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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Solar Cooling of Sows

Lee Johnston, Professor; Mike Reese (1), Renewable Energy Director; Eric Buchanan (1), Scientist; Kevin Janni (2), Extension Engineer; and Kristen Sharpe (1), Junior Scientist
West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris (1) and University of Minnesota, St. Paul (2)

Over the last couple of years, researchers at the West Central Research and Outreach Center have been involved in a project entitled "Greening of Agriculture". This project focuses on methods to reduce the use of fossil fuels in production agriculture. As a next step in the project, researchers are investigating the use of solar-generated electricity as a way to improve sow performance during the summer by investigating a more effective cooling system. Read more.

Develop Sows to Fill Upcoming Packer Demand

By Diane DeWitte, University of Minnesota Swine Extension Educator

Minnesota swine producers have interesting days ahead of them as several new packer options open up in the next year.  Feed costs are under control, prices have improved, sows are farrowing large litters and it lightens a producer's step on the daily trek to the hog barn.

In the not-so-distant past, we were pleased with 10 pigs per litter weaned at 17 days of age and our pigs weaned/sow/year goal was 22 or 23. Sow genetics continue to improve, and it's common to wean 12-13 pigs per litter and, even at a 25- day weaning age, yield 28-30 pigs weaned/sow/ year. Recent swine studies focus on management practices which can feed the pregnant and lactating sow who will be raising and weaning 13 or more pigs per litter. In addition, research attention is being paid to the birth and weaning weights of these large litters to learn whether the pigs are efficient feed converters and if their carcasses deliver consistent quality pork to the packer. Research investigating the effect of litter size on pigs' pre-weaning growth by Kansas State University found relatively few differences in the variability of pig size at birth through weaning between larger and smaller litters (Bergstrom, et al). North Carolina State University research has shown that low birth weights yield pigs who are less likely to develop a full value carcass when compared to their littermates of average or larger birth weights (Fix, J.S. and See, T.). These results all point back to that all-time favorite production challenge-feeding the sow. But it's not just about feeding the lactating sow.

Manure Impact on Soil Aggregation

By Rick Koelsch, University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Funding support is from North Central Regional Water Network (

If manure increases formation of larger (macro) and more stable soil aggregates, several benefits may result for fields fertilized by manure compared to commercial fertilizer including: reduced runoff and soil erosion; increased water infiltration into the soil possibly leading to greater drought tolerance; and partial offsetting of higher soil P levels resulting from manure application and limiting P loss to local surface water. Continue reading.

Women in Agriculture Network's Summer Tour to Redhead Creamery

Join us for Women in Ag Network's Summer Tour!

Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM - 5:00 PM (includes lunch)
Cost: $30 (Includes lunch, tour and transportation)


10:30 AM - 12:30 PM - Coach bus pick-up and transportation to farm
Pickups at Unviersity of Minnesota Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center (Willmar, MN), St. Cloud Regional Extension office, and Sauk Centre Wal-mart. Exact details to follow to those who register.

12:30 - 1:30 PM - Lunch at Redhead Creamery
1:30 - 4:00 PM - Tour of farm, creamery and family business discussion
4:00 - 5:30 PM - Transportation back to departure points

Registration deadline is August 9, 2017. To register for the event, please visit:

To learn more about Women in Ag Network, please visit:

For questions, please contact:
Betty Berning,, #320-203-6104
Sarah Schieck, #320-235-0726, x2004
Lindsay Mutegi,

Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.                                

Register Now for the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference is a highly regarded and well known livestock nutrition conference in the upper Midwest. For over 75 years, this conference has delivered leading-edge, research-based knowledge to advance sustainable production of beef, dairy, equine, swine and poultry.

Join us for the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference on September 20 - 21, 2017. Details are posted on the conference website including the Program Agenda.

Register now! See Registration Information for detail. Register online by September 15 for early bird pricing. Pre-registration is encouraged. Registration includes Pre-Conference Symposium, General Session, Species Sessions, 2 lunches, 2 continental breakfasts, breaks, reception, and 1 copy of proceedings (flash drive or print).

Get Registered to Attend the Allen D. Leman Conference

The Allen D. Leman Swine Conference is an annual educational event for the global swine industry. It is internationally acclaimed for bringing science-driven solutions to the complex challenges facing the industry. Each year hundreds of participants from over 20 countries attend the Leman Swine Conference held in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Join us for the 2017 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference on September 16 - 19, 2017. Details are posted on the conference website including the conference agenda. Be sure to check out the Pre-Conference Program.

PQA Plus and TQA Certification Classes Coming Up

Are you current with your Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus and/or Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) certification? Upcoming training and certification classes include the following dates:

  • July 19 - Marshall, MN - AmericInn, 1406 E. Lyon St.
  • August 16 - Waseca, MN - Southern Research & Outreach Center, 35838 - 120th St.
  • August 30 - Morris, MN - West Central Research & Outreach Center - 26352 State Hwy 329
  • November 8 - Rochester, MN - MN University Center Rochester, Heintz Center - 1926 College View Rd. SE
PQA Plus certification is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. - noon and TQA from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at all locations.

For more information or to register for a course, go to Minnesota Pork Board website and click on Farmer Resources to view PQA Plus and TQA certification schedule, or contact Colleen ( at MN Pork Board or call 1-800-537-7675.

Recertify for PQA Plus and TQA Online

Do you need to recertify for PQA Plus and/or TQA but a face-to-face training isn't at a convenient location or time for you? You can recertify for PQA Plus and TQA online!

NEW since June 2016 for PQA Plus and NEW since March 2017 for TQA, anyone can complete PQA Plus and TQA certification online. No matter if you are seeking certification for the first time or your certification has expired.

In order to get online training access a person must contact a PQA Plus Advisor or TQA Advisor to be granted access to those respective programs. Your University of Minnesota Swine Extension Educators Sarah Schieck and Diane DeWitte serve as PQA Plus Trainers and TQA Advisors so feel free to reach out to us to gain access to online training for PQA plus and TQA.

Upcoming Events Calendar

July 2017
July 19 - PQA Plus/TQA certification, Marshall, MN

August 2016
Aug. 2 - SowBridge program - "On-Farm Research"
Aug. 3 - PorkBridge program - "On-Farm Research"
Aug. 16 - PQA Plus/TQA certification, Waseca, MN
Aug. 30 - PQA Plus/TQA certification, Morris, MN
Aug. 24 - Sept. 4 - Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, MN

September 2016
Sept. 6 - SowBridge program - "Struggling to get back to pre-PEDv Production"
Sept. 16-19 - Allen D. Leman Conference, Saint Paul RiverCentre, St. Paul, MN
Sept. 20-21 - Minnesota Nutrition Conference, Mankato, MN, City Center Hotel
Sept. 25 - N212 PRRS/PED Elimination meeting @ 6p, Community Center, Prinsburg, MN

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Can Biosecurity Measures Prevent PEDV Transmission?

By Yonghyan Kim, My Yang, Sagar M. Goyal, Maxim C-J. Cheeran, and Montserrat Torremorell University of Minnesota-College of Veterinary Medicine

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is highly contagious.

The 2013 Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus' (PEDV) outbreak in the USA taught the swine industry that the virus is highly contagious. This event forced producers and veterinarians to review and upgrade their biosecurity procedures.

Drs. Torremorell, Cheeran, and Goyal from the University of Minnesota evaluated some of these measures and how they can prevent PEDV transmission.

Read More

Sample and Diagnostic Types for Early Detection of Mycoplasma Hyopneumoniae

By Maria Pieters, Jason Daniels, Albert Rovira
University of Minnesota- College of Veterinary Medicine; Present location: John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 

Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the causative agent enzootic pneumonia, an economically significant disease in pigs. In this study published by Drs. Pieters and Rovira from the University of Minnesota, pigs experimentally inoculated with M.hyopneumoniae were sampled 0, 2, 5, 9, 14, 21 and 28 post-inoculation.

New Extension Swine Educator Joins the Swine Extension Team

In mid-March Diane DeWitte joined the UM Extension Livestock team as an Educator specializing in swine, located at the Mankato Regional Extension office. DeWitte will work with current swine educator Sarah Schieck to provide programming for pork producers across Minnesota.

DeWitte previously served nine years as the University of Minnesota Extension Ag educator in Le Sueur and Blue Earth Counties where she provided livestock & crops education and managed the Master Gardener programs. She is part of the Minnesota Pork Quality Assurance (PQA+ and TQA) training team and is a familiar face teaching PQA+ and TQA certifications to swine producers.

Midwest Farm Energy Conference

The 2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference is scheduled for June 13 - 14, 2017 at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris. The conference will highlight energy efficient systems for Midwest dairies (June 13), as well as for swine production systems (June 14).

Early bird pricing is available until April 1, 2017 and will increase after that. Several registration packages are available for the conference including full conference, single day option, student pricing and the option to attend the keynote dinner only. Visit the registration page for pricing options and to register online.

Women in Ag Workshop

By Betty Berning, UMN Ag Business Management Extension Educator

Women in Agriculture Network (WAGN) will be hosting a farm transition and estate planning program, "Where Do I Begin?", as its next quarterly seminar.

The event takes place June 6, 2017 at the Halstad Legion Recreation Center (580 2nd Ave. West, Halstad, MN 56548). Registration is at 9:00 a.m. with the program running from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. The fee is $20, which covers the cost of lunch. Payment can be made the day of event. To register, please visit:

Learn More

Farm Safety Check: Keeping Children Safe

As spring planting gets underway I thought the below article by UMASH (Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center) was very timely.

Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, 33 children are injured. This is according to the 2017 Childhood Agricultural Injuries Fact Sheet compiled by the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.

Evening PQA Plus Certification to be Held

An evening PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) Plus certification training is planned for June 28 in Mankato, MN.

Time: 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: MN Pork Board Office, 151 Saint Andrews Ct. Ste. 810, Mankato, MN

Pre-registration is requested to Colleen at MN Pork Board at or call 1-800-537-7675.

SAVE THE DATE! 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference

September 20th - 21st plan on attending the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference in its new location at City Center Hotel in Mankato.

Registration will be opening soon.

We are pleased to welcome DuPont as the sponsor of the Pre-conference Symposium with a focus on "Nutrition in the Future."

The theme of this year's General Session is "The Future of Animal Production." The program agenda and speakers will be posted on the conference website soon.

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference is the Upper Midwest's premier forum for communicating leading edge, research-based information to advance nutrition and nutritional management of beef, dairy, equine, poultry and swine.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Floor Space Allowance for Modern Finishing Pigs

By Sarah Schieck, UMN Swine Extension Educator

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and University of Missouri completed a research project evaluating floor space allowances for modern finishing pigs. The main question their research sought to answer is “if old floor space allowances still apply for modern production scenarios?” To answer this question, two experiments were conducted. The main objective of Study 1 was to determine the effects of floor space allowance on growth performance and welfare of pigs throughout the grow-finish period when marketed at an average pen live weight of 300 pounds. The main objective of Study 2 was to determine the effects of floor space allowance on growth performance of pigs weighing 300 pounds.

Read full article.

Efficacy of Three Disinfectants against Senecavirus A on Five Surfaces and at Two Temperatures

Reprinted as posted on UMN Swine Disease Eradication Center's Swine in Minnesota blog

What disinfectant to use against Senecavirus A? Does it vary based on surface type or temperature? These are the questions that a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota - Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are answering in the latest issue of the Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP).

The project tested:
  • 3 disinfectants: household bleach, a phenolic disinfectant and a quaternary ammonium - aldehyde
  • 5 surfaces: aluminum, stainless steel, rubber, cement and plastic
  • 2 temperatures: 25°C (77°F) and 4°C (39°F)

NEW Management Guides for Sow Gestation Management

Recently the National Pork Board released a series of 6 sow housing management guides. University of Minnesota Swine faculty, Lee Johnston and Yuzhi Li were two of the several authors who wrote the guides. On a recent SowBridge session Johnston said, "The guides were developed to help producers manage the gestation housing system they have chosen to use in their respective production systems." The guides can be used as a training tool to educate caretakers on basic animal care skills related to each of the different housing systems. Each guide also includes a management guide, daily observation checklist and troubleshooting scenarios for the respective housing systems.

Swine Production Seminar on March 23 in Okoboji, IA

University of Minnesota Extension is co-sponsoring a swine production seminar along with Iowa State University Extension, Hubbard and Elanco on March 23 at Arrowwood Resort Conference Center (1405 Hwy 71) in Okoboji, IA.

Program highlights include: "Prime Pork. . .Giving New Life to Windom!", "Adapting to Change. . .Who Will Do it Best?", "Managing Pigs in an Unhealthy World" and "Getting Lean in 2017!". The program runs from 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The program is free to attend and includes a noon lunch. Click here for more information and to see the full agenda.

Recap of 2017 Minnesota Pork Congress

University of Minnesota Swine Extension had a presence with members of the Swine Extension team
serving as seminar speakers and engaging with the audience through their booth display and having their 4-State Ventilation Trailer and Biosecure Entry Education Trailer (BEET) on display.

Looking to Become a PQA Plus Advisor?

PQA Plus Advisors are the educators who work directly with producers to educate them on the PQA Plus program and will help producers obtain PQA Plus certification and PQA Plus site status at their respective production sites.

Two PQA Plus Advisor training dates are planned for NEW Advisors:
  • March 15th - 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. , Minnesota Pork Board Office, 151 Saint Andrews Ct., Ste. 810
  • November 15th - 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Worthington Regional Extension Office, 1527 Prairie Drive, Suite A

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Docking the tail or not: Effect on welfare and performance of growing-finishing pigs

By:  Yuzhi Li, UMN Associate Professor of Swine Behavior and Welfare

Tail biting is a common problem in grow-finish pigs. Outbreaks of tail biting can cause major welfare complications of pigs with damaged tails. Because tail docking can cause pain in pigs, performing tail docking on a routine basis is under scrutiny due to animal welfare concerns.

Recently Yuzhi Li, Associate Professor of Swine Behavior and Welfare re-evaluated the consequences of raising pigs without tail docking in a study conducted at the West Central Research and Outreach Center near Morris, MN. Read more.

Solar Panels Power WCROC Swine Barn

By:  Lee Johnston, UMN Professor of Swine Nutrition and Management

Researchers at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) have been involved in a multi-faceted project called the "Greening of Agriculture." The overarching goal of this project is to reduce the reliance of modern production agriculture on fossil fuels. One way to reduce this reliance is to shift energy demand from non-renewable fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Major food companies are asking agriculture producers to move in this direction. Read more.

Confirmed detection of a new porcine circovirus: introducing PCV3

Reprinted as posted on UMN Swine Disease Eradication Center's Swine in Minnesota blog

Recently the Virology journal published a short report confirming the detection of a new porcine circovirus named PCV3. The virus was identified by a team of diagnosticians and researchers from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the U of MN in collaboration with the Blood Systems Research Institute and Department of Laboratory Medicine in San Fransisco.

Check out the full journal article here.

Time to Register for 2017 PorkBridge & SowBridge Programs

Don't have a lot of time to attend a seminar or conference, but are still interested in staying current with new research and management techniques in the pork industry. PorkBridge and SowBridge programs allow managers and employees to increase their knowledge and skills without needing to leave the comfort of their home or farm office. Both programs are distant education programs combining a presentation viewed on a computer with live presentations delivered by teleconference from topic experts at a scheduled time or via a recording if unable to participate during the scheduled time.

The difference in the two programs is the audience they are aimed at.

MN Pork Congress - January 17 & 18

Be sure to visit the University of Minnesota's swine group booth at MN Pork Congress January 17 & 18. MN Pork Congress is an annual event sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A number of seminars are held throughout the 2-day event.

One of the sessions presented by U of M specialists will feature current research that is being done at the University.

University of Minnesota Social at MN Pork Congress

Join fellow CFANS (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) alumni and friends for the annual Alumni Social at MN Pork Congress on Tuesday, January 17th from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with your former classmates and network with CFANS folks in the industry you may have never met. Stop by, try some meat and cheese from CFANS's Meat Lab and Dairy Store, and spend time with friends new and old. Be sure to join the Facebook event. Details of the social can be found on the CFANS Alumni website. Be sure to RSVP if you are able to make it.
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