Highlights of the Gary Allee Symposium
By: Luke Zimmerman
Dr. Steve Kitt, First Choice Livestock, LLC., began the symposium discussing “How to drive efficiencies in pork production: What are the gaps in knowledge and the obstacles? (and potential solutions)” Dr. Kitt shared Webster’s definition of efficiency as “capable of producing desirable results with little or no waste.” He emphasized that as an industry, we are not only capable but striving to get better in all that we do. He also shared that at the end of the day, our priority in pork production is maximizing kilograms of pork per sow per year. Throughout his presentation, Dr. Kitt addressed several key areas in the pork industry that provide opportunities for us to continue to improve, including: 1) Identifying variability in lysine digestibility across DDG sources, 2) Maintaining target ground corn particle size, 3) Defining the SID lysine requirements of grow-finish pigs, and 4) Continuing to build collaboration between universities and the industry. Overall, Dr. Kitt did an excellent job of sharing the true scope of opportunities we have as an industry to continue to improve in all that we do.
Dr. Ashley DeDecker, Smithfield, continued the symposium by discussing “Research topic prioritization in a commercial production system.” She began by emphasizing the importance of using a systematic approach to prioritize research topics. Dr. DeDecker shared how Smithfield has formed an internal research committee which provides input into Smithfield’s research needs and helps keep the research program focused on the needs of the business. She also spent time on the systematic five-step process that every potential research idea at Smithfield goes through before being implemented. These steps included 1) Concepting the idea, 2) Developing protocols, 3) Implementing protocols, 4) Interpreting data, and 5) Implementing it in the field. In conclusion, Dr. DeDecker shared several research areas that Smithfield will be focused on moving forward.
Dr. Clayton Johnson, Carthage System, began his presentation “A personal perspective- ASF,” explaining how we need to learn from the ASF battles that are being fought overseas and try not to make the same mistakes. After providing an overview of ASF, he shared his experience with the virus, touching on diagnosis, depopulation, and biosecurity. Dr. Johnson also spent time reviewing ASF vaccine prospects and discussing the possibility of the virus reaching the United States. He concluded by sharing that today, disease is a global issue and that it will take everyone working together to beat the ASF virus.
Dr. Laura L. Greiner, Iowa State University, concluded the symposium with a presentation on “Understanding today’s sow and preparing for the future.” Dr. Greiner reviewed how genetic selection has changed our sows over time, resulting in sows with leaner body mass and reduced feed intake. She also spent time reviewing the current challenges the industry is facing with sow prolapses and longevity. Dr. Greiner concluded her presentation by looking ahead and discussing the increasing social demands of the consumer and the potential for continued labor shortages.