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Articles from 2005 In August

Cooler Nights Translate into Savings

Engineers at the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada have found an easy way to keep hogs cooler without adding to production costs.

Cooler pigs grow 5% faster, which decreases marketing time by 3-5 days and improves net profit by 75¢/pig sold, estimates Stephane Lemay, research engineer.

On warm days, temperatures rise outside the barn. For a while, the barn stays cool. But eventually the attic temperature rises and the outside heated air is brought into the room.

“During the warm months of spring and summer, we typically see room temperatures rise above outside temperatures,” notes Lemay. “It is expected to find room temperatures three degrees above outside temperatures, and with some barn designs, temperatures can rise even further.”

Heat stress strikes when temperature, humidity and ventilation rates combine to produce temperatures above the animals' comfort zone. This depresses appetite, reduces gains and delays marketing.

The level of severity is weight-related, he says. Younger pigs tolerate higher temperatures better.

Table 1 illustrates temperatures set for various categories of pigs. Lemay says for each one-degree rise in temperature above the pig's comfort zone, feed intake will decline by 1-2% and growth rate by 3%.

For every degree in temperature above the pig's comfort or thermoneutral zone, net income is reduced by 30 cents to 45¢ /pig.

Setting the ventilation controller six degrees below the recommended temperature creates a cool nighttime environment.

“The pigs become more active in the cool evening as we would expect,” says Lemay. “Their first inclination is to go and eat.

“This cooling period effectively reduced the overall impact of high temperatures on the pig performance each day and reduced the nighttime temperatures by about two degrees below the control rooms.”

Researcher: Stephane Lemay may be reached at (418) 286-3551 or

Study Boosts Biofilter Efficiency

Biofilters drastically cut hog odors from confinement units. But University of Illinois (U of I) research suggests the effectiveness of biofilters can be improved by the choice of materials used and by maintaining an appropriate moisture level in the filter.

A biofilter is a bed of wood chips or other organic material attached to a confinement building's ventilation system or manure storage area with air ducts. Exhaust fans force air from the building or manure storage area through organic material. Bacteria and fungi growth remove odorous agents by using them for food. To work properly, the organic material must remain moist or the organisms will die off.

In U of I Ted Funk's research, two biofilters were tested to reduce odors from an in-ground manure tank on a western Illinois farm. One filter used a debarking product (tree bark and dirt) and the other used wood chips and hay.

Air samples from each biofilter were collected and sent to Iowa State University. An olfactory team of eight trained “sniffers” rated the overall odor strength of each sample.

“The debarking product worked better than the wood chips and hay to reduce ammonia,” reports Funk. “However, both media were pretty effective in odor reduction.

“The established method to monitor moisture content in the filter is to reach your hand in, grab a sample and see if it feels all right,” explains Funk. “It's kind of hard to get farmers excited about doing that.”

So Funk developed an automatic system to control moisture content.

“We wanted to produce a moisture-sensing technique that would give a readout of the moisture percentage in the filter,” he says, “and also trigger an electronic control to turn water on and re-wet the filter when it needs it.”

He built a three-grid capacitor that is buried in the biofilter medium. “When the moisture reading goes down to a certain level, the control circuit triggers a switch to turn the water on. The reading goes back up and the process repeats itself, irrigating the biofilter as needed.”

Now Funk is working to make the invention cost-effective for the average producer.

Researcher: Ted Funk, University of Illinois. Phone Funk at (217) 333-9313 or e-mail

Table 1. Setpoint Temperatures (°F) for Swine During the Cooling Season
Room and Body Mass, lb. Solid Floor Slotted Floor Solid Floor with Straw
Dry Sows 66 70 64
Nursing Sow 64 68 63
Weanling 15 lb. 81 84 79
44 lb. 75 79 72
Grower-finisher (continuous)
55-132 lb. 66 70 64
132-220 lb. 61 63 59
55-220 lb. 66 70 64
(All-in all-out)
55 lb. 72 75 72
99 lb. 63 64 61
198 lb. 61 63 59
Source: Swine Building Ventilation - A Guide for Confinement Swine Housing in Cold Climates, Prairie Swine Centre Inc., 1994

product news

Daily Weigh Software

Inventory tracking, water consumption and temperature profiles are added features of Osborne Industries' Daily Weigh software for the Weight Watcher Growth Management System. The Weight Watcher System (WWS) manages the growth of up to 600 head of pigs in large groups by daily weighing and separating pigs as they move from a water pen to feed pens. The WWS has been tested, using time-lapse video capture and radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags. With the use of these two methods, company research has shown the close linkage between daily temperature changes and feed intake. Because temperature affects water intake, the WWS software now includes a water-tracking feature, which automates the water charting procedure.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101)

Three-Way Oral Vaccine

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., has received approval for simultaneous use of Enterisol Ileitis FF (frozen form of ileitis), Enterisol SC-54 FF (frozen form of Salmonella cholerasuis) and Ingelvac ERY-ALC (Erysipelas rhusiopathiae) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new claim allows pork producers to administer the three oral vaccines simultaneously while maintaining the efficacy of each vaccine, saving management time and labor expenses. The use of simultaneous vaccination also allows veterinarians and producers the option to utilize a single medication-free window for oral vaccine administration. When the vaccines were administered simultaneously to 3-week-old weaned pigs, there was no interference with immunization and no negative effect on pre-challenge weight gain.
(Circle Reply Card No. 102)

Semen Meter

Schippers Europe BV introduces the MS Semen Meter. The meter provides a digital readout of the concentration of semen, expressed in hundreds of million sperm cells/ml. Using a simple calculation, producers can determine the number of doses produced from a single ejaculation, assuming 3-4 billion sperm cells/dose. It also allows producers to measure the concentration of the fresh, non-diluted semen without having to dilute the sample first, thus saving time.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)

Bait Station

Liphatech Inc. introduces the AEGIS-RP to its line of AEGIS brand bait stations. This versatile, durable station provides a highly effective means to control rodent populations, while protecting valuable livestock. The AEGIS-RP features a unique design with three distinct rodent needs: its see-through design means they can see the exit prior to entry; it provides convenient, stay-on-the-runway access; and inside, a simple feeding chamber requires less travel to bait. The station is available in non-locking and locking models.
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)

Wireless Auto-Sorter

The Pro-Sort from RTC Enterprises Inc. allows producers to monitor and configure multiple sorters and scale heads from a central computer. The system automatically collects animal information and provides tools for tracking animal movement and weight. The Pro-Sort features integration with Phason's OMNI-4000 production management system, wireless control from your PDA, two or three-way sorting ability, sort limits, photo electric proximity sensors, electronic load cell weighing and less than 2% error.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)

Single-Dose Antibiotic

A single-dose antibacterial that provides more effective treatment of complex swine respiratory disease (SRD) has been discovered and developed by Pfizer Animal Health. Clinical studies and field trials demonstrate the effectiveness of Draxxin against key bacterial pathogens that cause respiratory disease in finishing pigs. Draxxin is labeled for the treatment of SRD associated with Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Haemophilus parasuis. “Producers and veterinarians would like to replace multi-dose treatments with single-dose programs that improve cure rates and also reduce the costs, labor and animal stress associated with retreating pigs,” says Steve Sornsen, DVM, director, U.S. Swine and Poultry Veterinary Services, Pfizer Animal Health. Draxxin is a new molecule that provides fast-acting treatment and prolonged drug concentration in lung tissue. The new antibiotic is tulathromycin, the first of a new macrolide subclass called the triamilides. Draxxin is also the first antimicrobial to be approved under the Food and Drug Administration's new Guidance 152 review process. The safety review determines whether there is potential for transfer of antibiotic-resistant organisms to humans. Draxxin was found to be safe for use in swine and cattle, posing no significant risk to the efficacy of antimicrobials used to treat human diseases. The product, administered as a single intramuscular injection in the neck at a dosage of 1 ml/88 lb., has a five-day, preslaughter withdrawal.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)

Send product news submissions to Dale Miller, Editor(952) 851-4661;

Alex Hogg Honored

Alex Hogg, DVM, Ft. Calhoun, NE, is the first recipient of the Heritage Award from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) for lifetime achievements in swine veterinary medicine.

On July 15, Hogg was presented a life-sized, bronze sculpture of a 19-day-old gilt in Omaha, NE, donated by Danbred North America.

Hogg's career spans 50 years, and includes private practice in Iowa, Nebraska swine Extension veterinarian, University of Nebraska faculty and consultant for MVP Laboratories, Ralston, NE. He was AASV president in 1979.

Composting Turns Deads Into Valuable Fertilizer

Mortalities are a reality on any hog farm. There are many options for carcass disposal, but some raise environmental concerns.

Rendering is still the most common means of animal carcass disposal, says Bill Crawford, environmental manager for Preferred Capital Management of Fairmont, MN.

As the cost of rendering rises, producers look to other means of carcass disposal. Incineration is often still legal, but producers need to check with county regulators; cost can be an issue as well. Burial can be an option but also creates logistical problems as operations grow larger.

“Sow mortality is a big issue, and obviously the bigger units get, the more numbers (of deads) you are talking about,” says Crawford.

For Crawford, when feasible, the best method of carcass disposal is composting. “You take a problem and turn it into fertilizer,” he says.

If a composting facility is set up and operated correctly, it will function year 'round, even with moisture and temperature extremes.

“With a sow farm, you've always got preweaning mortalities and placental material, and that stuff can all be composted and gone in a week. Obviously for a mature sow, it is going to take longer with simply more tissue to be consumed in the process. But if you have composted them correctly, they are pretty well cooked in 90 days and even the bones bust up quite easily,” says Crawford.

Keys to Composting

First, locate the compost site near where the majority of the mortalities occur, and typically not in view of the general public, he says.

Load the compost pile correctly by layering the mortalities as a single layer, not simply as a pile of carcasses under a layer of carbon material. As more deads need to be added, simply continue to layer the pile, ensuring a minimum of 8-10 in. of carbon material covering the deads.

“Start with a layer of carbon material, maybe a foot deep, then place today's mortalities as the next layer, then cover them with 8-10 in. more of carbon,” suggests Crawford.

“There is not a lot of rocket science here,” he continues. “It's just the natural microbial breakdown of the carcass.” The University of Minnesota has found a 90-day system works quite well. When filling a compost bin, do a 30-day fill of carcasses, then start building a new pile. Build the second pile for 30 days while the first bin is cooking/decomposing for those 30 days.

On day 60, completely turn or re-mix the first pile using a skid steer loader or similar machine, pulling the compost out of that bin and moving it into a new bin so it becomes completely stirred. Let that first pile sit and cook for another 30 days, and when you've completed the 90-day composting period, going through two complete heat cycles, the process should be complete.

At that time, Crawford says, the compost material should be ready for land application, or it can be reused as a carbon source for the next mortalities.

Best carbon sources include straw, rice hulls, ground hay, turkey litter, yard waste, sawdust, peanut hulls, chopped silage and wood shavings/chips. Crawford rates wood chips, sawdust and turkey litter best because they are high carbon sources. Whatever you have available in sufficient quantity to do the job at the lowest cost is your best choice for carbon material.

“We want the compost to go through two complete heat cycles, up to 140 to 150° F,” he explains. To check, test with a 20- or 24-in. temperature probe, available through many supply houses.

With proper composting, all major bacteria and viruses will be completely destroyed.

If the sow farm is isolated from other pig sites, don't violate the biosecurity of the sow site by bringing dead pigs from off-site nurseries or finishers back to the sow farm for composting, he emphasizes.

In northern climates, carcasses can become frozen in winter. To compost, scatter out in the pile on a daily basis rather than concentrating them.

Building a Compost Site

Many producers can use old, open-front finishing units, cattle sheds or old, vacant sow gestation barns as a compost site. Using existing facilities can significantly reduce costs and allow for a learning period before deciding if a new composting facility is warranted

“We are going to build several compost sites for sow units that are going to have bins 12 ft. wide and deep,” explains Crawford. On average, six bins will be included, one just for storing the carbon material.

A typical compost site with a concrete pad out front, concrete sidewalls and a roof can cost around $15-20/sq. ft.

Most states have formulated rules on composting. The National Pork Board has detailed information posted on its Web site at under “composting.”

Animal ID Update


Described over the next five pages is a survey of consumer impressions about livestock identification (ID) and its value in boosting public confidence in the safety and security of the U.S. meat supply. Wisconsin pork industry leaders expressed concerns over cost, confidentiality and liability issues in USDA's plan for mandatory livestock ID. The threat of foreign animal diseases topped the list of concerns in comments submitted on the ID proposal by the National Pork Board and the Pork Industry Working Group.

Identification Plan Would Boost Public Confidence

U.S. consumers will become even more confident in the safety and security of the nation's meat and poultry supply with adoption of a mandatory National Animal Identification System.

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) plan, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (, would provide traceback capabilities to the farm of origin in 48 hours to target and isolate a disease outbreak.

Global Animal Management Inc. (GAM), a leading provider of animal and premises identification systems, sponsored a survey that polled consumers. GAM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corp.

Survey Results

One thousand consumers were surveyed in mid-May. They expressed confidence in the U.S. food supply, but survey respondents indicated their confidence levels would rise even higher with the introduction of NAIS.

More than 37% of respondents indicated their current meat safety confidence is high — at least 8 on a 10-point scale (1=not confident and 10=very confident). Ten percent rated their confidence as low (1-3). Overall, consumer confidence in the meat supply averaged 6.5.

With implementation of NAIS, average consumer confidence in the meat supply would climb to 7.4. Almost 55% of those polled indicated confidence would then be high (8-10), and under 4% said confidence would remain low (1-3).

“We are glad to know that consumers feel good about the integrity of the meat and poultry supply — as they should,” says Jim Heinle, GAM president. “The industry has worked hard to protect animal health and provide safe products. This survey shows that the ability to trace livestock diseases through a national identification system may be a tool to raise consumer confidence even further.”

Mandatory System Boosts Confidence

The survey points to added consumer confidence if participation is mandatory rather than voluntary. On the 10-point scale, average consumer confidence was 7.5 under a mandatory system, vs. 5.8 for a voluntary program. Also, 58% of consumers polled said they would be highly confident (8-10) if NAIS is required, compared with only 28.1% who said they would feel confident if the program is optional.

“Consumers are already confident in the U.S. meat supply, and an additional step that is mandatory will increase their confidence,” notes John Lawrence, agricultural economist with Iowa State University. “This research showed that confidence in the current system and NAIS seemed to increase with age, education and income.”

Respondents also expressed confidence that NAIS will provide farmers and ranchers the information necessary to protect livestock and poultry from animal diseases; 42% would be highly confident and only 5.6% would have low confidence.

As a disease management tool, the program does not require NAIS identification numbers on meat products in stores. However, retailers or suppliers might partner with producers to provide traceback information voluntarily.

When consumers were asked if they would prefer to buy identified meat products that were tracked by NAIS or buy products that weren't, the majority (55.6%) said they would choose the “identified” product, provided the price wasn't too much higher. Only 13.2% said they would buy the “identified” product regardless of price; 12% indicated they would continue to buy the lowest-priced product.

“There is an indication that consumers may pay a modest amount more for traceability,” says Lawrence. “This is consistent with other research. They like what they have but will take more at little or no cost.”

Heinle adds: “It is extremely difficult to predict what impact NAIS implementation will have on consumer behavior, since many factors enter into food purchase decisions. A proactive approach like NAIS certainly will help maintain the consuming public's vote of confidence, by strengthening both the reality and perception that our meat supply is among the safest in the world.”

As of late July, USDA had registered and assigned unique premises identification numbers to 89,138 farms and ranches. Of that total, more than 25% were registered using the Global Animal Management Premises Management System. This USDA-approved system integrates seamlessly with the GAM VeriSource system to track movements of livestock and manage data.

Information on VeriSource is available at Demonstrations of the system and other tools for traceability can be arranged by contacting Global Animal Management at (800) 235-9824.

ID Plan Draws Flood of Concerns

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a draft and asked for reactions to its National Animal Identification System (NAIS) proposal.

The USDA received a flurry of comments on the April 25 publication of NAIS all the way up to the July 6 deadline. Many industry groups offered ringing endorsements, but pressed USDA to push for an earlier date to implement mandatory livestock identification (ID). The scheduled date is January 2009 (see sidebar).

A number of other groups favored the NAIS plan, but only if it remained voluntary until cost, confidentiality and liability concerns were resolved.

The nearly 600 comments came from all walks of agriculture, from Old Order Amish farmers to representatives of alpacas, bison, fish, goat, cattle, sheep, poultry and hogs.

Producers Respond

The only individual pork producer comments were those from Wisconsin Pork Producers Association President Lynn Harrison of Elk Mound, WI, and Mike Wehler of Plain, WI, director of Member Services.

In their comments, the producers stressed it will be necessary to ensure there is broad industry support for the ID program before a mandatory system is imposed. They suggested that species advisory groups may need to be identified to gain and keep producer support.

“We suggest a voluntary trial period that demonstrates how the program can meet its goals for each of the species. One program will not fit all!” they wrote.

“The program should become mandatory when the species advisory committees recommend and support the mandatory phase of the program and the appropriate USDA agencies have sufficient funding for the mandatory program,” the Wisconsin producers added.

Also, the program for pork producers should be simple and costs minimized, they said. Tracking should be required only when the premise registration number (required for pork producers) is not effective in identifying the movement of animals.

A recurring theme in many statements was that program costs should be borne primarily by the public.

“It is the public that our government is trying to protect with a mandatory program,” pointed out Harrison and Wehler. “The effort and time required by producers should be their contribution to the cost of the program.”

Tracking animal movement should be the responsibility of the livestock buyer, they said.

Any database established for this program needs to remain confidential and not be shared with other databases, they stressed.

In addition, the public should not be able to use the Freedom of Information Act to access information about livestock producers.

The NAIS program is intended solely for animal identification and tracking. “Producers should not be subjected to liability related to food safety issues related to this program,” they emphasized.

South Dakota Farm Bureau Remarks

Cost, confidentiality and liability are also the main concerns echoed by South Dakota Farm Bureau Administrative Director Michael Held.

Costs of an ID program should be borne by the public through federal government funding.

“Cost estimates indicate a possible price of as much as $100 million annually,” said Held. “This is too expensive for livestock producers to bear, and since this is in the economic interest of the nation, adequate and ongoing funding must be made available as the system evolves.”

Confidentiality needs to be supported by legislation to ensure privacy of the data that livestock producers provide, said Held. Clarification needs to be provided as to which state and federal agencies have access to the data, said Held.

An effective traceback system should protect producers from liability as the animal passes on to the next party in the production, processing and merchandising system.

Outlining Animal ID Program Basics

Animal health officials have used livestock identification (ID) for years to help trace animals so that diseases could be eradicated.

Prime examples include scrapie eradication for sheep and pseudorabies eradication for swine, says David Miller, director, Research and Commodity Services, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Having had premises (group or lot) ID programs for years, implementing the NAIS for these species will mainly be a matter of how ID is carried forward from production through processing, he says.

The goal of the ID program is to be able to identify all animals and premises that have had contact with a foreign or domestic animal disease of concern within 48 hours after discovery.

This is to be accomplished using premises registration, animal ID and animal tracking. Each premises will be identified with a unique seven-character identifier, or a premises identification number. As animals move from site to site, they will be identified either individually with a unique, Animal Identification Number (AIN) or if handled as a group, with a Group/Lot Identification Number.

Animals will be tracked using individual or group lot ID numbers; those numbers will be kept in a national animal records database.

ID Program Takes Shape

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) took shape in April 2002 when the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) formed a task force to create an ID plan.

A final report was presented to industry later that year. In 2003, the U.S. Animal Identification Plan was drafted and later expanded from food animals to include other species such as alpacas, llamas and horses.

NAIS' development has been expedited by USDA since the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) struck the United States in late December 2003.

USDA's timeline for NAIS is as follows:

July 2005: All states operational for premises registration;

August 2005: Animal Identification Number system operational;

Summer 2005: USDA will consider all remarks from the listening sessions and written comments on the draft ID plan in drafting a proposed rule. This rule would establish new regulations for requiring premises to be registered and for animals to be identified and tracked based on NAIS standards.

July 2006: USDA will publish a proposed rule with new requirements for premises registration and animal ID.

Fall 2007: USDA will publish the final rule establishing mandatory animal ID and premises registration requirements.

January 2008: Final rule on premises registration and animal ID become effective; and

January 2009: Mandatory animal ID including the animal movement/tracking provision becomes effective.

Details on the animal ID program can be found by viewing or by contacting Neil Hammerschmidt, USDA Animal Identification Officer, Eradication and Surveillance Team, National Center for Animal Health Programs, 4700 River Road Unit 43, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-5571.

Pork Officials Respond to USDA Plan

Foreign animal diseases highlight livestock identification concerns.

Concern over the devastation from foreign animal diseases (FAD) tops the list of issues covered in pork industry comments to the Agriculture Department's proposed plan for mandatory livestock identification (ID).

USDA has proposed that all premises registration be completed by January 2008 and mandatory ID be in place by January 2009.

But the Pork Industry Identification Working Group (PIIWG) commented that it is imperative to speed up implementation of the ID rule to enable rapid response and containment in the event an FAD is discovered.

“Assuming that confidentiality concerns are resolved, the PIIWG supports an aggressive timeline in order to protect the national herd from the devastation of a disease crisis. The PIIWG would like to see all premises registered by 2007 and a mandatory animal ID system by 2008.”

In its comments on the ID plan, the National Pork Board Swine Health Committee identified FAD control as a priority.

“Foot-and-mouth disease can infect all cloven-hoofed animals. Because of this, effective and mandatory ID of all premises of all relevant species is essential to enable animal health officials to rapidly track and contain foreign animal disease should it be introduced into the country,” explains Paul Sundberg, DVM, Pork Board vice president for science and technology.

Sundberg also stresses the importance of USDA allocating adequate resources for livestock premises ID and mandatory animal ID.

So far, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has received about $33 million for National Animal Identification System (NAIS) implementation in fiscal year 2005 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. USDA also transferred $18.8 million from its Commodity Credit Corp. to APHIS in fiscal year 2004 to support the program.

Group Formed to Address ID

The Pork Board has been one of the participants of the PIIWG, which was formed under the direction of USDA's National Identification Steering Committee.

The PIIWG includes numerous producer and allied industry groups that prepared comments on the national ID plan, says PIIWG chairperson Robyn Fleck, DVM, director of swine health programs for the Pork Board.

Summing up the group's comments she said: “We supported mandatory registration of premises, and maintenance movement records provided that confidentiality issues are resolved. We also support ID of swine based on movement-specific rather than age-specific requirements.

“The group proposed that the majority of movement information should be maintained as on-farm business records, and reporting should only be required for interstate movement because we already have that requirement in the Code of Federal Regulations,” says Fleck.

The USDA proposal refers to the use of eartags and tagging devices to identify animals. Fleck says the proposal should be flexible in the type of ID technology permitted. The sheep and horse working groups, for example, would like alternatives to standard eartags. And for pigs that move as lots, group ID using either documentation, like a passport, or tattoos would work.

The PIIWG recommends that animals requiring approved identification devices be identified before shipment from the source premises. Groups or lots of animals requiring group/lot identification may not leave their source premises without documentation of either a valid premises ID number or the group/lot identifier.

“Pork producers routinely record production information including animal movements,” adds Sundberg. “These records include animal ID and could be used by animal health officials to support the goal of a 48-hour traceback in the event of an animal health emergency.”

A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or Interstate Movement Report is currently required for all interstate movement of hogs, says Sundberg. “This system is effective in providing a way to record and track animal movements. Converting the interstate movement reporting system to one of electronic recording and transfer would enable its use for animal health tracking purposes without unnecessary intrusion into the daily responsibilities of pork producers.

“Electronic recording and transfer would also support accessing the data in a timely fashion and assist in the 48-hour traceback goal,” he says.

How to handle ID for intrastate movement of animals is another area to be addressed, says Sundberg. Currently, intrastate movement recording and reporting is handled at the state level. Sundberg calls for additional research to better understand the impact of having a mandatory intrastate movement system.

Program compliance should be audited and enforced by animal health officials by personal visits to official identification application sites or by communication with such sites, the PIIWG said in its comments.

For private sales or movement of animals not going through a sales barn or market, the PIIWG advised site visits of a statistically valid percentage of premises. “State and federal animal health officials must have the flexibility to examine farm or market records in a targeted fashion, rather than in a random fashion.”

Action Needed

What's needed right now is for all pork producers to get their premises registered to become part of the ID program, says Sundberg.

Sign up information is on the National Pork Producers Council Web site,

Sundberg concludes: “The mandatory ID program is going to come. For our part, we want something that is affordable and effective that can be implemented in a timely manner.”

Indiana Producer Leads National Pork Board

Rensselaer, IN, pork producer Danita Rodibaugh was elected president of the National Pork Board at the board's summer meeting in Dallas, TX. Wayne Peugh, owner of a 2,500-sow, farrow-to-finish operation at Edelstein, IL, was named as vice president.

Rodibaugh succeeds Geneseo, IL, pork producer Dave Culbertson in leading the 15-member board responsible for the demand-building, research and consumer information programs supported by producers through the pork checkoff program.

Rodibaugh has held leadership posts at the local, state and federal level and is considered an industry expert on environmental issues.

“It is a tremendous honor to lead an organization that is committed to helping all pork producers, regardless of where they live or the production system they use,” says Rodibaugh, a stockholder in the family farm corporation, and office manager in the 400-sow, farrow-to-finish and seedstock operations.

“Over the years, the pork checkoff has helped our industry make great strides in producing better animals, improving our environmental practices and helping consumers understand how pork fits into their dietary needs. But there is so much more that needs to be done and I am excited to have the opportunity to lead that important work,” she says.

The board also seated new members Carol Hein of Spickard, MO, and Brian Zimmerman of Beatrice, NE, to serve three-year terms.

Midwest Pork Conference

The Midwest Pork Conference Aug. 31 in Indianapolis, IN, features 12 seminars plus tabletop commercial displays.

Three concurrent sessions are offered. Track 1 on management and herd health covers porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Other talks look at weaning age and 10 strategies to successful artificial insemination.

Track 2 on marketing and economics details whether producers should sell their sows, the cost of poor animal handling, market price forecast and economics of purchasing segregated early weaning vs. feeder pigs.

Track 3 on legal and regulatory issues reviews the 2007 Farm Bill, insurance and Indiana's plans to double pork production.

The program is at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites (317/846-2700). Register by calling (800) 535-2405 or go online at

Producer Plants Advance

Triumph Foods' plant set to open late summer/fall.

The 625,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art Triumph Foods packing and processing plant at St. Joseph, MO, is slated to open its doors for business in the next few months, according to Jerry Lehenbauer, company vice president.

About 50 producers representing 342,000 sows across the Midwest own Triumph Foods. Members include some of the industry's top producers including Christensen Farms and New Fashion Pork based in Minnesota, the Hanor Company based in Wisconsin and TriOak Foods based in Iowa.

Others include Eichelberger Farms, a family-owned operation of 19,000 sows in Iowa and Allied Producers Cooperative, made up of more than 30 Midwest pork producers.

The company plans to focus on enhanced food safety and quality pork production. “Our members will be following a uniform set of production standards, including requirements for genetics, nutrition, animal health, animal welfare and food safety,” says Lehenbauer.

“In addition, nearly all of the market hogs delivered by our members will be produced with Triumph Foods' TR4 boar line,” he adds. “Triumph Foods directly controls the TR4 genetic improvement program, which uses an enhanced selection process and information technology system to improve the overall quality of our pork products. We are specifically focusing on leanness, color, texture and marbling.”

Triumph Foods will operate a single-shift production line designed to process in excess of 1,000 hogs/hour, says Lehenbauer. The plant is expected to employee 500 workers and double that number in the first year. Starting a second shift will be based on product sales and available workforce.

Products from the $130 million facility will be marketed and sold by Seaboard Farms, notes Lehenbauer.

The plant and corporate headquarters are being built on 60 acres in the St. Joseph industrial park.

Meadowbrook Farms' First Year

The year 2004 was the first full year of business for Meadowbrook Farms Cooperative, which operates a producer-owned slaughter and processing facility at Rantoul, IL.

The single-shift plant kills and fabricates 3,400 head of hogs a day, producing three million pounds of product a week, according to James Altemus, vice president in charge of marketing and information.

The plant lost money the first three quarters of 2004 due to mechanical start-up problems. But sales and profits improved in the last quarter of 2004 and on into 2005.

Branded pork products are being sold to retail stores from coast to coast, using the popular label slogan, “Farmer-Owned Means Farm Fresh Pork.”

Exports account for 13-14% of product sales. Altemus cites one particular export sales victory: a 20,000-lb. test shipment of chilled pork sold to Japan. The buyer called for a 45-day shelf life (18 days for shipment and 27 days in the store), which Meadowbrook was able to adhere to using its Cryovac vacuum packaging system and paying constant attention to plant hygiene and sanitation.

Meadowbrook touches both ends of the quality spectrum, supplying commodity products to retail outlets and high-end pork to well-known restaurants such as the Chicago Chop House, points out Altemus.

Antibiotic-free is a growing niche market. The Belleville, IL-based company is developing two certification programs. In the classic program, pork is produced without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones or stimulants, pesticides or animal by-products in the feed. The Heritage program involves free-range pork production.

Antibiotic-free pork products are being produced from about 800 hogs a week and shipped to consumers in the Northeast United States.

About 200 cooperative members supply Meadowbrook with hogs from across the Midwest.

Illinois Processor to Build

Carpentersville, IL-based pork processor Trim-Rite has announced plans to build a new slaughter plant just east of Freeport, IL.

The Illinois Department of Agri-culture awarded the processor a $300,000 grant in late March for site preparation.

When completed, the plant will kill 2,000 hogs a day and employ about 200 people. The plant is expected to open in 12-18 months.

NPPC Leader Testifies

National Pork Producers Council President-Elect Joy Philippi offered a specific list of ways to improve farm policy in an open dialogue session on the new farm bill in Nashville, TN.

The Bruning, NE, producer said to benefit pork producers, new farm policy must be aimed at reducing or controlling costs of production, increasing the price received for pork products and increasing the quality of U.S. pork products.

In testimony before Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in the first of several listening sessions, Philippi added that conservation cost-share funds for pork producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program fell short of what was needed.

“Pork producers received less cost-share assistance than any other livestock species,” she said. “This must be corrected in new farm policy.”

Doubling Pork Production

The “Doubling Pork” Task Force has the goal of assessing efforts to double pork production in Indiana by 2025, says Terry Fleck, project coordinator and executive vice president, Indiana Pork Producers Association.

The group is exploring all positive and negative aspects of this venture, which is an outgrowth of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' drive to bring economic vitality back to the state.

Fleck estimates that Indiana has lost 25-30% of its pork production and has over-capacity in its slaughter and processing sector.

The task force's final report is due to the state department of agriculture in October.