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:

Raised Without Antibiotics: Analyzing the Impact to Biologic and Economic Performance

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on July 3, 2018 | No Comments

Author: Clayton Johnston

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018


Concern for antibiotic resistance has lead to an expected decrease in antibiotic use in animal agriculture. RWA (raised without antibiotics) is a certification developed to ensure consumers the animals products they are consuming have been produced without the use of antibiotics.

Products produced antibiotic free have a premium placed on them, however it is important that producers compare the cost to production with potential revenues to calculate the impact to net profit.

Cost Estimates: Cost estimates are specific to the genotypes, nutritional programs, and process in which the transition from conventional to RWA was made. Studies have estimated that switching to RWA would result in approximately $4.40/CWT increase over 14 months. This price increase is due to decreased ADG in nursery, decreased F:G and increased mortality rate.

Revenue Impact Estimates: Most producers that have high health herds market 75-85% of pigs into RWA market, and the other 15-25% not meeting RWA standards.

A partial budget can be developed to evaluate financial effect. It is calculated through examining added income and costs as well as reduced costs and income. If the outcome is negative, it indicates a change will reduce producer profits. A positive outcome indicates that the change will increase producer profits.

Other considerations: Precision agriculture principles need to be employed to reduce antibiotic use, as precautionary measures when using antibiotics will no longer be applicable.

Raised Without Antibiotics

Avoiding Landmines Converting to Loose Sow Housing

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

Author: Mark Fynn

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017


Considerations when converting barns to loose sow housing:

1. Slatted flooring: Slatted flooring posses challenges to gilts and sows, especially in groups. As a result, it is suggested to use bedded flooring or partially slatted flooring. Research has demonstrated that when utilizing slatted flooring there are ideal sizes for the gap: between 0.75-1 inch. As smaller than 0.75 has negative implications for drainage and greater than 1 inch affects foot health.

2. Clean(er) pens: Loose sow housing can be an issue because pens are chronically dirty. To overcome this in partially slatted barns make specific areas more comfortable for resting as they will not defecate there.  This can be done by having solid flooring or bedding, keeping the area dry, reducing draft, and having walls for them to rest against.

3. Escape Features: Submissive sows need to be given the opportunity to escape from aggressive sows as some aggression is unavoidable. In a mixed parity group space allowance should be at least 19 feet per animal. Partitions allow the sows to escape, as well as passageways that create circular traffic flow. Tight spaces should also be reduced, as they hinder a submissive sows ability to escape.

4. Space: All walls an obstacles should have at least 10 feet between them to allow a sow to escape from another sow. Passageways should be at least 8 feet wide, although 10 feet is still recommended.

5. Best Management Practices:

  • Sow mixing should occur at a time that is not critical to embryo implantation (7-28 days post breeding, after breeding and heat, or around 28 to 35 days post-breeding).
  • Keeping sows in stable (static) groups, dynamic can occur however with more oversight and management strategies
  • Sorting animals into size and parity when possible
  • Consideration of pen condition

6. Preventing feeding time competition: Use of ESF or free-access ESF can reduce competition. Ensure optimal space at entry of ESF.

Avoiding Landmines Converting

Canadian Alternatives for Dietary Antibiotics as Growth Promotants

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Authors: Martin Nyachoti and Hossain Manik

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017

Summary: Although feed antibiotics have aided in production there is movement to reduce and eliminate the use of antibiotics in feed due to various risks. These risks include risks to human health. As a result a plethora of products have been produced to replace antibiotic use, all of which have varying degrees of effectiveness.

Canadian alternatives that have been developed include:

  • Egg yolk antibiotics
  • Raw potato starch
  • Pre- and probiotics
  • Organic acids
  • Feed enzymes
  • Lysozyme
  • Plant extracts (phytogenics)
  • Use of low crude protein diets

Egg yolk antibiotics: Egg yolk antibiotics are produced in response to a specific antigen. There is variability in effectiveness, which is a result of many factors such as low gut pH and breakdown from pepsin digestion.

Raw potato starch: Studies have displayed raw potato starch to have potential to be an alternative to antibiotics in piglets to control post-weaning diarrhea.

Pre- and probiotics: Have been displayed to positively influence growth performance, nutrient digestibility, immunity, intestinal, fecal microbiota and diarrhea score in pigs.

Organic Acids: Through studies organic acids have been shown to be effective. They have become accepted alternatives to antibiotics as growth promoters in swine. They inhibit gut infections and improve the population of beneficial bacterial. They also improve nutrient digestibility and growth performance.

Feed Enzymes: Enzyme breakdown products have been displayed to maintain gut barrier function during the presence of an E.coli infection. They contribute to robust pigs through possibly eliminating dietary compound and anti nutritional factors which interfere with nutrient utilization.

Lysozyme: In an antibiotic free diet, lysozyme has displayed positive indicators of gut health, resulting in a decreased population of pathogenic bacteria.

Plant Extracts: Beneficial effects include: improvement of growth parameters, immunity and gut microbial balance in swine. There has been limited studies revolving around the implications of medicinal effects of plants in animal diets, however the studies completed do have positive outcomes.

Canadian Alternatives for Dietary Antibiotics

Electronic Sow Feeding Experience

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

Author: Kevin D Stuckey

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2017


Cooper Farms has gone through the process of opening two barns that are pen gestation units. When looking at options for feeding systems they chose to use Electronic Sow Feeding (ESF) stations, as they felt it gave them the best opportunity to individual feed the sows and decrease aggression.

They have opened two operations, Fox Tail a 2,500 head operation and Pheasant Run which is a 5,000 head operation. Fox Tail was the first operation, which was built between 2012-2013. In this system they utilized post implantation static pens for the sows and dynamic flow for gilts.

Pheasant Run was opened in 2016, continuing with the same basic concepts as Fox Tail. They still utilized post-implantation static pens for the sows and dynamic flow for the gilts. Pheasant run was able to learn from the struggles of Fox Tail. One aspect that was more focused on was gilt training. The facility spent more time training people to train gilts.

Looking forward for Cooper Farms, the next farm they build will still utilize electronic sow feeding. They are looking into technology such as pedometers – which are used in the dairy industry. Pedometers track steps, increased steps are an indication that they sow is cycling and decreased steps is an indication that something is wrong.

One issue the company has struggled with is management, initially they wanted to incorporate inexperienced management that would be more accepting of the ESF. However, they have learned that knowledge of running a sow operation is an asset.

Electronic Sow Feeding Experiences

Piglet Livability as KPI & How to Influence

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by student on June 29, 2018 | No Comments

Author: A.A.M. van Wesel, M. van den Bosch

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018


Livability is a characteristic that defines the piglets quality of life. It is calculated by:

Livability = 100% – ((#stillborn + #preweaning mortality)/ total born))

Preweaning piglet mortality is estimated to be between 12 -15%, with many factors influencing the mortality rate. Piglet livability is a multi-factorial characteristic involving:

  • Colostrum intake
  • Suckling behavior
  • Body condition of the sow
  • Vascularization of the placenta
  • Duration of farrowing process
  • Oxygen supply before and during the birthing process

The characteristics listed above are only a few, there are many other contributors to piglet livability.

Research has focused on nutritional strategies to aid in increasing the livability of piglets. There are three main areas where nutritional intervention has influence on piglets:

1) Period from estrus to embryonic implantation

2) Period around farrowing

3) Neonatal piglet from a few days to post farrowing to weaning

At the time of weaning, antioxidant concepts have been displayed to be effective in increasing piglet birth weight as well as piglet weight at the time of weaning. There is a correlation between the sow’s stool hardness and quantity of still births. In order to mitigate this issue it is recommended that feeds be formulated with the right amount of fiber.

LivapigTM is a patent pending the utilizes the same concept as athletes consuming red beetroot juice. Nitric oxide is increased in the sows blood a few days before farrowing, resulting in an overall increase in piglet livability of 1.5% through the course of this trial.

Piglet livability is important for both the economics of the facility, but also for the overall welfare of the animals. Increasing livability can be done through nutritional strategies. These strategies should be aimed at increasing piglet birth weight.

Piglet Livability as KPI and How to Influence

I’m Farming and I Grow It

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

Author: Greg Peterson

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: Agricultural advocacy is an important topic in modern day society with special importance on rectifying misconstrued information. Recently, the Peterson Brothers decided to take agricultural advocacy to another platform. The brothers developed parody music videos posting them to YouTube as a way to reach many people. The videos have been very popular being viewed over 50 million times in 200 countries.


I’m Farming and I Grow it

Impacts of Lameness, Longevity & Inflammation on Productivity & Management of the Sow Herd

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

Author: Mark E. Wilson Ph.D., Zach J. Rambo, Ph.D., and Melanie K. Beckam, MS.

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: There are many underlying causes of lameness including: poor skeletal structure, claw lesions, inferior environmental conditions, diseases such as osteochondrosis or mycoplasma hyosynoviae, and improper handling. In swine production, the overall goal is to improve production in hopes of mitigating the effects and decrease the overall amount of lameness. The focus of this article is the implications of different types of minerals on overall claw tissue.

There are large production implications with lame sows as they have a tendency to decrease feed intake, have poor milk production, increased number of laid on piglets, poor performance of progeny in grow-finish, and a higher percentage of death loss.

In a study conducted by Anil et al. (2009) it was determined that claw lesions and lameness were reduced by adding Zn, Mn, and Cu to the diet. Lameness is one of the greatest reasons for sows culled in their reproductive stages. This has large implications for overall production as longevity has a large economic value. Gilts have smaller piglets as well as decreased IgG production compared to multiparous sows.

Amino acid complex materials assist in supporting the immune system. This helps corium and horn tissue proliferate and heal, speeding up the process of healing for claw lesions. In addition to the diet, environmental conditions also play a role in lameness in sows. Things that should be considered for optimal sow health are the flooring conditions, sow movement and handling, and sow structure. Including metal amino acid complexes is a great starting point for mitigating lameness.

Impacts of lameness

Finding New Technologies in the Pork Industry: Towards Precision Farming or Just High-Tech Hype?

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

Author: Lee Whittington

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceeding 2018


Precision farming is a term that is used to describe agricultural production that utilizes the collection of data in the field and use of expensive inputs to improve net income, reduce waste and impact on the environment, and speed decisions. Technology advancements are largely based on lower-cost data collection devices.

Some of these technologies begin outside of the barn. Such examples are Geofencing and syndromic health surveillance. These technologies utilize satellite technology which draws a fence around the facility to aid in tracking movement. This technology serves as a viable addition for biosecurity protocols. The advantage of utilizing this platform is that it has the ability to create a network for users which can communicate health status. For this technology there is a yearly subscription cost of $300.

Although transportation is necessary, it also posses a substantial risk to on farm biosecurity. Of recent development is technology that aids in instant detection with regards to the hygienic standing of the trailer. Of these technologies is ATP meter swabs. These swabs give an instantaneous read out of “clean” or “dirty” without the downtime that culture swabs require. DrySist is another technology developed by Castene Trailer manufacturing in Spain.Lastly, with regards to trailers is traceability. Recent technology inserts a GPS chip that allows the vehicle to be tracked.

Technology that aids production within the barn includes recordkeeping services such as PigChamp Pro Europa, costing $6 USD per 20kg weaned pig produced. There is also a commercially available digital pen which allows a pen and paper solution to expensive digital phones. Vetic, developed in Spain, will provide complete traceability of injectibles, by linking pig/pen/room through RFID tags.

Finding New Technologies in the Pork Industry

Canada’s Industry & Regulatory Framework: An ongoing policy initiative to enhance responsible use of Veterinary Antimicrobials

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

Author: Dr. Egan Brockhoff

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar Proceedings 2018

Summary: Canadian law is working to lay a strong framework for regulations surrounding antimicrobials. With regards to the Canadian Pork industry, they have been working closely with stakeholders to ensure that their voices are heard. There has currently been six core regulatory and policy initiatives:

1. Increasing oversight on importance of veterinary drugs (Own Use Importation or OUI)

2. Increasing oversight on importation and quality of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)

3. Mandatory reporting of sales volume from manufactures and importers to support antimicrobial use surveillance

4. Facilitating access to low risk veterinary health products (VHPs), as additional tools for the maintenance of animal health and welfare

5. Removing growth promotion claims from medically-important antimicrobials (MIAs)

6. Increasing veterinary oversight over all MIAs (Prescription status switch)

Regulation came into play on November 13th, 2017, which prohibits importation of drugs not approved in Canada other than products that represent an acceptable risk to food safety and public health. These products will be maintained on “List B” by Health Canada and will follow specific criteria.

Currently there are no provision associated with low risk veterinary health products.  VHPs will be specified for a special and animal type and will only be able to state that they, “maintain or promote the health and welfare of” the define species.

As of May 17th, 2018 all APIs must be manufactured following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) used in human medicine and manufactures will be required to have a Drug Establishment License (DEL).

*** As of March 31st 2019, all sales data from the previous year must be reported ***

Canadian Industry and Framework

AI Management to Optimize Sow Productivity

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

Author: Dyck M.K., Diether N.E., Patterson J.L., Foxcroft G.R.

Reference: Banff Pork Seminar 2018 Proceedings

Summary: Due to the widespread use of AI technology, boar quality can impact the reproductive performance of many females. The ideal measures for boar semen quality are pregnancy rate and litter size born, both retrospective measures.  As a proactive measure, physical evaluation of the boar’s semen is complete that examines  the concentration, morphology and motility. In addition, the large numbers of semen and semen pooling from multiple boars hides the limited fertility of some boars.

According to Rodriguez-Martinez (2003), in order to accurately predict the quality of the semen it is necessary that they are tested for all of the key attributes. Conventional evaluation of ejaculate measures seminal volume, sperm concentration and the percentage of progressively motile and morphologically normal sperm. These are important characteristics, however they do not define fertility in boars.

Chromosome abnormalities have recently become a factor in boar fertility, Quach et al. (2016) assessed the consequences of chromosome abnormalities. The chromosome abnormalities appeared at a frequency of 12 out of 732 boars consistently displaying lower fertility values.

Post Cervical AI (PCAI)  is an advanced AI technique that allows for the number of sperm used per AI dose to be reduced with out impairing fertility.

When considering new AI technologies in combination of a more through evaluation of boar fertility there are potential economic benefits for the swine industry. Low producing, infertile boars would be able to be eliminated early on.

AI Management to Optimize Sow Productivity



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