News from the National Pork Board

"Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly" materials available

Pork CheckoffThe "Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly" program was launched in early February 2005. This Pork Checkoff-funded program consists of responsible-use principles and guidelines intended to guide producers and veterinarians through an assessment of the need for antibiotics and their appropriate use and disposal. The program also incorporates practices detailed in the Checkoff's Pork Quality Assurance program, eg, for the development of a herd health plan and a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship.

The five principles and guidelines comprising the Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly program are the following:

  • Take appropriate steps to decrease the need for the application of antibiotics;
  • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of all uses of antibiotics;
  • Use antibiotics only when they provide measurable benefits;
  • Complete the Pork Quality Assurance program and fully implement the management practices described for responsible use of animal health products into daily operations; and
  • Follow the Take Care Responsible Use Guidelines.

The Take Care Responsible Use Guidelines are as follows:

  • Use professional veterinary input as the basis for all medication decision-making;
  • Antibiotics should be used for treatment only when there is an appropriate clinical diagnosis;
  • Limit antibiotic treatment to ill or at-risk animals, treating the fewest animals indicated;
  • Antibiotics that are important in treating antibiotic-resistant infections in human or veterinary medicine should be used in animals only after careful review and reasonable justification;
  • It is illegal for producers to mix together injectable or in-water medications, including antibiotics; and
  • Minimize environmental exposure through proper handling and disposal of all animal health products, including antibiotics.

The Take Care manual also includes a review of Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Guidance for Industry #152.

The Take Care program is an example of industry-wide cooperation. Developed by pork producers on the Pork Checkoff's Pork Safety Committee and the Pharmaceutical Issues Task Force, it also received input from the pharmaceutical and feed industries, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Pork Producers Council.

Copies of Take Care materials and the producer's guide to using antibiotics responsibly are available from the Pork Checkoff. Contact Liz Wagstrom at or call 515-223-2600. More information is also available online at

Funding mapped for the swine genome sequencing project

With the help of the National Pork Board, the International Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium (ISGSC) has accumulated over $30 million in funding ($US) to be used for mapping the swine genome.

The consortium represents research institutions, private organizations, governmental entities, and the pork producers of the United States, through the National Pork Board and state associations such as the North Carolina Pork Council and the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Individuals from eight different countries participate in the consortium.

The National Pork Board played an important role in promoting the value of this research for the industry. The project has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and identified as a high priority for funding by the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service's National Research Initiative (NRI) and the National Institutes of Health.

In late January 2005, the USDA credited America's pork producers for the commitment to the swine genome mapping project and for showing the leadership needed to ensure funding from sources such as the NRI. Through the Pork Checkoff, pork producers committed $750,000 to the genome mapping project. The US industry's total commitment is $12,250,000 and includes funds from the USDA, NRI, and state producer associations. In-kind donations from various other entities around the world complete the estimated project budget of $30 million.

The consortium estimates that the swine genome will be mapped by the fall of 2006. Genome sequencing of two other domestic animal species has recently been completed, the bovine in 2005 and the chicken in 2004. An even, competitive playing field between swine and the other food animal industries is one of the reasons the National Pork Board and the ISGSC want the project to continue.

Members of the ISGSC have identified several potential benefits that producers and the industry in general may achieve from having the swine genome sequence available. Among them is the ability to select animals with desirable genes or low heritability traits; elimination of undesirable genes from animal populations, such as genes that adversely affect pork quality; development of targeted new drugs and performance enhancers; ability to pair certain animal lines with specific housing systems; and development of new diagnostic tools for diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and foot-and-mouth disease.

For more information on the swine genome project, contact Mark Boggess at or by phone at 515-223-2600.

Growing support for Swine Welfare Assurance Program

The Pork Checkoff's Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP) continues to gain support from industry participants. Tyson Fresh Meats, Cargill Pork, Premium Standard Farms, and Farmland Foods, among others, have pledged their support for the program as a "science-based, implementable and sustainable industry standard for assuring the welfare of pigs of all ages on the farm."

SWAP is a voluntary, science-based program for pork producers to objectively assess and benchmark the care and welfare of their pigs. SWAP consists of nine care and well-being principles that include review of on-farm records, facilities, and observation of individual pigs.

Results of a SWAP assessment can be used to identify issues on-farm that may become welfare, health, or production problems. SWAP assessments are opportunities for farm managers and employees to analyze their health and production practices with a Certified SWAP Educator (CSE), which may help them to identify previously missed opportunities to improve the welfare of pigs on-farm.

Certified SWAP Educators are veterinarians, agricultural extension specialists, animal scientists, and agriculture educators with at least 2 years of swine-production experience. After completing CSE training, SWAP educators can perform on-farm SWAP assessments and register assessed farms on the Checkoff's website.

For more information on SWAP or to view the list and news releases of organizations supporting SWAP, please visit the SWAP website at

Pork Quality Assurance Level III to be revised

A group of producers, veterinarians, extension specialists, and Pork Checkoff staff have been charged with revising the content of the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) program. The group, headed by Gary Bowman, swine extension veterinarian at The Ohio State University, will report to the National Pork Board's Pork Safety and Education committees.