Immigration in the Swine Industry: Hiring Foreign-Born Labor

Publish Date: June 1, 2023

Today’s swine industry is more diverse than ever before. As it becomes more difficult to find a local workforce willing and able to work on American hog farms, many producers rely heavily on foreign-born labor, making up approximately 68% of farm personnel across the United States. Immigration is now a cornerstone of pork production, and a basic understanding of the process and regulations are vital for a successful business. This article is meant to introduce the multi-faceted topic of immigration; however, it should not be considered legal advice.

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Maximizing profitability by using the correct marketing strategy

Publish Date: January 2, 2023

An effective swine marketing strategy can help maximize facility utilization and profits for the producer. Producers may choose to market animals on a fixed time or fixed weight basis. Considerations in the decision include the flow of pigs into a facility, the production goals such as final body weight and feed efficiency, the variability of the weights of animals in the facility, the availability of transportation for hogs from the facility, and shackle space at the packing plant. Producers in the U.S. typically market hogs over multiple events toward the end of the finisher period to reduce carcass weight variability. However, this depends on the accuracy of trained individuals sorting hogs and/or the use of automatic sorting technology such as sorting scales or machine learning.

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Vesicular Disease: A persistent cause of Foreign Animal Disease investigation

Publish Date: May 18, 2023

In recent years, there has been an increase in the presence of vesicular lesions noted on swine, and consequently foreign animal disease investigations (Kasari, 2016). Vesicular diseases are a group of similar diseases in swine that produce a fever with vesicles (a fluid filled blister on the skin) that progresses to erosions (ulcers on the skin) that can occur on/near the mouth, snout, muzzle, teats and feet. Vesicular diseases that affect swine include, foot and mouth disease (FMD), senecavirus A, vesicular stomatitis (VS), vesicular exanthema of swine and swine vesicular disease. Any evidence of vesicular disease in swine must be investigated by a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician (FADD) – these are individuals who are state/federal employees that are specially trained to investigate suspect and confirmed FAD cases. Each suspect vesicular disease case must be thoroughly investigated as it closely resembles the clinical signs of FMD, a foreign animal disease (FAD). Foreign animal diseases, especially FMD, can have devastating animal health and economic impacts on the agriculture and food animal industry. Since FMD poses a threat to the United States, any lesions that present like blisters must be investigated by state/federal animal health officials through a foreign animal disease investigation to protect animal health and the agriculture industry.

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Why, How, and What to Keep? Environmental Records

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Unless you are an accountant, record keeping is probably not your idea of fun. And, unlike your operation’s production records, you may not consider environmental records to be a necessity for your facility’s livelihood. However, kept properly, environmental records are beneficial to your facility, and in many cases, they are a requirement. As discussed here, environmental record keeping refers to items related to manure and nutrient management at and around the production facility. Environmental record keeping is a necessity for regulator-required nutrient and manure management plans (NMP or MMP) or for USDA’s Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP). In this fact sheet we will discuss how keeping environmental records can benefit your facility, what records should be kept, and how you can incorporate the records into the overall management of your facility.

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Infiltration: The Hidden Enemy

Publish Date: January 1, 2023

Proper ventilation performance, especially during cold-weather periods, is affected by many factors including the performance of the planned primary inlet system and the hidden, unplanned leakage inlets from cracks and construction gaps (i.e., infiltration). This article will describe research conducted at Iowa State University to determine the extent and influence of infiltration on ventilation performance and some on-farm practices to help reduce the unwanted consequences from excessive infiltration.

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Needle-Free Injection Technology

Publish Date: December 23, 2022

Producers and veterinarians have a choice between conventional needle-based devices and needle-free injection devices when injecting vaccines and medications in swine. The method of delivery of vaccines and medications play an important role in health outcomes, costs of production and the safety of the meat produced. As the adoption of needle-free injection technologies has increased in recent years, this factsheet provides information to assist producers in making informed decisions about the type of injection devices they use within their herd.

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Principles of Air Filtration for Swine Facilities

Publish Date: November 15, 2022

Air filtration is a commonly used biosecurity practice to minimize the spread of airborne diseases. Common airborne diseases include Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, and influenza A virus in swine (IAV-S). These diseases present substantial productivity and economic losses for producers. For example, PRRSV is estimated to cost the US swine industry $664 million per year (Holtkamp et al., 2013). Air filtration systems require careful consideration to determine if they are needed and beneficial. This fact sheet will cover these key topics related to selecting a filtration system and managing the system.

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African Swine Fever: an emerging risk to pig health

Publish Date: October 17, 2022

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious, viral disease manifesting differently in wild and domestic pigs. Its impact depends on the virus virulence, the infectious dose, and the infection route. African swine fever is not a health or foodborne risk to humans as it only affects wild and domestic pigs. Mortality rate of peracute and acute clinical forms of ASF can reach 100% and in subacute or chronic forms, ASF mortality ranges from 30-70% (Galindo-Cardiel et al., 2013; Sánchez-Vizcaíno et al., 2015).

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Environmental enrichment strategies for swine

Publish Date: July 28, 2022

Environmental enrichment provides an opportunity to improve the living conditions of farm animals. Current farming systems offer little stimulation, other than food and water and animals are often closely confined in groups (with relatively little space per animal). Such environments may be inadequate to fulfil all the needs of an animal, or an animal may be unable to cope effectively. Enrichment can be used to encourage more of the natural behaviors of animals, thereby enhancing their welfare.

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Biosecurity for the Producer

Publish Date: June 16, 2022

What is biosecurity? Biosecurity can be subdivided into 3 parts: 1) bio-exclusion involves keeping pathogens out of a herd, 2) bio-management involves managing pathogens already in a herd to minimize the negative consequences, and 3) bio-containment involves preventing pathogens from escaping a herd and putting other farms at risk. Bio-exclusion will be the focus of this factsheet. Improving bio-exclusion requires taking time to identify the most significant vulnerabilities on farms to determine what should be done next. It starts with identifying vulnerabilities that can result in pathogens being introduced into a herd (step 1) and then prioritizing bio-exclusion control measures to address them (step 2). Historically, relatively little time has been spent on the first step resulting in slow progress in improving biosecurity.

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