News from the National Pork Board
Checkoff-funded research

Validation of captive bolt as a single-stage euthanasia method

Principle researcher: Dr Suzanne Millman, Iowa State University

Key points:

•  The Cash Dispatch captive-bolt device is effective as a single-step euthanasia method for pigs weighing less than 200 kg (441 lb).

•  Weight class was significantly associated with the need for a second shot.

•  Stock people should be prepared to administer a second shot swiftly when euthanizing mature pigs with a captivebolt device.

Summary: Limited research has been published on the use of penetrative or non-penetrating captive bolt for swine euthanasia. The Cash Dispatch Kit (Jarvis Industries Canada Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, Canada) is a heavy-duty, cartridge-propelled, captive-bolt device with interchangeable muzzle assemblies. The unit provides a non-penetrating captive-bolt muzzle for piglets and a variety of penetrating bolt assemblies for large nursery-age pigs to mature breeding stock. We conducted two experiments to determine the effectiveness of a single application of the captive-bolt device to euthanize pigs of different ages. Trial #1 explored the effectiveness of the Cash Dispatch captive-bolt device when applied to anesthetized pigs in a laboratory setting. We also evaluated the association between traumatic brain injury and effectiveness of the captive bolt to euthanize pigs at different ages. Forty-two pigs were enrolled in six weight classes: 2 to 3 kg, 7.5 to 10 kg, 15 to 20 kg, 30 to 40 kg, 100 to120 kg, 200 to 250 kg, and >300 kg. All pigs in the five lightest weight classes were effectively euthanized. Four of the 12 pigs in the heaviest weight classes required a secondary method. In Trial #2, we enlisted15 stockpersons from a single farm to perform euthanasia and applied the same seven weight classes to 210 pigs. In all, 97% were effectively euthanized with a single application of the Cash Dispatch Kit. Two sows and five boars in the heaviest weight classes required a second shot, which was sufficient to ensure euthanasia, and can be an alternative to exsanguination (bleeding) or pithing. Restraint of the head through snaring appeared to be important for both efficacy and safety, rather than restraint in a chute or stall.

To learn more, contact Sherrie Webb at or go to and click on the research tab to search.

Post-processing chemical mitigation strategies to control PEDV in feed and ingredients

Principle researcher: Dr Cassandra Jones, Kansas State University

Key points:

•  Medium-chain fatty acids, essential oils, and formaldehyde effectively mitigate post-processing feed-ingredient contamination with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV).

•  A chemical’s success is dependent on the feed matrix, as is PEDV stability over time.

•  The PEDV is more stable in meat and bone meal and spray-dried animal plasma than in blood meal or a complete diet.

Summary: Post-processing contamination of PEDV in feed and feed ingredients is a significant concern to the swine industry. Irradiation and thermal processing have been hypothesized as possible mitigation options, but both are point-in-time solutions. They do not provide residual benefits to prevent potential recontamination or cross-contamination within feed or feed-ingredient manufacturing, transport, or storage. This study aimed to find a possible mitigation strategy to help minimize the threat of PEDV recontamination in feed and feed ingredients. The results suggested that feed or feed ingredients or both can be treated with different chemical treatments as a means to mitigate PEDV contamination. Importantly, the success of various chemical mitigants was dependent upon the feed matrix, and PEDV stability over time also was matrix-dependent. The PEDV was more stable in meat and bone meal and spray-dried animal plasma than in blood meal or a complete swine diet. Ultimately, this research helps provide potential solutions to mitigate PEDV infectivity when transmitted by feed, and thereby ultimately lessens PEDV-associated losses to the swine industry.

To learn more, contact Lisa Becton at or 515-223-2791.

Impact of temperature and time in pelleted diets on PEDV survivability in complete diets

Principle researcher: Dr Jason Woodworth, Kansas State University

Key points:

•  Feed can be a vehicle for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) transmission.

•  The minimum infectious dose of PEDV is equivalent to 1 gram of infected pig feces diluted in approximately 500 tons of feed.

•  The pelleting process used in many commercial mills can act as a point-in-time mitigation step in PEDV-associated risk prevention plans.

Summary: Since late January 2014, suspicion grew that porcine epidemic diarrhea outbreaks may have been associated with consumption of PEDV-positive feed or feed ingredients. However, there was a lack of information to confirm feed as a PEDV vector. Also, there was no available data describing the minimum infectious dose of PEDV in a feed matrix. Additionally, it was believed that the normal temperature and retention times used by commercial pellet mills would adequately mitigate PEDV infectivity; however, no research had tested this hypothesis. Therefore, our goals were to determine the minimum infectious dose of PEDV in a feed matrix and to determine whether the retention time and temperatures used in commercial pellet mills influence PEDV infectivity. Our results confirmed that feed can be a vehicle for PEDV transmission and that the minimum infectious dose of PEDV in a feed matrix is quite low. A PEDV dose corresponding to a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cycle-threshold value of 37 was low enough to lead to infectivity. The pelleting process used in many commercial mills can act as a point-in-time mitigation step in PEDV-associated risk prevention plans. None of the virus-inoculated, processed feeds lead to infectivity in the pig bioassay model, even though the PCR analysis showed that PEDV RNA was present in the processed feed. In contrast, the non-processed feed led to PEDV infectivity.

To learn more, contact Lisa Becton at or 515-223-2791.

National Pork Board creates innovation team focused on food-chain outreach

Consistent with the National Pork Board’s 5-year strategic plan to build consumer trust and grow consumer demand, the organization is updating its food-chain outreach structure. These changes will allow the National Pork Board to be even more effective in collaborating with channel partners in a focused effort to stimulate pork demand. “Our strategic plan defines a blueprint for industry success by addressing the changing world facing US pork producers,” said Derrick Sleezer, president of the National Pork Board and a producer from Cherokee, Iowa. “Our marketing effort taps into the emotional connections consumers have with their food and will fuel a fresh dialogue about modern pork production and continuous improvement for the benefit of people, pigs, and the planet.” Toward that end, the National Pork Board implemented the following staff changes:

•  Jarrod Sutton is named vice president of channel marketing, innovation and social responsibility.

•  Patrick Fleming is named director of market intelligence and innovation.

•  Rob Kirchofer is named director of retail marketing and innovation.

•  Stephen Gerike is named director of foodservice marketing and innovation.

•  Ceci Snyder will continue to lead domestic marketing, advertising and public relations programs as vice president of consumer marketing.

•  Stacie Schafer is named director of state marketing and consumer insight.

The National Pork Board plans to expand efforts in product innovation this year to grow consumer demand. This effort will be supported by consumer research, market data analysis and channel insights, product design, market testing, channel marketing, and channel communications. “We’re very excited about this new direction in leadership within our organization,” said Sleezer. “These changes will allow us to have greater focus and efficiency as we work with our foodservice and retail partners to increase pork demand.” 

For more information, contact Jill Criss at or 515-223-2636.

Checkoff creates Antibiotic Resource Center

In light of the final rule for the Veterinary Feed Directive as outlined in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Guidance 213, the Pork Checkoff has created a one-stop Antibiotic Resource Center on its main Web site at It provides easy access to recent news on the subject, fact sheets, links to Pork Quality Assurance Plus, FDA links, and more.

For more information, go to the Pork Checkoff Antibiotic Resource Center located at

National Pork Board adopts three-pronged antibiotic stewardship plan

Building on its years of supporting responsible antibiotic use, the National Pork Board has adopted a three-pronged, new antibiotic stewardship plan that is proactive, collaborative, and aggressive in its strategy and scope. Using education, research, and communication tactics, the plan will ultimately work for the betterment of people, pigs, and the planet.

The National Pork Board will lead the industry in adjusting to the phase-out of growth-promotion uses of medically important antibiotics and embracing increased veterinary oversight of antibiotic use on the farm. Although the federal government’s initiatives on antibiotics poses new challenges for the industry, US pig farmers pledge to go above and beyond compliance, because they are committed to continuous improvement to ensure responsible antibiotic use on the farm.

To help producers achieve this goal, the National Pork Board will continue to implement a comprehensive plan that helps to guide and support the responsible use of antibiotics. As always, the longstanding Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program will serve as the centerpiece of this effort. In fact, the certification program is currently being revised and expanded to reflect the latest federal guidance on antibiotics that will include veterinary oversight and maintenance of current medical records on the farm.

Additional efforts will include the ongoing collaboration with allied-industry partners, suppliers, and regulatory agencies to help assure that antibiotics that are needed for animal health remain in place and are used under veterinary oversight as called for in the industry guidance.

As always, the National Pork Board’s overarching goal is to serve and protect pig health and promote food safety. Healthy animals make for safer food. The execution of this plan will help America’s pork producers keep that promise.

National Pork Board’s three-pronged antibiotic stewardship plan

1.  Education

•  The pork industry will work closely with allied partners, including swine veterinarians, feed organizations, breed associations and show-pig groups, animal-health companies, and associated commodity groups to collaborate and develop educational materials for our more than 60,000 pork producers and the academic and swine veterinarian community about the new FDA regulations and antibiotic stewardship.

•  We will revise and give added emphasis to antibiotic stewardship in the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program (PQA Plus is the pork industry’s certification program for best practices on swine health and welfare, public health and worker health, and environmental sustainability.) This action will ensure America’s pork producers understand the importance of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship and are prepared for implementation of the new changes to antibiotic use.

•  Throughout 2016, the National Pork Board will use a mix of paid and earned media opportunities to help educate farmers about FDA’s new rules and the steps required for compliance.

•  Collaboration and investment with like-minded organizations will help increase the reach and frequency of educational messages on antibiotics.

2.  Research

•  The National Pork Board will make antimicrobial use and resistance a top research priority in our 2016 budget. Since 2000, the Pork Checkoff has invested $5.3 million in research on the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance, as well as efforts to define alternatives to antimicrobial use. We will invest close to a million dollars of new money in additional research in 2016.

•  We will identify specific risk assessments to better understand the relationship between antimicrobial use in pork production and bacterial resistance. This research will augment past studies of interventions and alternatives with the goal of reducing the need for antibiotics.

•  In addition to our existing producer committee of experts, we will convene a blue-ribbon task force of nationally recognized experts specifically focused on antibiotic use and resistance. This task force’s goal will be to objectively review and provide recommendations to Pork Checkoff policies and programs.

•  We will continue to work closely with federal agencies and other commodity-group partners to research and identify models and metrics that will provide value to the pork industry for continual improvement of antibiotic use practices.

3.  Communication outreach

•  Communication regarding antibiotics will continue to be a main emphasis for the National Pork Board to all parts of the pork chain with special emphasis on pig farmers and the upcoming new FDA rules.

•  Pork Checkoff publications include a quarterly magazine, monthly newsletters, research e-newsletters, Web-based articles, fact sheets, (Antibiotics Resource Center), radio broadcasts, online videos, social media, and more.

•  The National Pork Board will continue to proactively work with all national and international media that are interested in US pork production to serve as a resource about how US pig farmers use antibiotics responsibly.

•  The National Pork Board will continue to share the progress of our industry with retailers and food-service companies who are interested in antibiotic use in pork production and respond to provide credible responses to their inquiries.

•  Ongoing outreach will continue with all state pork associations that will help amplify all antibiotic news and information to farmers and state-level allied industries.

•  Collaboration will continue with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Feed Industry Association, land-grant universities, and others. All will serve to coordinate and multiply the National Pork Board’s communications efforts.

For more information, contact John Johnson at or 515-223-2765.