News from the National Pork Board
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Circovirus vaccination effectiveness

Researchers at Kansas State University, led by Bob Rowland, looked into the role of maternal antibody in determining porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) vaccine efficacy. Their research found that commercial PCV2 vaccines are remarkably effective in controlling porcine circovirus associated disease. However, there are still concerns regarding the appearance of what appear to be “vaccination failures,” which presumably result from high levels of maternal antibody or antibody produced by nursery pigs in response to natural infection. The results of this study confirmed the effectiveness of PCV2 vaccination, even in the face of maternal antibody. Furthermore, the data suggest that vaccine-induced antibody combined with maternally derived antibody can provide effective protection from farrow through finish.

For more information, go to or contact Lisa Becton at or 515-223-2791.

Sow longevity and reproductive performance

In a recent Checkoff-funded study, researchers at North Carolina State studied the effects of neonatal litter size and early puberty stimulation on sow longevity and reproductive performance. In this study, they found that producers may be able to implement a strategy that increases sow longevity and lifetime reproductive performance. Specifically, the data suggest that at the end of six parities, regardless of age of puberty induction, significantly more sows raised in small litters (35%) were still in production, compared with those raised in large litters (17%). Similarly, regardless of the size of the litter in which they nursed, significantly more sows exposed to boars at 140 days of age (33%) remained in the herd, compared with their counterparts given boar exposure at 170 days of age (16%).

For more information, go to or contact Mark Knauer at or 515-223-2606.

Classical swine fever

Checkoff research conducted by a team lead by Manuel V. Borca, with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, identified the host factors interacting with classical swine fever virus proteins to see how they affected development of novel anti-viral therapeutics. They found that during the infection of a cell, a virus comes in contact with many host proteins. These interactions between virus and host factors enable the successful production of virus progeny and progress of the disease. Identification and characterization of such interactions could be useful in providing novel alternatives to alter virus multiplication and, perhaps, disease. The researchers also found that manipulation of the identified host-virus interactions allowed development of attenuated strains of virus which may lead to further development of live attenuated vaccine against classical swine fever.

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

MRSA prevalence and threat from swine

In Checkoff-funded research lead by Peter Davies at the University of Minnesota, a team investigated the prevalence and characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pigs and farm workers on conventional and antibiotic-free swine farms in the United States. They were driven by the fact that unusual strains of MRSA associated with livestock in Europe and North America have raised concerns about the human-health implications of these bacteria, particularly for people working with pigs. Therefore, the objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of MRSA in pigs on conventional and antibiotic-free swine farms in Minnesota, and to characterize the isolates obtained. Their findings revealed that livestock-associated MRSA may not be widespread in conventional or antibiotic-free swine farms in Minnesota, but that closely related methicillin-susceptible organisms were the common isolates from pigs.

For more information, go to or contact Jennifer Koeman at or 515-223-2633.

Other Checkoff news

Third-party verification of PQA Plus site assessment underway

In May, a small percentage of pork producers who have achieved Pork Quality Assurance Plus site assessment status began to be randomly selected to voluntarily participate in the next step in the program – an independent third-party verification of their farm’s compliance with the program’s objectives of maintaining Good Production Practices and continuous improvement.

Of the six organizations that applied to conduct the on-farm visits, a National Pork Board producer-led panel selected two – Validus, a firm based in Urbandale, Iowa, and the Audit, Review and Compliance branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Either one of the vendors will be able to conduct an independent third-party verification of the PQA Plus program on producer operations.

Chris Novak, Pork Checkoff CEO, said, “The PQA Plus program is not a mere symbol of our industry’s commitment to responsible production practices; rather, it must function as a means for actively improving how our industry operates. This will further demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the Good Production Practices, along with the Care and Well-Being Principles of the We Care initiative.”

To learn more about third-party verification of the PQA Plus program, go to under the Certification tab, or contact Sherrie Niekamp at or 515-223-3533.

Foot-and-mouth disease pocket guide available

Developed through a cooperative agreement funded by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Pork Checkoff, in collaboration with AASV and Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health, has created a new foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) educational pocket guide. The laminated flipchart contains photos illustrating lesions associated with FMD in domestic and feral swine with the purpose of improving vesicular disease surveillance in swine by providing practitioners and veterinary students with a convenient resource illustrating the progression of FMD lesions.

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

Euthanasia training module complete

A new Pork Checkoff euthanasia training module, delivered on DVD, is now available for veterinarians and producers. The video illustrates proper techniques as shown in the current On-Farm Euthanasia Guide.

For more information, contact Sherrie Niekamp at or 515-223-3533.

New Pork Checkoff research e-Newsletter

Be sure to sign up for the next issue of the Pork Checkoff Research REVIEW e-Newsletter due in late July and every 60 days thereafter. The smartphone-friendly publication covers all areas of Pork Checkoff research from Animal Science to Pork Safety to the Environment and more in short, easy-to-read paragraphs. If you want to get more information on any research study, simply click on the link provided to access’s main research database where you can read the entire report.

To sign up for the newsletter, go to and click the News tab. For more information, contact Mike King at or 515-223-3532.