News from the National Pork Board
Checkoff holds first Pig Welfare Symposium

The Pork Checkoff hosted the inaugural Pig Welfare Symposium (PWS) in Des Moines, Iowa, November 7 to 9. The agenda focused on general welfare concepts and how they can be applied at the farm level. After the general session, breakout sessions addressed lameness, the Common Swine Industry Audit, pain management, animal handling, euthanasia, and gestation sow housing. Highlights included defining animal welfare, a live consumer panel, international perspectives on emerging issues, and producers sharing their on-farm experiences. In all, 260 people registered for in-person attendance and 44 registered for virtual attendance for the Pig Welfare Symposium. This included producers, academia, veterinarians, packers-processors, allied industry, and NGOs. Sixty of the attendees also each participated in one of three interactive workshops – Common Swine Industry Audit, on-farm euthanasia, and low-stress pig handling. The PWS steering committee has met to start planning the next PWS to be held in 2019.

For more information, contact Dave Pyburn at or call 515-223-2634. Also, recordings of the presentations will be posted on soon.

Checkoff collaborates with China on pig welfare

The National Pork Board recently participated in a joint meeting between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the China Association of the Promotion of International Agricultural Cooperation (CAPIAC). The International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW), a subgroup of the CAPIAC, focused on animal welfare. AASV’s Associate Editor for the Journal of Swine Health and Production, Sherrie Webb, (formerly Checkoff’s director of animal welfare), presented at the conference to share the experiences with PQA Plus and the Common Swine Industry Audit as examples of a continuous improvement tool that helps ensure that animal welfare remains top priority in a large industry. As a mutual sign of collaboration, the secretary general of the ICCAW, Mr Ayoshi, attended the Checkoff’s Pig Welfare Symposium last November and presented a special pre-session discussion about China’s pork industry and its welfare-related issues.

Pig Loss Working Group continues work

The Pork Checkoff’s Animal Science Committee approved using some remaining 2017 research funds toward the pig loss effort. A recent request for proposals focused on sow prolapse causation factors and was distributed to a targeted audience. This resulted in one proposal that the committee funded. The research that began in 2017 should be completed by June 2018. The welfare committee elected to contribute $200,000 of their 2018 budget to this effort. This brings the 2018 total funding for this effort to $1 million. Chris Hostetler has submitted a proposal to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to explore additional supporting funds.

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

Checkoff research: Surveillance changes needed to reflect the impact of on-farm antimicrobial use

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) has long been used to monitor trends in antimicrobial resistance of foodborne bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli. However, NARMS was never designed to correlate on-farm antimicrobial use with resistance trends. Consequently, Checkoff-funded researchers such as Dr Timothy Frana of Iowa State University set out to examine the potential impact of common hog transport practices on the antimicrobial resistance patterns of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E coli post slaughter. They also looked for any differences in the bacterial populations on the basis of prevalence, serotype, or pattern changes. Researchers collected fecal samples from truckloads of 150 or more pigs upon arriving at the packing plant and collected cecum samples post slaughter. They then tested Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E coli isolates for resistance to certain antimicrobials. Of the 1163 isolates collected, 898 (77%) were resistant to at least one antimicrobial tested. However, the samples collected post slaughter did not reflect the resistance patterns identified when pigs arrived at the plant, and therefore are not useful for monitoring on-farm antimicrobial resistance.

For more information, contact Steve Larsen at or call 515-223-2754. You may also search for the related research study on