News 560 views last update:Dec 14, 2010

Alltech's International Forum on Pork Production - key issues tackled

Global leaders in the swine industry gathered in Lexington, Kentucky on December 1st and 2nd, for Alltech's International Forum on Pork Production: A tribute to Dr. Des Cole. The forum comprised two days of discussion on the key issues facing the global pig industry.

Topics included: the removal of antibiotic growth promoters, risk management, sow productivity, and how to tackle multi-factorial diseases.

Discussions began with Joe Kerns, a 25-year veteran of risk management consulting with the International Agribusiness Group. He emphasised that we can’t try to outguess the market but need to manage what is controllable – i.e. input costs, which dramatically increased in 2010.  Kerns expects prices to continue to climb in 2011 giving further impetus to the need for strong risk management programmes.

Dr. Gunner Sorensen with the Pig Research Centre and Danish Agriculture and Food Council addressed the challenge of achieving more than 30 pigs per sow per year. Key points included:

  • Maximum sow productivity must start with gilt development.
  • Management of sow milk yield is critical if she is to successfully nurse a large litter size. Feed intake is integral in this respect.

Tom Gillespie of Rensselaer Swine Services set forth a plan for achieving optimum health and immunity.  Since co-infection is the most common complication in the unit, Gillespie has chosen to focus on the overall health of a unit instead of just one disease. According to Gillespie, key elements of this approach are developing an understanding of both the flow of the target pathogen within the herd and biosecurity issues.

Dr. Bill Close of Close Consultancy spoke on an era of no antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs). Close explained that the removal of AGPs has led to an increase in AGPs for therapeutic uses.  However, this can be overcome with proper management and nutrition.  His suggestions included: improving the intake and the quality of the colostrums, correct diet specifications and feed management, use of pro-active ingredients and additives, development of a healthcare and vaccination program, and the practice of good management techniques and a proper environment.

Bruce Mullan from the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia wrapped up Wednesday’s session at the International Forum on Pork Production. He summarized some of the questions and viewpoints that rose from the day’s presentations and discussions and added some observations of his own:
With regard to Dr. Sorensen’s presentation on sow productivity:
  • The important consideration is not just productivity but productivity vs. cost per kilo of pork produced.
  • It is fine to discuss the relationship between milk production and feed intake but isn’t it quality of the piglet at birth that starts it all?
  • Precision feeding – we have the technology but are we ready to implement it?
  • Artificial rearing of piglets – it is possible but is it economical?
  • We need to consider the possible effects on pork quality
With regard to Dr. Gillespie’s presentation on swine health and immunity:
  • If you want good to great results you must understand the behaviour of the pathogens involved (shedding/persistence)
  • Application of available techniques requires well trained and motivated people
  • Vaccines cannot prevent infections – know the limitation of the tools that you use
  • Everything can fall apart with a break in biosecurity (transport)
Mullan concluded by saying that the pork industry’s greatest challenge is to be accepted by the public.


  • Dr Gunner Sorensen

    Dr Gunner Sorensen

  • Bill Close

    Bill Close

  • Bruce Mullan

    Bruce Mullan

Editor PigProgress

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