Pork Insight Articles

 Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Adopting New Technology in Group Sow Housing

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production, Swine Innovation by student on July 25, 2018 | No Comments

Author: John Van Engelen – Hog-Tied Farms Ltd.

Summary: Sow Shower that clean up the sows before putting them into the nice clean farrowing crates. They sows are disinfected and come out with a nice lemon scent.

Mr. Van Engelen has installed Air crates for some of his farrowing crates. There are three “fingers” above the sow, when they sow hits the “fingers” it triggers the crate to rise up about 9 inches. This technology decreases the amount of piglets laid on, it saves approximately 75% of laid on. Of the four crates that he has installed in five years he has had only eight pigs laid on. Although they are advantageous through decreasing laid on piglets, each crate is approximately $1000 extra to install.

Wifi through the barn had to be installed for the farrowing feed system. The wifi aids in keeping people informed, people are capable of seeing how far along the sow is, how much she is eating, have the ability to change her BCS in the system and the diet that she is receiving.

Experimenting with nursery feeders at the moment as he is expanding next year. The two feeders he is experimenting with are a manual and automatic wet/dry feeder. He is finding that they automatic works better, however it does cost the producer $1200 extra to install.

3 way sorters with RFID Technology, pigs are assorted three different ways with the light pigs, medium pigs and heavy pigs all being separated.

Pig Performance Tester, installed in 2013. Records feed intake and weight.

Sow Nutrition in Group Housing Systems

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production, Swine Innovation by student on | No Comments

Speaker: Dr. Hyatt Frobose


Increase in protein deposition over the course of gestation, later in gestation have an increased protein due to increase in mammary development. Three main components to energy are: maintenance, target maternal BW gain, and fetal development. Have to adjust basal requirement due to a variety of factors including: environmental temperature, housing system, health status and sow size (different parities).

There are broad categories of feeding systems, competitive and non competitive feeding systems. Aggression can have consequences such as an increased mortality rate, removals (due to lame or aborts), have to assume that all the sows are eating, and due to variation in body condition score potentially need to overfeed the group.

Over conditioned sows are costly because they are wasting feed and they have decreased productivity in the subsequent lactation. Common causes of over conditioned sows are overfeeding an entire pen to improve BCS of thin sows, not calibrating ESF, and improper staff training with regards to BCS.

Try to identify “non-eaters” quickly and move them to a relief pen.

Increasing inclusion of fibre helps to increase satiety and decrease aggression. However, variability in nutrients is significant in high fibre diets. There is also a greater risk of mycotoxin contamination in feeding high fibre diets.

Bump Feeding: traditionally, showed that sows had higher birth weights. However, most of the recent data shows that there is a limited to no benefit from pump feeding.

Parity Specific Diets – most diets are formulated to meet the requirements of gilts as they have higher amino acid and calcium requirements than older sows. Opportunity exists to save on the older sows as we can feed a diet that is more sync with their requirements, rather than overfeeding amino acids.

Prairie Swine Group Housing Jennifer Brown

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production, Swine Innovation by student on July 20, 2018 | No Comments

Speaker: Jennifer Brown, Research Scientist – Ethology


Ethology is the field of animal behavior, Dr. Brown’s work tries to understand what motivates a sow, and pigs in general, to do what they do and how to translate this into management practices.

Social Interaction and Aggression in Sows

Previously animal management has occurred in stalls, new management practices will require more husbandry skills. It is evident that there are two main issues that aggression occurs in sows:

  1.  Mixing aggression: first 24-48 hours. Fighting occurs to establish their social status.
  2.  Ongoing aggression: occurs after social order has been established

Management that can help reduce aggression in sows revolves around familiarity, previous experience, genetics, pen design, feeding, odour, group size/composition, and time of day.

There are four main feeding systems:

  1. Floor feeding
  2. Shoulder stalls
  3. ESF
  4. Free-Access Stalls

The style of feeding system will strongly influence the group size. Feeding systems that are competitive work better with a smaller group size, whereas a noncompetitive feeding system allows are larger group size.

Space Allowance:

Space costs money, therefor it is important to determine what the break point is where the sows are experiencing adverse effects.  The Code of Practice outlines recommendations regarding minimum space allowance for both gilts and sows. Smaller groups require larger allowances than larger groups as there is not as much shared space.

Pen design is critical and it is important to consider space allowance, feeders and drinkers (location and ratio), layout and separation of dunging, feeding and resting areas.

Building New or Renovation: What to Consider

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Swine Innovation by student on | No Comments

Author: Murray Elliot


Swine Innovation Porc and Prairie Swine Center collaborated to hold meetings in both Manitoba and Alberta to aid hog producers on what to consider when making expansion plans.

“The focus is really to help people have a look at their current facilities. It can incorporate plans of what they hope to do in the future and to put those two together to make a facility that meets the new code of practices and meets current production today” – Murray Elliot

Pork producers are asking themselves whether they should be building new or renovate due to the 2024 codes of practice that they will need to implement. Although building from scratch is advantageous allowing hog farmers to develop exactly what they want the cost is generally much greater.

When completely rebuilding producers must adhere to the new codes and all of the minimum distances, however when renovating often the producer is grandfathered in. If the facility is in good shape it can generally be renovated at half the cost of completely rebuilding. However, with the new codes most herds do not fit into the old buildings, so most renovations turn into a renovation and an addition.


Hog Market Outlook and Pricing Methods

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on | No Comments

Author: Ronald L. Plain

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018


2018 is the third consecutive year with an outlook of record number of hogs slaughtered, as a result hog prices are likely to average slightly below the breakeven level. Growth in the U.S. ethanol market resulted in increased grain prices between 2006-2013. Increased grain prices resulted in increased financial stress for livestock and pork producers. In 2014 and 2016, feed prices were reduced and PED virus resulted in a reduced hog slaughter. These in combination resulted in record high hog prices.

Using numbers supplied by USDA, hog slaughter will be above 125 million head which is 3% up from 2017. It is expected that both Canada and the U.S. will export a greater amount of pork in 2018.

The Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999 has the requirement for large packers to provide the USDA with detailed information regarding the hogs they have bought. When purchasing barrows/gilts there are several categories the purchase could be split into:

  • Packer sold
  • Packer owned
  • Negotiated
  • Market Formula
  • Other market formula
  • Other purchase agreement
  • Live weight priced
  • Non-MPR hogs

Since 2002, there has been a significant decline in negotiated sales, with an increase being with packer owned hogs.

Hog Market Outlook and Pricing Methods


Performance response of piglets to acid-preserved, high-moisture wheat

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by Ken Engele on July 19, 2018 | No Comments

One objective of this trial was to determine the effectiveness of feeding acid-preserved, high moisture wheat as an alternative to directly supplementing acid to the wheat diet of weanling pigs. Acidification of wheat with propionic acid resulted in a significant improvement in feed efficiency (G:F) in pigs on days 8 to 21 after weaning, regardless of the method of application. This improvement occurred by contrast to the non-acid control and to diets containing phosphoric acid. So feeding acid-preserved wheat using propionic acid (APW-Prop) had comparable performance with pigs fed acidified diets using propionic acid (AD-Prop).

High Moisture Wheat

Results & Perspectives about Automated Water Intake Recording, Infrared Thermography & Vision Systems

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on July 17, 2018 | No Comments

Author: Frederic Fortin

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: “Swine Cluster 2: Generating Results Through Innovation” is a research program designed to develop and test new technologies that could prove beneficial to the swine industry. As a result they have tested a variety of technologies including:

  •  Recording and analyzing individual water intake during grow-finish phase
  • Infrared cameras to capture individual and grouped pig images corresponding to heat emissions on the skins surface
  • Different vision systems to evaluate weight and conformation
  • Different tracking systems to assess pig’s behavior

Each of these are described in detail in the article below

 Results and Perspectives about Automated Water Intake Recording..

Animal Welfare, Animal Rights: What’s the Difference?

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on | No Comments

Author: Geraldine Auston

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017


“Protecting an animal’s welfare involves providing for its physical and mental needs. Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animals well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.” – American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

The Five Freedoms:

1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst

2. Freedom from Discomfort

3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease

4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior

5. Freedom from Fear and Distress


“Animal rights means that animal;s deserve certain kinds of consideration – consideration of what is in their best interests, regardless of whether they are “cute”, useful to humans, or an endangered species and regardless of whether any human cares about them at all. It means recognizing that animals are not our to use – for food, clothing, entertainment or experimentation.”  – The Vegetarian Resource Group



What can you do to minimize challenges caused by animal rights groups?

  • Utilize a animal care code of conduct
  • Consider people’s temperament and how they will work with animals when hiring them
  • Continually train
  • Establish a reporting system that allows employees to express animal welfare concerns
  • Document incidents

Livestock transport is a focus of animal rights protestors, how can an individual respond to an incident like this?

  •  Establish communication with the plant
  • Act as if you are being filmed as it is likely you are
  • Stay inside the truck if activists are too close hindering safely continuing
  • Do not engage with activists, conversation of physical
  • Avoid horn utilization
  • Move truck ahead once you have verified it is safe to do so
  • If protesters approach again, warn them and contact the police
  • If you feel threatened contact the police

 Animal Welfare, Animal Rights

When the Headline is YOU

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles by student on | No Comments

Author: Jeff Ansell

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018


Knowing how to properly answer difficult questions can pose a challenge to even the most skillful of speakers. Jeff Ansell is a communications expert who has a proven process to  successfully manage media encounters. His process includes:

  •  Creating compelling messages
  • Responding to difficult questions
  • and how to frame negative news

When the Headline is You

Transition to Antibiotic-Free Production: On Farm Management Strategies

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on | No Comments

Author: Greg Wideman, DVM

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: Antimicrobial-free is growing in demand as concern for the interplay between antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance is expressed. As a result, South West Vets’ has made it their objective to best equip their clients to raise antibiotic free pigs.

Good data management and performance monitoring systems include:

  • Simple and up to date
  • Accurate
  • Web-based, which allows for the entire production team to access
  • Time period closeouts
  • Ability to follow “treated” and “program” pigs
  • Allowing for accurate bench marking when necessary

Essential for an antibiotic free system is the elimination and control of critical diseases. As well, weaning age is an important factor influencing the success of antibiotic free production. It has been demonstrated to manage specific diseases in older weaned pigs.

Daily management that harbors positive results in an antibiotic free system includes:

  •  Colostrum to mitigate early infections
  • Effective fostering protocols that reduced horizontal disease transmission
  • Processing hygiene
  • Iron utilization and monitoring to ensure thrifty pigs are weaned
  • Transport and auditing
  • Individual pig treatment
  • Water quality monitoring and treatment

In addition to all of this, a key factor that can strongly influence the success of an antibiotic free practice is communication.

Transition to Antibiotic-Free Production

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