study

A 600-sow, single-site, PRRS-negative herd had an extended “battle” with Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia serotype 1 (APP1).

In the spring of 1999, off-site nursery space at one location and some nursery and finisher space at another location became available and contract fees were negotiated.

A medicated early weaning protocol was developed. The herd had retained its own gilts in a maternal crossing program for many years so these gilts were exposed to APP during growth. In March 1999, all sows tested were highly positive to APP.

Weaning off-site began in May 1999. Pigs did well until a few died in the off-site unit and APP7 was isolated.

Since this wasn't the highly virulent serotype 1 (APP1), we weren't overly concerned. But this should have been our first clue.

Even though serology on Aug. 4 and Aug. 24 showed no evidence of APP1, by Sept. 20 we had clinical signs and isolation of APP1.

We eventually saw clinical signs in nursery pigs (4-5 weeks of age), and in November 1999 APP1 was isolated from a 12-day-old dead pig in the farrowing room. Although I believe this young pig's death from APP is a rare occurrence, it can wreak havoc on disease control in the contemporary groups of pigs.

Extensive medication and vaccinations were attempted in this herd over the next few months, without success. Some alterations were made in pig medication protocol. Pig flow was interrupted at off-site locations, and all sites have been free of clinical disease now since early 2001.

This case was selected to discuss multiple-site production problems because the unforgiving nature of APP lets you know very quickly if things aren't working.

Size Matters

We are reminded that with biology, we are “playing the odds.” With larger systems than this herd, the likelihood of having a “carrier” pig in each group of pigs will be even greater. The immune and shedder status of sow herds is critical to reducing disease in pig populations in multiple-site production.

New herds and those with high replacement rates (many in the industry) are at higher risk of disease breakdown. The sow herd just needs to be free of some diseases in order to have predictable health in the pigs. PRRS may be an example of this in multiple-site production systems sourced from multiple sow herds.

Tailor gilt acclimation and development programs to the system and to the disease levels in the system. Medication and vaccination programs must be based on disease levels and risk assessment.

Biosecurity Critical

Multiple site production presents more biosecurity concerns due to the multiple locations. However, as long as a good biosecurity program is in place, multiple locations should reduce the risk and economic consequences of lateral introduction of disease.

Multiple-site production is an integral part of today's pork chain. It's up to the veterinarians to design health programs that maximize production for specific multiple-site situations.

The goal must be to reduce the odds of the accident Uncle Milt was waiting to come along and happen.