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Effectiveness of non-penetrating captive bolt and restraint for piglet euthanasia

Principal researcher: Tina Widowski, University of Guelph

Blunt-force trauma (BFT) remains the most commonly practiced method for euthanasia of piglets, but the effectiveness of the technique is significantly limited by the size of the piglet, and it is not recommended for piglets greater than 5.4 kg (12 lb) When properly performed, BFT has been shown to be humane, although it may not be aesthetically or emotionally acceptable for many stockpeople. Therefore, alternative euthanasia methods for piglets are being investigated. The project reported here investigated the effectiveness of the modified design for euthanasia of newborn piglets and its potential to be used on larger piglets up to 9 kg (20 lb). In trials using non-penetrating captive bolt (NPCB), the results indicated that the NPCB can effectively induce cardiac arrest in piglets up to 9 kg and that it causes brain lesions known to be associated with loss of consciousness. The next stage of research will be testing the effectiveness of the NPCB on conscious piglets. Due to the size of the piglets within the next trial (up to 9 kg), a restraint device will also be designed to ensure the safety of the operator and the piglet.

For more information, contact Sherrie Niekamp, Checkoff’s animal welfare director, at or 515-223-3533.

Contribution of prior SIV infection in enhancing secondary Haemophilus parasuis

Principal investigator: Crystal Loving, USDA/ARS

Porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) is a multifactorial disease, and swine influenza virus (SIV) is a known contributor to it and may predispose pigs to secondary bacterial infection. To determine if SIV predisposes or enhances secondary Haemophilus parasuis (Hps) infection, studies were performed to evaluate disease severity after Hps challenge in pigs previously infected with SIV. Two separate studies were performed in which pigs were challenged with Hps 5 or 10 days following SIV infection. In the first study, 4-week-old pigs were challenged with SIV and 10 days later, infected with Hps. There was no significant difference in Hps colonization in SIV-Hps-infected or Hps-only infected pigs, although host immune responses were significantly increased in the SIV-Hps group compared to the Hps- or SIV-alone groups. In the second study, in an attempt to bypass maternal immunity, 8-week-old pigs were used. Pigs were challenged with SIV and then 5 days later, challenged with Hps. Haemophilus parasuis colonization 1 day following Hps challenge was not significantly affected by prior SIV infection, nor were host immune responses significantly different between SIV-Hps challenged pigs and Hps-only pigs.

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

To get more Checkoff research in your in-box…

Be sure to sign up for the Pork Checkoff Research REVIEW newsletter. This timely and Smartphone-friendly publication is published every 60 days and 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 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.

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 DVD 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) DVD, 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.

2012: The year to achieve PQA Plus certification, site assessment

If you serve as a Pork Quality Assurance Plus advisor, 2012 is the year to make sure producers in your area are certified and assessed. Advisors can log in to the PQA Plus advisor area on and get the latest information they need to help their producers and clients. 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).

For more information about any PQA Plus initiative, contact Dinah Peebles, Checkoff’s certifications manager, at or 515-223-2795.

PQA Plus version 1.2 Spanish Manual now available on

To support advisor training sessions and to assist those who speak English as a second language, Pork Checkoff has developed the PQA Plus version 1.2 materials in Spanish. The manual and other documents can be found in the Pork Store and will help you support the PQA Plus program with trainees who may be more comfortable with Spanish. The updated PQA Plus 1.2 PowerPoint can be downloaded from the password-protected portion of or is available on CD by request. If you prefer a CD, please contact Pork Checkoff at 800-456-7675 to request your copy of the PQA Plus 1.2 Spanish Manual.

Environmental stewards to be honored at pork forum: Nominations sought

The 2011 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards, named last fall by the Pork Checkoff and co-sponsor National Hog Farmer, will receive the recognition of their peers at the 2012 National Pork Industry Forum to be held March 1-3 in Denver, Colorado. The award, now in its 17th year, recognizes producers who demonstrate a firm commitment to safeguarding the environment and their local communities.

The 2011 award recipients are Golden Circle Pork, Woodward, Iowa; John M. Langdon Farms, Benson, North Carolina; Wuebker Farms, Versailles, Ohio; and Cleveland Pork, Elysburg, Pennsylvania.

For more information on how to nominate producers for the 2012 awards program, contact Mike King, Checkoff’s science communications manager, at or 515-223-3532.