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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
March 8, 2010
In this issue:
  Congrats Dale! Then Down to Business
  Gilt Development is Key to Increasing Pigs Weaned per Sow
  Free Trade Agreements the Ticket to More Agricultural Exports
  Modified Gestation Stalls Improve Sow Well-Being

Congrats Dale! Then Down to Business
Before I get to this week’s topic, I must take a moment to congratulate National Hog Farmer and Weekly Preview Editor Dale Miller for his receiving the Pork Checkoff’s 2010 Distinguished Service Award. The award is given annually to recognize the lifelong contribution of an outstanding leader to the pork industry. The ceremony and presentation Saturday night at the National Pork Forum in Kansas City highlighted Dale’s many contributions that include playing a vital role in technology dissemination and adoption.

But the real focal point of Saturday’s ceremony was the value that Dale puts on people and I can vouch for that. I’ve known Dale since the early 1980s, when we were both much younger men chasing purebred Chester Whites around show rings in various parts of the country. I could see that this guy looked at the pig business in a much broader context than did I and I’ve since learned a lot from him through both personal contact and his prolific writing.

Congratulations, Dale! We appreciate what you have done and what you are still going to do and I am personally very proud to work with you and to call you a friend.


Gilt Development is Key to Increasing Pigs Weaned per Sow
For many years, producers have talked about how a breeding female’s first litter impacts sow lifetime performance. Chart 1 shows Swine Management Services’ (SMS) data from 62 farms, displaying total born by parity. At the outset, the data were sorted by the total born/litter for Parity 1 females into four groups – high (13.56 pigs), medium high (12.48 pigs), medium low (11.48 pigs) and low (10.69 pigs). The average for all farms is indicated by the dashed line in the chart.

The data shows that if gilts have a high total born in their first parity, their lifetime performance is improved. The average total born/litter through all parities was 12.56, with the high average of 13.83, and the low average of 11.35 pigs – a difference of 2.48 pigs/female. The SMS database confirms what previous studies have shown.

There are several management areas that influence total pigs born/litter:


Free Trade Agreements the Ticket to More Agricultural Exports
A group of 57 agricultural organizations sent a letter to Congress supporting President Barack Obama’s initiative to double U.S. exports within five years. The organizations said they believe the most effective means of reaching this goal is for Congress to pass the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has estimated these three FTAs would increase U.S. agricultural exports by $3 billion. The organizations reminded Congress that other countries are not waiting on the U.S. to pass our trade agreements. The letter said, “While the U.S. continues to debate approval of its FTA with South Korea, that country has already concluded, is negotiating or is planning FTAs with the ASEAN (10 countries), Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, the European Union (27 nations), India, Japan, Mexico, Mercosur (four nations), Peru, Pakistan and Russia.” According to the World Trade Organization, there were 230 bilateral or regional trade agreements in place at the end of 2008. The United States was a party to 17 of these agreements. Those organizations signing the letter included American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Grange, National Meat Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, and National Turkey Federation.


Modified Gestation Stalls Improve Sow Well-Being
Slight modifications to sow gestation stalls may provide solutions to one of the most controversial issues facing the swine industry, according to a University of Illinois researcher.

“In the United States, the individual gestation stall is being banned based on perception, not science,” says Janeen Salak-Johnson, associate professor in animal sciences.

A number of companies and large swine operations are in the process of pulling sows out of gestation stalls and moving them to group housing. While group sow housing works, University of Illinois research shows this practice does not answer welfare concerns or improve sow performance.


March 11, 2010: National Swine Nutrition Guide distributed and explained in Owatonna, Minn. The guide consists of nutrition fact sheets, nutrient recommendation tables and diet formulation and evaluation software and will be included with an $80 conference registration or available for purchase separately for $125.

March 15-17, 2010: American Society of Animal Science Midwest Meeting, Polk County Convention Center, Des Moines, IA; contact:

March 16-17, 2010: Second Annual Passion for Pigs Seminar and Trade Show, Holiday Inn Select (Expo Center),
Columbia, MO; contact: Julie Lolli at (660) 651-0570 or

The Strategic Investment Program (SIP) is the primary source of funds for the National Pork Producers Council. As an investor, you will help NPPC fight for reasonable legislation and regulation, develop revenue and market opportunities and protect livelihoods. SIP investors have a voice in NPPC policy development. Learn more.


The news reports announcing the discovery of the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus on April 24, 2009 increased the urgency for proper biosecurity measures in hog operations. Producers continually face the challenge of managing the biosecurity of pigs, people, packages and pests as they redouble efforts to stave off costly swine diseases and retain their access to pork markets in this age of economic uncertainty. Click here for the complete Blueprint archive.

Our breeding technology is delivering what your operation demands, high production results across a wide range of environmental conditions. Count on the industry leader. Go to the trusted source.Click here for more information.


This Month's Focus: Feeding
Gilt Development Program Improves Sow Performance
Early attention to gilt development pays dividends. To ensure that a sow becomes a productive member of the breeding herd requires close attention
Pork Industry Seeks Answers About Fat Quality
Pork producers and packers are concerned about carcass fat quality, but definitive guidelines remain elusive
Effects of Energy Intake on Gilt Development
Performance of energy-restricted and ad libitum-fed gilts were tracked through four parities

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National Hog Farmer offers 10 posters targeting key production areas, offering guidance in critical areas such as feet and leg soundness and reproduction traits soundness in replacement gilts. Others include pig anatomy, heat detection, sow condition, etc. All posters are in English. Select posters are translated to Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.


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