News from the National Pork Board
Pork Checkoff LogoPork Checkoff study: PRRS costs industry $664 million annually

A new study, underwritten by the Pork Checkoff and conducted by Iowa State University, estimates that porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) continues to be a major drag on the US pork industry, costing the pork industry $664 million per year. This translates into $1.8 million per day or $114.71 per sow annually. The previous economic study in 2005 calculated PRRS losses at $560 million annually.

On a related note, the 2011 International PRRS Symposium will be held on December 2 and 3 in Chicago, Illinois. This is immediately prior to the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases and hosted by the PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project, National Pork Board, and NC-229 Respiratory Diseases Committee. The Web site has more information.

For more information about the study or the symposium, contact Lisa Becton at or 515-223-2791.

New euthanasia tool offered

Based on Checkoff’s “On-farm Euthanasia of Swine” booklet, a new software-based training module will help train pork producers and farm workers in the correct techniques of euthanasia. Specifically, the six chapters on the CD explain the importance of timeliness and application of specific methods of euthanasia and show computer-generated graphics of proper technique. To get copies of the bilingual (English and Spanish) CD, call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675.

For more information, contact Sherrie Niekamp, Checkoff’s Animal Welfare Director, at or 515-223-3533.

New Director of Animal Science

Chris Hostetler has joined the National Pork Board in Des Moines as Director of Animal Science. He was most recently at South Dakota State University, Department of Animal Science, where he taught swine production and nutrition courses and did related research in monogastric nutrition. Hostetler grew up on a farm in northern Indiana. He earned his BS at Purdue University, his master’s degree at the University of Florida, and his doctorate at Washington State University, all in animal science.

For more information, contact Chris Hostetler at or 515-223-2606.

Year-end push is on for PQA Plus certification, site assessment

If you serve as a Pork Quality Assurance Plus advisor, now is the time to get all year-end producer appointments set to either certify them in the program or get their farms assessed. To help do that, remember to log in to the PQA Plus advisor on You should have the step-by-step instructions for accessing the new site in previous e-mails. If you need assistance re-enrolling in the certification Web site, please contact the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675 during business hours (Monday to Friday, 7 am to 5 pm central time).

Swine ID now at 100% coverage

According to Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health at the Pork Checkoff, 100% of the estimated swine production sites in the United States have obtained a nationally standardized premises identification number, typically referred to as a standard premises identification number (PIN). While he said this milestone is encouraging, he does not want producers or veterinarians to become complacent about registering new swine premises. “Maintaining a robust level of participation in this effort is critical to providing accurate premises information needed by state and federal animal-health authorities,” said Webb. “This is extremely important for the industry to be able to rapidly respond to the introduction of a foreign animal disease.”

For additional information on the Swine ID Plan or the “Think Pink” sow ID tags, go to or contact Patrick Webb at or 515-223-3441.

Latest Checkoff research

Swine health: Serological surveillance of wild boars for Trichinella spiralis

Principal researcher: Dolores Hill, USDA/ARS/ANRI. Trichinella spiralis and Toxoplasma gondii are important parasites that infect domestic and feral swine. Feral swine are attracted to and have direct contact with nonbiosecure domestic swine, which presents opportunity for disease transmission. A serological survey was conducted to estimate the prevalence of Trichinella species and T gondii in feral swine in the United States and risk factors associated with infection. The overall seroprevalence of antibodies to Trichinella species and T gondii, indicating infection, was 3.0% and 17.5%, respectively. A small proportion of feral swine (0.6%) were seropositive for both parasites. Toxoplasma-seropositive feral swine were widespread across the South and Midwest, and more restricted in the West. Trichinella infection was significantly higher in the South than in the Midwest, and higher in the Midwest than in the West region. The most probable distribution areas for both parasites are similar, concentrated mostly in the South and the Midwest. It is concluded that feral swine pose a significant risk for introduction of Trichinella and Toxoplasma into herds of nonbiosecure domestic swine as a result of increasing overlap of the range of feral swine with nonbiosecure domestic swine production facilities in the United States.

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

Swine health: Epidemiology of porcine pestivirus and Torque teno virus in wean-to-finish pigs

Principal investigator: Jeffrey Zimmerman, Iowa State University. The purpose of this study was to describe the circulation of Torque teno virus (TTV), porcine pestivirus (PPeV), or both in commercial wean-to-finish populations. Oral fluid samples were collected from 10 wean-to-finish sites at 2-week intervals from placement (3 weeks of age) to marketing. Testing for PPeV and TTV using PCR-based assays was performed on these samples. Among the 600 oral-fluid samples tested, one tested positive for PPeV. In contrast, 155 (26%) tested positive for TTV1; 483 (80%) tested positive for TTV2; and 134 (22%) tested positive for both TTV1 and TTV2. Thus, the results indicated that TTV infection was common in the 10 commercial wean-to-finish cohorts monitored in this survey. The results of this study corroborate earlier work demonstrating the utility of oral fluids for the surveillance of infectious agents of swine. As additional pathogens are demonstrated in swine oral fluid and improvements in assay optimization are achieved, this approach will be increasingly used for surveillance of other endemic and foreign-animal pathogens.

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