News from the National Pork Board
Checkoff research highlighted at International PRRS Symposium
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The Pork Checkoff once again demonstrated its commitment to finding solutions for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) by helping fund this year’s International PRRS Symposium and present more that 26 research studies on the subject. The annual meeting, held in Chicago, Illinois, drew more than 275 researchers and pork-industry participants from 22 countries, making it the world’s largest yearly gathering on PRRS.

Checkoff Director of Swine Health Information and Research Dr Lisa Becton was co-chair of the 2010 International PRRS Symposium along with Dr X. E. Meng of Virginia Tech University. Becton said, “The message we continue to hear is very clear – there are still many unanswered questions regarding the PRRS virus and how to effectively control and eliminate it from swine herds, but we are making progress. That’s why this forum and all the participating researchers play such a critical role in helping to maintain the momentum that has built over the years.”

For additional PRRS information, go to and For proceedings from the symposium, go to Also, contact Dr Lisa Becton at or 515-223-2791.

Litter-rearing environment may affect sow productivity

Can the litter size that a gilt was raised in affect her lifetime productivity as a sow? And does age at first boar exposure limit her potential parities? These were questions addressed in a Pork Checkoff-funded study led by Dr William Flowers at North Carolina State University.

At the end of six parities, significantly more sows raised in small litters (< 7 piglets) were still in production than were those raised in large litters (> 10 piglets), regardless of age of puberty induction. Similarly, regardless of the size of the litter in which they nursed, significantly more sows exposed to boars at 140 days of age remained in the herd after six parities than did their counterparts, given boar exposure at 170 days of age. Collectively, the total number of pigs produced through six parities per gilt bred in each management system was determined and these estimates are as follows: Small neonatal litter + boar exposure at 140 days = 43.2 pigs; small neonatal litter + boar exposure at 170 days = 29.8 pigs; large neonatal litter + boar exposure at 140 days = 29.7 pigs; and large neonatal litter + boar exposure at 170 days = 21.9 pigs.

“These findings represent changes commercial producers can make in their herds today that can increase profitability. By strategic cross-fostering, earlier puberty stimulation, or both, there is potential for increased sow-lifetime productivity,” said Dr Mark Knauer, Pork Checkoff’s director of animal science.

For more information contact Dr Mark Knauer, or 515-223-2606.

Comprehensive disease surveillance moves forward

In recent meetings organized by the Pork Checkoff staff, stakeholders representing pork producers, veterinarians, government, and industry have come together to provide perspectives and recommendations to create a comprehensive disease surveillance system for the nation’s swine herd. Aside from the obvious benefits at the farm level, it is generally recognized that such a move would help protect the entire US pork industry from the threats of domestic and foreign animal diseases, which often have trade implications.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes notes that the US pork industry currently exports 20% of annual production. He estimated that the 2009 H1N1 outbreak cost producers $27.29 per animal in lost revenue due to loss of exports.

“We hope to build upon the work that we’ve done with influenza surveillance in swine,” said Dr Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board. “We’re well on our way to prioritizing the top health issues for the swine industry and we’re confident we can work together to create a comprehensive and integrated system to benefit the entire industry.”

For more information, contact Dr Paul Sundberg, or 515-223-2764.

Swine premises identification surpasses 90%

As of the end of 2010, 92% of all US swine premises had nationally standardized premises identification numbers (PINs). This milestone figure, calculated by the Pork Checkoff using USDA data, represents 65,907 premises. Nearly half of these farms were registered over the last 3 years in conjunction with a cooperative agreement between the pork industry and USDA.

“This achievement means that pork producers and the pork industry realize that premises identification is instrumental in helping to take the health of our herds into the 21st century and to protect our industry from long-term negative consequences of a foreign animal disease,” said Gene Nemechek, a swine veterinarian from Springdale, Arkansas, and president of the National Pork Board.

According to Patrick Webb, DVM, the Pork Checkoff’s director of swine health, the Checkoff will continue to work with federal and state animal-health authorities to promote PINs and further implementation of the swine ID plan. The next step is to increase adoption of the individual and group identification practices under the plan.

For more information, contact Dr Patrick Webb at or 515-223-3441.

Carbon footprint tool on way

Pork producers and swine practitioners alike will have a new tool at their disposal as soon as the Pork Checkoff unveils a carbon footprint “calculator” in the coming weeks. Developed with experts at the University of Arkansas, the tool will offer new insights into a farm’s carbon footprint in terms of greenhouse gases. More importantly, it will highlight key areas on a farm where inefficiencies exist that can then be addressed to lower production costs and help improve the environment.

For additional information, contact Allan Stokes at or 515-223-3447.

TQA advisor recertification here

The National Pork Board has revised the Transport Quality Assurance(TQA) program, and advisor recertification is underway. Transport Quality Assurance advisors may choose one of two methods to certify.

Certify online. The 2-hour online training session is only available to currently certified TQA instructors, and is not available for advisors who completed online recertification in 2008. Advisors who completed online recertification in 2008 will need to attend the face-to-face training. The online training session will be available until May 1, 2011.

Certify at a day-long, face-to-face training session. A detailed registration brochure will be available on

Current advisors should look for a letter and an e-mail with further details about the recertification process. Anyone desiring to become a new TQA advisor will need to participate in a face-to-face training session. The online training session is only available for currently certified TQA instructors.

If you have any questions, please contact the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675.