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Indoor Pigs Healthier and Happier

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Raising swine indoors offers more control of the environment and interactions with pigs, reducing their contact to diseases, parasites, and weather. For example, raising swine outdoors used to be a major cause of trichinosis, a human infection with the roundworm Trichinella spiralis. In the last 40 years the number of cases of trichinosis due to eating pork has reduced dramatically (in 2010, approximately 40 cases of trichinosis were reported each year in the U.S.).

"We're hoping to get this information out to producers," said Beth Young, swine veterinarian with the University of Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program. "If producers are faced with criticism, we will be able to provide them with some information that will help them fight back. I think that's really the ultimate goal of the project."

Indoor pigs also have reduced exposure to toxoplasma, lung worm, kidney worms, and other parasite and diseases. Many of these conditions reduced a swine operations profit due to the loss of those effected pigs. Now that pigs are indoors, swine producers have the ability to improve over all productivity and business.

Can Dairy Practices Reduce Carbon Footprints?

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A study on milk production use of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST) showed a reduction in the carbon footprint of dairies. Using rbST to increase milk production in cows means that less cows, resources, and energy are needed produce the same quantity of milk, when compared to a dairy operation not using rbST.

"Environmental sustainability is an important consideration in agricultural production, with emphasis placed upon meeting human food requirements while mitigating environmental impact. The present study demonstrates that use of rbST markedly improves the efficiency of milk production and mitigates environmental parameters, including eutrophication and acidification, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use," wrote the study’s authors.

Are Happy Chickens Free Chickens?

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Are chickens happier on the free range? One study suggested that elevated hormone levels, usually associated with stress or fear, have been observed in free range chickens. The level of stress indicating hormones for free range chickens are the same or higher than chickens in conventional cages.

Free range hens deal with pressures that hens in modern cages do not, researchers explained. For instance, hens in modern cages are protected from outside predators, while free range hens are not. "They are constantly in fear of attack by predators," said [Dr. Jeff Downing at University of Sydney]. "A shadow (a bird flying overhead) comes over and they are completely startled."

China's Trade Red Tape Impacts US Ag Exports

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Yes, China is a large market for US agricultural products. And this puts China in the driver's seat when US companies want to participate.

US farmers lose billions of dollars in sales each year because of China’s import restrictions on wheat, poultry, pork, cotton and other food and agricultural products, according to a recently released study from the US International Trade Commission. “China is our number one market for US agricultural product exports, but China’s unjustified trade barriers are blocking some of our goods such as wheat and beef,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said in response to the new International Trade Commission study.

This study, published March 2011, describes government policies and other factors affecting "the conditions of competition in China’s agricultural market and trade".

How Much Do You Know About Hunger In America?

Tyson Foods donated 29,000 pounds of boneless chicken to help raise awareness of hunger in America and to help feed those in need. The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta and Gwinnett County Public Schools partnered to help distribute the donated food.

“There are millions of hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are faced with the realities of hunger and malnourishment,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods. “We are trying to make a difference in their lives by providing nutrient-rich protein and by increasing understanding of hunger in our country.”

Tyson Foods donated the chicken as part of its "KNOW Hunger" campaign, aimed at creating awareness though education and sponsored events.

Power To The Poultry Manure

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Poultry manure, as a by product of poultry production, is getting attention of public groups in the Shenandoah Valley (VA). The big question is what to do with it. As source of energy, manure represents an opportunity. But the approach to generating usable energy can be controversial.

All manure to energy systems offer at least one source of revenue for poultry growers, the purchase of poultry litter to start the process. The large and small scale options differ, however, in several ways: grower contract requirements, from none to a 10 year commitment; the price paid for the litter, from $5 to $15 a ton or more; the grower’s investment, from none to $100,000 or more; and who owns the power generated, electricity, bio-gas or bio-oil, and any other saleable byproducts, such as fertilizer.

The Shenandoah Valley Poultry Litter to Energy Watershed & Air Advisory Group has been meeting to help capture public opinion, develop solutions, and put forth executable approaches.

Avian Flu Still A World Concern

The Bangladesh government will send seven poultry farmers abroad to learn more about bio-security in farms and bring that knowledge back to the country. Recent outbreaks of the bird-flu in Bangladesh has caused large losses in its growing poultry industry.

"They [poultry farm owners] will get first-hand knowledge on how foreign organisations maintain bio-security in their farms," [Abdul Latif Biswas, poultry sector, fisheries and livestock minister] said. "Most of the outbreaks occurred in the central part of the country … it's our fault," he observed. Highlighting contribution of the sector to the economy, he said, "The government is ready to give incentives to promote private sector initiatives in poultry industry. A new law has also been framed."

Water - H20 - How much do you need? Do you have enough?

"According to the WHO, an estimated 884 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation (Kaiser Global Health Policy Report, 3/21). Additionally, "[a]pproximately 10% of the global burden of disease worldwide could be prevented with improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene and better water resource management," a second "Poverty Matters Blog" post states." Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report
This Week In Ag posted several resources on the topic of water, agriculture, human health, and environment.

Bringing Farm To Fork Message to Consumers

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The term "Farm to Fork" reminds us that food comes from the farm and finally gets to us by a fork (a US/European point of view, chops sticks anyone?). IBM has been running a series of campaigns that promote how their technology is helping the planet become a better place in areas like education, energy, and food.

According to an IBM Institute for Business Valuesurvey, two of every five U.S. and U.K. consumers say safety concerns dictate what food they will—and won't—purchase.

IBM offers some examples of Smarter Food: Analysis technologies to help improve crop yields and making harvesting practices more efficient; radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking of meat products from the farm to supermarket shelf; research into understanding food protein structures; and sequencing the genome that makes cocoa, the key ingredient of chocolate (video on YouTube), to help produce higher cocoa plant yields and resist drought and pests.

Expensive Feed Scarce Feed

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Corn prices going way up is making affordability and availability of corn and other feed grains scarce. Leaders of the swine industry groups in Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico have come together to express their concern of the long term availability of feed grain and to ask that NAFTA and government leaders meet and address the issues.

"If the availability of feed is not addressed in a responsible manner, the ability of hundreds of millions of people to consume pork and other meat and poultry products will be jeopardized."
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