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Looking Outwards to Strengthen our Pork Industry

By:  Pedro E. Urriola, Matt Allerson, and Bob Morrison

Individuals from the University of Minnesota are makingconnections with professionals in China who work in the pork industry by offering the Swine Leman Conference in China. The mission of the Swine Leman Conference is to educate and network with Chinese professionals involved in the pork industry by sharing information regarding latest management, disease, and production technologies of pork production.

Farmers in the United States (US) have being nourishing people for the last century. Corn, soybeans, milk, pork, and poultry products are among the commodities that the US Midwest produces to feed the world. This accomplishment was possible due to geographical location, but most importantly, due to farming and livestock management skills of US farmers. However, population growth and expansion of the middle class will increase the demand for animal derived proteins, especially in developing countries in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Therefore, it is necessary to increase efficiency of animal food production among farmers around the world and all sectors of the food production chain. The mission of the Leman Swine Conference is to connect professionals working in the pork industry (eg. veterinarians, farm managers, nutritionists) between China and the US. Professionals from both sides share information regarding latest management, disease, and production technologies of pork production.

Trade of feed ingredients and management of diseases are 2 areas where a concerted effort can have a large impact on overall food production. In no other commercial relationship is this effort more necessary than between China and the US. The US Midwest produces corn and soybeans which are either utilized locally for human and animal consumption or are exported. Exports of corn and soybean products to China account for a large portion of the US commodity exports. A coordinated effort could help Chinese farmers obtain the most value from the corn and soybean products produced in the US. Another significant challenge is to avoid introduction of foreign diseases into the US herd. The introduction of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV), into naïve herds in the US caused significant losses in productivity between 2012 and 2014.

Swine Leman Conference

The objectives of the Swine Leman Conference in China are 3: to provide of a valuable educational experience to US invited speakers, to provide Chinese veterinarians with science driven solutions to current production and health issues, and to foster communication and collaboration between pork producers and professionals between the US and China. A group of speakers was invited to share information about pork production and their respective areas of study. These experiences were shared with Muyuan Foodstuffs Group (Henan Province, China) and the conference that took place in Nanjing (Henan Province, China). The Muyuan Foodstuffs group has approx. 180,000 sows in production distributed in multiple farms across Central and Southern China. Our speakers toured a farm reviewing health, productivity and profitability.

Rapid expansion was the most significant impression from the visit to the farm of Muyuan group. This expansion is driven by rapid recovery from low pork prices during the past 2 years. Both old and new developments are located in large areas where farrow to finish systems are integrated in the same area. The large and complete cycle systems pose a challenge for disease management, where pathogens circulate between farm population and new introduced pigs. However, newer farms that are under construction will be designed for more appropriate age segregation. The Muyuan Group also wants to make better use of the feed resources. Therefore, they are evaluating the use of newer feed evaluation and distribution systems. These include more dynamic and updated nutritional database, implementation of feed evaluation systems, and addition of multiple phase feeding programs to adjust for feed cost. Itis readily apparent that Chinese pork production is is changing dramatically as the industry restructures and aggressively pursues efficient production practices.

The second stop of the US delegation was the venue for the Swine Leman Conference in the city of Nanjing. The interaction between US and Chinese delegates were extensive and fruitful. High motivation and intense questioning are noticeable evidence of the desire for updated and applied information of the China professionals. A pre-conference workshop was organized by the Carthage Veterinary group where attendees were able to learn about management and control of the porcine respiratory disease complex. The topics of the general session and the breakout session during the main Conference were broad with information from speakers from China and US. Topics included epidemiology and management of diseases such as PRRS and influenza. Management of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the US as well as strategies for control in China were discussed and compared. Disease surveillance and diagnostic methods were shared in the conference. Development of common disease surveillance and diagnostic methods will allow US and Chinese veterinarians to monitor and address disease outbreak coordinately.

Chinese Academies of Agricultural Science and Ministry of Agriculture Feed Industry Center

Feeding a growing population of pigs in a sustainable manner is among the challenges of China because it has limited arable land. Therefore, the Chinese Academies of Agricultural Science (CAAS) and the Ministry of Agriculture Feed Industry Center (MAFIC) have the objective of developing animal feeding programs that allow sustainable growth of animal production. These leading institutions lead the Chinese feed industry with a combination of research and education programs that are managed in collaboration with the Chinese Agriculture University.

Sustainability of animal feeding programs increases with precise and accurate utilization of feed resources. A key step in precision and accuracy is to determine nutrient variability in feed resources and their impact on animal growth and production. Therefore, current research at CAAS from Dr. Feng Zhao focuses on development and standardization of in vitro digestibility system. This automatic computer managed in vitro system is utilized in large feed operations such as Wens Foods and other leading industries. The MAFIC also has multiple laboratories with capacity for analysis and evaluation of feed ingredients as well as development of Net Energy System for China.

Information of research projects at the University of Minnesota were shared with CAAS and MAFIC in 2 seminars. Reciprocally, students at both organizations shared their research topics and key findings from each project. The broadness of topics and science based approach of research in these institutions was shared during seminars and conversations during a tour around both institutions. We at the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota have had the pleasure of training MS and PhD students from the Chinese Agriculture University and look forward to expanding collaboration and sharing information for the development and training of students and science based solutions to the feed industry.

In conclusion, the exchange of information between professionals of the US and Chinese industry is necessary to achieve sustainable global food production. Current and applied information for the rapid growing pork industry in China is supplied by the Swine Leman Conference as well as an opportunity for US professionals to expand their horizons and understand the complexity of a growing country where tradition and modern systems interact closely.
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