National Hog Farmer is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Articles from 2014 In July

Evaluating Low-Fat DDGS for Swine Diets

Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are a co-product of the ethanol industry and have been an affordable source of energy and protein in swine diets for decades. In recent years, ethanol plants have begun to centrifuge the solubles from ethanol production to extract oil, which is sold to the biodiesel industry. As a result, new low-fat DDGS products are available for swine diets. Researchers at the University of Illinois are evaluating these products for use in swine diets.

“Dietary fat concentration has been shown to be a factor in the digestibility of nutrients,” said Hans Stein, a professor of animal sciences at U of I. “Because DDGS supplies a significant amount of protein in swine diets, we wanted to investigate if amino acid digestibility is compromised in diets containing low-fat DDGS.”

Stein's team compared amino acid digestibility in growing pigs fed diets containing conventional DDGS or one of two sources of low-fat DDGS. The conventional DDGS contained 11.5 percent fat, whereas the two low-fat DDGS sources contained 7.5 percent and 6.9 percent fat, respectively.

“We observed that the standardized ileal digestibility of almost all amino acids was greater in conventional DDGS than in either source of low-fat DDGS,” Stein said.

The team also investigated if adding fat to the low-fat DDGS diets improves amino acid digestibility. Corn oil was added to the low-fat DDGS diets with the intent to bring the concentration of fat in these diets to the same level as in the diet containing conventional DDGS.

“Adding dietary fat to diets containing low-fat DDGS didn't improve the digestibility of amino acids," Stein explained. “That result was somewhat surprising because it conflicted with previous data.” However, he noted that in previous experiments, the differences in fat levels between diets with or without added fat were much greater than in the current study.

Stein added that based on these observations, feed companies and swine producers using low-fat DDGS may have to formulate diets based on reduced values for the standardized ileal digestibility of amino acids compared with values for conventional DDGS.

The study, “Amino acid digestibility in low-fat distillers dried grains with solubles fed to growing pigs,” was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology. Co-authors are Shelby Curry and Diego Navarro, both master's students in the Stein Monogastric Nutrition Lab, as well as former lab members Ferdinando Almeida and Juliana Soares Almeida. The full text of the article is available online at

The Maschhoffs LLC Acquire Two Sow Farms from JBS United Inc.

The Maschhoffs LLC, headquartered in Carlyle, IL, announced this week that it has acquired two sow farms from affiliates of JBS United Inc. The two farms are located in Morristown and Crawfordsville, IN. The transaction includes two farms capable of housing up to 7,500 sows. Approximately 30 individuals are employed at the two facilities.

“We are excited about this strategic transaction, which materialized due to our long-standing relationship and partnership with JBS United Inc. We look forward to integrating these farms and their employees into our operations,” says Jason Logsdon, chief executive officer for The Maschhoffs.

The Maschhoffs is the largest independent pork producer in the United States. The company is owned by fifth-generation family members Dave Maschhoff and his wife, Karen, and Ken Maschhoff and his wife, Julie. The Maschhoffs partners with more than 450 production partners across the Midwest. They work with the company to collectively produce enough pork to feed more than 16 million consumers annually.

PEDV a Warning Sign for Other Diseases to Come

Wisconsin State Veterinarian Paul McGraw said the impact the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has had on the swine industry should be a wake-up call as to how vulnerable the U.S. livestock industry is to disease coming here from other countries.

McGraw recently spoke to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Board, telling board members it was conclusive that PEDV was brought to the United States from China, and it became more obvious that the same thing could happen with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that has devastated agricultural industries in other parts of the world.

McGraw says, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, genetic coding confirmed the PEDV strain that has caused the death of 7 million baby pigs in the United States is the same strain as in China, the only place that strain had been found in the past. McGraw went on to say that Chief USDA Veterinarian John Clifford has concluded the virus was less likely to have been transmitted by feed and more likely by an individual.

Spread of the disease might have been minimized if a stop-movement order would have been placed on hogs after the first positive test was confirmed, McGraw says, but admits hindsight is always pretty clear. McGraw says the disease is believed to have killed about 10% of the nation’s swine herd since May 2013, when it was first reported.

McGraw said DATCP officials have participated in “Secure Milk Supply” emergency management exercises to discuss with industry, government and stakeholder organizations how milk would be moved in Wisconsin in the midst of a serious disease outbreak such as FMD. He says the challenge is to get people thinking in those terms ‑ if PEDV can come here from China, so can FMD or African Swine Fever.

DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel said there have been discussions that animal diseases could even be moved from one country to another in a person’s nasal passages, adding that the disease could be dormant in the person carrying it, but could be created when it hits the “right vector.”

McGraw also took the opportunity to suggest that Wisconsin farmers and agribusiness employers screen their immigrant workers for tuberculosis (TB) exposure after a confirmed case of reverse zoonosis of TB from a human to cattle in North Dakota. In the North Dakota case, an immigrant worker was sick and went to a public health facility for treatment. He was diagnosed with a strain of TB that could be transmitted from humans to cattle. Only about 1 percent of TB strains are the type that can be transmitted to livestock, McGraw says.

Two heifers on the farm where he worked were consequently diagnosed with bovis TB, McGraw says. He suggests the ag industry work with public health officials to develop a protocol to be prepared for such situations. 

Country-Of-Origin Labeling Injunction Denied

A preliminary injunction to block implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s May 2013 final rule on country-of-origin labeling had been denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A lawsuit had been filed in July 2013 by the American Meat Institute, National Pork Producers Council, American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association.

In the complaint, the organizations explained that the final rule violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest. They also explained that the 2013 regulation exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate, because the statute does not permit the kind of detailed and onerous labeling requirements the final rule puts in place, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, because it imposes vast burdens on the industry with little to no countervailing benefit.

Senators Seek More Answers to Antibiotic Questions

Senators Seek More Answers to Antibiotic Questions

Food Safety News reports that a group of senators wrote to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Monday to ask for more information regarding the agency’s efforts to curb what they see as the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production.

The senators claimed that Guidance 213 and the proposed rule on Veterinary Feed Directives (VFDs) are “important first steps” but said they “remain concerned that they may not be sufficient.”

They indicated that they did not believe veterinary oversight alone would curb what they viewed as problems related to a lack of strict definitions regarding how antibiotics can be used throughout an animal’s life.

Food Safety News reports:

“The senators asked FDA to respond to these specific questions by Sept. 8, 2014:

·         How do you intend to determine whether the non-judicious use of antibiotics in food animal production materially declines as a consequence of guidance documents #209 and #213, or simply continues under disease prevention or containment labels?

·         If no change in overall usage is observed, what steps will the FDA take to address the public health threat of antibiotic overuse in food animal production?

·         What actions does the FDA plan to take to make sure that approved labeling indications do not pose the same risks of fostering resistance as the production uses that are being voluntarily phased out in response to guidance documents #209 and #213?

·         What is your plan for completing inspections of facilities to ensure proper collection and enforcement of VFDs? What, if any, additional resources or authorities are needed?

·         How do you plan to collect and compile data from the VFDs to better track how specific antibiotics are being used in different types of animals?”


Read more at the Food Safety News website here. 

USDA Considers Easing Import Restrictions on Mexican Pork

USDA Considers Easing Import Restrictions on Mexican Pork

The public has 60 days to comment on a proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would relax import restrictions on importation of pork and pork products from Mexico. These restrictions were originally put in place to prevent pigs with swine fever from coming to this country.

The Hill reports USDA said Monday it is looking to establish new safeguards for Mexican farmers that raise and slaughter pigs, which are intended to limit the spread of swine fever among pigs. Farmers that follow these proposed rules would be allowed to export pork to the U.S.

The rule is outlined at the Federal Register website here. Comments can be made until Sept. 29, 2014.

According to The Hill:

“Swine fever is a highly contagious disease that is spread amongst pigs, which can die from it in as little as 15 days. The USDA has rules in place to prohibit or restrict the import of Mexican pork, which are intended to prevent the disease from spreading to pigs in the U.S.

But the USDA is considering exemptions for farmers in some Mexican states that follow the agency's new sanitary and biosecurity requirements.

"We would also provide safeguards against commingling of the swine and the pork and pork products with animals and products that do not meet our proposed requirements," the agency wrote. 

Furthermore, these Mexican farms would be subject to USDA inspections.

"This proposed rule would relieve some restrictions on the importation of pork and pork products from Mexico while continuing to protect against the introduction of classical swine fever into the United States," the agency wrote.”

Read more at The Hill website here.

USDA Reports Show the Good Times Lasting Longer

USDA Reports Show the Good Times Lasting Longer

This situation may last a while – in fact “a while” longer than even I had anticipated. Such is my conclusion after last week’s reports from the United States Department of Agriculture. It appears that – barring some unforeseen shock(s) – the good times we see now will be with us for longer than even I had anticipated. We all know it will not last forever, but ...

Last week’s Cold Storage report indicated further reductions of pork inventories. See Figure 1 for data for all species. Total pork in storage at the end of June totaled 537.7 million lb., 6.6% fewer than at that the end of May, and 4.8% less than one year earlier. The reduction was comprised primarily of hams (down 22% from 2013), other pork (down 17%) and unclassified pork (down 28%). Bellies’ stocks were nearly double last year’s level but remember than they were unusually low, driving belly prices to then-record highs. Rib and butt stocks were 6.8% and 27.2% higher than one year ago but those percentage increases amounted to a total of only 8.24 million lb. The decline in ham stocks was 35.5 million lb.

Perhaps more important were year-on-year reductions in beef and chicken inventories of 26% and 18%. This is our smallest month-end inventory of frozen chicken since mid-2004 and the smallest amount of beef in freezers since early 2005. Pork inventories are at their lowest level since late-2011.

With all of those long-term lows, one would think total stocks would be lower as well but that is not the case because June is well into the annual buildup of turkey inventories. Still, the June 30 stock of all meat and poultry in freezers was 1.949 billion lb., an amount smaller than what was in freezers in December. That is an unusual circumstance and the supply situations for beef, pork and chicken do not suggest any significant increases in the next few months.

The first piece of the demand puzzle for June indicates that it is still going strong. Retail beef and pork prices were again record high while both broiler and turkey prices gained fractionally from May. The average retail price of pork for June was $4.116/lb., up 13.8% from one year ago. The Choice beef price hit $5.938/lb., up 12.6% from June 2013 while prices for All-Fresh beef averaged $5.512/lb., 12.1% more than one year ago. The composite broiler price for June was $1.949/lb., up slightly from last month and 2.2% lower than one year ago. The June average turkey price was $1.606, also up slightly from last month but also 0.7% higher than one year ago.

And finally, Friday’s cattle supply reports were both bullish. The Cattle on Feed report was marginally so with the main bullish factor being June feedlot placements (1.455 million head, down 6.2% from last year) that were somewhat smaller than analysts had expected (the average pre-report estimate was down 3.8% from 2013). Those smaller placements left feedlot inventories short of year-ago levels once again and suggested tight cattle supplies once again in the coming winter.

Perhaps more bullish for the long term was the July Cattle (or Cattle Inventory) report that suggested a surprisingly small U.S. beef cow herd and almost shockingly-low beef heifer retention given the current and expected profitability of the cow-calf sector. No year-on-year comparisons were possible for these numbers since last July’s report was a victim of budget sequestration, but the comparisons to 2012 were nonetheless surprising.

The USDA pegged the beef cow herd on July 1 at 30.5 million head, 2.5% smaller than two years ago. Further, the USDA found that only 4.2 million heifers were being retained as replacements. That figure is 2.4% smaller than two years ago. The lower female inventories fit with the USDA’s estimated 2014 calf crop of 33.6 million head, 2% smaller than the July 2012 estimate of the 2012 crop. The 33.6 million would also be 1% smaller than the 2013 calf crop estimated in the January 2014 Cattle report. The USDA’s estimates imply that the supply of feeder cattle still outside of feedlots on July 1 was a record-low 34.569 million head, 3.1% lower than two years ago. A 33.6 million head calf crop will help that feeder supply number next year but will not likely get it anywhere near year-earlier levels, implying continued tight beef supplies through 2016 and into 2017.

Sorting Out Joint Disease and Lameness

Production losses due to lameness and joint disease are likely underestimated because losses often occur with such a low (but steady) rate to be taken for granted as “normal” or “acceptable”. Yet, these under-performing animals have delayed time to market, are a welfare issue and result in culls or mortality that can routinely approach 1% to 5% of total population.

It seems that only when the number of pigs that can’t walk or need to be culled reaches some ill-defined “tipping point” is some action taken. Figure 1 demonstrates an upward trend in the number of arthritis/lameness cases submitted to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISUVDL) . Lameness usually presents in one of two scenarios.

  • A “smoldering,” “endemic,” “low-grade,” “rolling,” “insidious” or “routine” occurrence of lameness/arthritis in individual pigs. The mechanism often is that pigs experience trauma and/or bacterial infection -- lameness -- cannot compete -- compromised growth and vigor  -- additional trauma and bacterial infections -- culled or require euthanasia. Examination of these pigs is often unrewarding because of the chronic and cumulative nature of insults, risk factors or infectious agents that are continuously present in swine populations.
  • A group of animals suffer nearly simultaneous insult seen as an acute “epidemic” or “outbreak” of lameness. A large percentage of pigs develop a rather consistent clinical appearance of lameness. Depending on age and clinical presentation, there are a variety of “primary” insults which are capable of affecting many animals in a “non-routine” sort of way. Causes can be infectious (e.g. Mycoplasma spp., Erysipelothrix, Haemophilus among others) or noninfectious (e.g. nutritional, trauma, toxins).

What the Laboratory Finds

Mycoplasma and bacterial infections account for most of the arthritis diagnosed at ISUVDL. Viruses do not cause arthritis but can compromise health and predispose pigs to bacterial arthritis. Mycoplasma infections are often primary causes of arthritis, meaning they do not need obvious predisposing factors to cause disease. Mycoplasma hyorhinis tends to affect pigs 3 to 12 weeks of age whereas Mycoplasma hyosynoviae tends to affect pigs greater than 12 weeks, with increasing frequency as pigs get older (Figure 2).

Some bacterial infections can be primary (e.g. Haemophilus parasuis, Streptococcus suis, Actinobacillus suis, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae) and can cause acute joint infections. These and other agents (Trueperellla pyogenes, Streptococcus spp. Staphylococcus spp.) can also be secondary to other insults such as trauma, skin abrasions or other diseases (e.g. porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, swine influenza virus, porcine circovirus associated disease) that compromise health and vigor. Often the lesions of arthritis are chronic in the cases presented to the diagnostic laboratory, therefore a specific cause remains “undetermined” but most of these are a sequel to a previous bacterial infection (Figure 3).

Primary bacterial agents are more common in farrowing and nursery phase whereas secondary or “undetermined” bacterial causes tend to represent cumulative chronic insults that occur throughout the growing period. Of course, “primary” bacterial agents often have risk factors in management, particularly in early life where management changes can usually alleviate occurrence of joint infections.

Nutritional Contribution

Sorting out respective contributions of nutritional, traumatic and infectious contributors to arthritis and lameness can be difficult. The frequency of diagnosis of primary nutritional diseases such as rickets or acute hypocalcemia has increased in recent years, particularly from 2010-13. Osteochondrosis, while not definitively a nutritional disease, is included in the category of “nutritional” in represented in Figure 4. Mycoplasma hyosynoviae cases are displayed in the same figure to illustrate the similar age distribution and confusion that may emerge in getting an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis: Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis ‑ Look at the Pigs!

Assessing the animal in their environment is the single most important activity to define the root cause of the problem. The ability to spot affected animals early and to then “characterize or classify” the type and extent of lameness is critical to accurate diagnosis. It is important to note age, weight, history of movement or commingling, how many pigs are affected, how many and which legs are affected, and lesion location(s) on legs. Tissue swelling over the joint (a “callus” or “hygroma”) is often mistaken for a swollen joint. This swelling suggests that the animal may be lying down for longer periods, but it is not the cause of the lameness.

Be systematic and thorough in observations ‑ count and record number of animals, which legs, and lesion location to identify the predominant presentation. Finding one pig with a large abscess or an obvious broken leg usually does not accurately represent what is happening in the population.

Sampling Checklist for Submission for Laboratory Diagnosis

  • Are you sampling pigs that accurately represent the problem (not a junk pig)?
  • Are pigs sampled not medicated? Medication decreases ability to get a diagnosis.
  • Are sampled pigs in acute stages of disease?
  • Did you identify which limb or limbs are affected? Those are the ones to sample.
  • Do you have cleaned instruments and sample materials for collection?
  • Samples:

o Serum plus intact joints or joint fluids, joint swabs and synovium in formalin.

o Urine, feed and bone (second rib) should be collected routinely in the event nutritional contribution becomes a possibility.

TPA Before TPP

The Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee have sent a message to the administration that it needs to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and not complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement before the TPA is enacted into law.

In a letter to United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, the members said, “Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA is enacted.” Some are suggesting that Congress should consider TPA during the lame-duck session after the election.

Senators Request Study of Possible Anti-Competitive Behavior by Big Oil

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to further study possible anti-competitive practices by certain oil companies. The senators in a letter to the DOJ and FTC referenced a study by the Renewable Fuels Association that found some oil companies blocking the sale of renewable fuels.

According to the study, unbranded or independent stations are “roughly four to six times more likely to offer E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15 than stations carrying a “Big Five” oil brand.” The senators are asking the DOJ and the FTC to review the report, investigate the claims and findings included in it, and let the senators know the conclusion of possible anti-competitive behavior and any proposed solution or actions that the DOJ and the FTC would take to resolve the issue.