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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
November 1, 2010
In this issue:
  Canadian Cutbacks Slow
  Rotavirus – An Ongoing Challenge to Young Pigs
  Remember to Vote
  Animal Welfare Symposium Targeted for Nov. 30, 2010

Canadian Cutbacks Slow
Canada’s hog herd continues to shrink, but at a slower and slower rate, according the the quarterly Hog Statistics report released last week by Statistics Canada.

Canada’s breeding herd numbered 1.298 million head on Oct.1. That is 3.8% lower than one year ago and the first time since April 1,1998, that Canada had less than 1.3 million head of breeding swine on farms. The October inventory is also 6,500 head lower than the inventory on July 1, which was slightly larger than the March breeding herd.

The decline brings the combined Canada-U.S. breeding herd on Oct. 1 and Sept.1, respectively, to 7.068 million head, down 2.2% from last year. That herd is the smallest on record and is very likely the smallest since sometime before the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

But Canada’s “all others” inventories (e.g., market hogs) continue to get closer and closer to year-ago levels (Figure 1). There were 10.556 million head of market pigs on Canadian farms on Oct.1, only 0.5% lower than last year. The number of pigs weighing over 132 lb. (60 kg) was 2.5% larger than last year. That marks the third straight quarter in which finishing hog inventories have been larger than a year earlier – and that is in spite of lighter weight inventories that continue to run 2-3% lower than year-ago levels.


Rotavirus – An Ongoing Challenge to Young Pigs
Rotavirus is a disease agent that all pigs are repeatedly exposed to early in life. The virus can cause gastroenteritis in pigs that ranges in severity from severe to subclinical.

There are many different strains of the virus. Pigs can be infected and potentially be made ill from rotavirus multiple times because there is poor cross-protection among different strains of the virus. Therefore, immunity against one strain doesn’t necessarily protect against another.

A group of researchers at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, led by Dr. Kurt Rossow and Doug Marthaler, developed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect the three most common rotavirus groups circulating in pigs. Designated Group A, B or C, these tests have been used for testing diagnostic cases over the past 15 months. Figure 1 summarizes the distribution of the viruses from these cases.

These data are not necessarily representative of the prevalence of these viruses in pigs, generally. However, the graphs illustrate a trend in prevalence by rotavirus group among the various age groups of pigs submitted to our laboratory as enteric disease cases.


Remember to Vote
Everyone in Washington, DC, is focusing on tomorrow’s election. They will be following the election results to determine what the make-up of Congress will be and what messages the voters will send to the administration and Congress. Republicans are expected to gain control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats are expected to maintain control of the Senate by a very small margin. There are over 100 House seats in play going into the election and many are represented by members of the House Agricultural Committee. Historically, there are only 20-30 seats in play at this time. A number of Senate seats are also considered toss-ups. They include Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia. Both parties are placing a great deal of attention on Nevada where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is battling for reelection against Sharon Angle. We can expect some upsets and surprises on Election Day. Next week’s column will include an election wrap-up and what it means for agriculture.


Animal Welfare Symposium Targeted for Nov. 30, 2010
The handling of disabled or non-ambulatory animals and euthanasia are two emerging issues for the livestock industry that will be addressed at the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium, Nov. 30, 2010 at the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in Columbus, OH.

Featured speaker is Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and well-known animal-handling expert, who will explain how to humanely handle farm animals, including handling of ill, injured, non-ambulatory or compromised animals. There will be an extended time period available for questions and answers.

Jan Shearer, professor and dairy Extension veterinarian at Iowa State University, will review proper methods of euthanasia and when euthanasia should occur.


Nov. 4, 2010: : Compost Workshop, Illinois State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL
for more information contact: Randy Fonner at or Mike Rahe at

Nov. 4-5, 2010: : Iowa State University Swine Disease Conference for Swine Practitioners, Scheman Building, Iowa State University
Ames, IA
for more information contact:Julie Kieffer at or(515) 956-3201.

Nov. 11-17, 2010: United States Animal Health Association and American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians Annual Meeting, Minneapolis Hilton Hotel
Minneapolis, MN
for more information contact: or

The proposed USDA GIPSA ruling will impact contract terms, restrict marketing arrangements, create legal uncertainty and limit the ability to negotiate prices — a recipe for chaos for U.S. pork producers. Click here to send comments to GIPSA.


As positive margins return to pork producers’ ledgers, owners and managers are recounting the hard lessons learned as they redouble efforts to improve risk management skills, measure and manage production variance with greater precision, and produce quality pork in a safe and sustainable manner. At the heart of the 50th edition in the Blueprint series, published April 15th, 2010, is a focus on new and improved pathways to profitability.



The October 15 Blueprint edition of National Hog Farmer provides guidelines for building a sound replacement gilt program, including nutritional considerations to maximize genetic potential and the importance of an effective herd health management program. In addition, the issue offers a special section on screening replacement gilt candidates for skeletal and reproductive soundness.



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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The proposed USDA GIPSA ruling will have a significant impact on pork producers. From stifling industry innovation and flexibility to driving costs higher while pushing down prices, the effects will be far-reaching. NPPC encourages you to voice your concerns about the GIPSA rule click here — to send your comments.

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