Opening day at the Wisconsin State Fair

Wisconsin State Fair 2014

The Wisconsin State Fair opens its ten-day run on Thursday.  Brian Bolan is Ag Director at the fair and he says once again they are expecting good numbers to fill the barns.  More than 900 head are entered in the junior dairy show in what is considered the largest junior dairy show in the world.  The junior dairy, poultry, rabbits and goats along with open swine and sheep lead-off the show.  On Monday they move in junior beef, sheep and swine.  On Thursday open dairy, beef and rabbits take-over the barns for the final weekend.

Because of the PED virus, there are some tighter health regulations for the swine show this year.  Bolan says they are asking for statements from veterinarians regarding producers’ herd health at home.  Vets will also check all trailers before they unload at the fair.  The breed shows will be the first to occupy the barns then junior show which will be a terminal show.  He does expect open show numbers to be down a little this year.

The Wisconsin State Fair runs Thursday, July 31st through Sunday, August 10th at State Fair Park in West Allis.

AUDIO:Bolan talks about the show 4:12 mp3


Alice Zoey BrooksThe Wisconsin State Fair is a very busy time for Alice in Dairyland.  Zoey Brooks will be at the fair every day doing everything from explaining what goes on in the milking parlor to talking to attendees about the numerous items on display in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.  She will be an active participant in the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction and Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction.  She will also compete in the cream puff eating contest.  Above all, she will be happy to talk with fairgoers throughout the grounds.

AUDIO:Brooks talks about her duties 1:00 mp3





Visit the Wisconsin State Fair website here:

The unveiling of the Butter Cow and Calf

2014 Butter Cow and Calf unveiled. Meet Scarlet and Grayce (4)_webOne of the longest running traditions at the Ohio State Fair, dating back to 1903, the unveiling of the butter cow and calf was held on Tuesday, July 22.

Scott Higgins who represents Ohio Dairy Farmers says in addition to the cow and calf this year, there are 15 symbols that represent Ohio.

“It’s an honor for the dairy industry to have this rich tradition and we try not to let the consumers or the dairy farmers down, every year we make sure that the butter cow and calf are beautiful images of what the dairy industry is all about,” said Higgins. “But having a featured sculpture that represents Ohio’s symbols and all the character and traditions that we have in this state, it’s neat to be able to showcase them here.”

Audio: Scott Higgins, Ohio Dairy Farmers (3:40 mp3)

To name the butter cow and calf the dairy industry turned to social media, which Jenny Hubble, spokesperson for Ohio Dairy Farmers says turned out to be quite fun.

“We encouraged fans of the butter cow to submit names and we had a lot of crazy, great, very creative names submitted, Jenny said. “Many were celebrity inspired, some were traditional cow names, but this year we’re very pleased with the names we chose, we think they fit our display very well. This year the butter cow’s name is Scarlet and her calf’s name is Grayce, very fitting since it’s a tribute to Ohio’s state symbols.”

Audio: Jenny Hubble, Ohio Dairy Farmers (2:00 mp3)

You can see the butter sculptures in the Dairy Products Building.

NPB officer braces for possible PEDV rebreak

Dale Norton, producer and president of the National Pork Board at World Pork Expo 2014The President of the National Pork Board is bracing for a potential re-break of PEDv on his farm.  In Mid-March, on Dale Norton’s birthday, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus broke on his southern Michigan operation.  He tells Brownfield Ag News, “I wouldn’t want to wish it on anybody.”

Norton partners in a farrow-to-wean operation and a farrow-to-finish operation that markets 31,000 hogs a year. He says they used feedback to help boost immunity and the impact of the virus could have been worse, “We lost about two-and-a-half weeks of production which is pretty short compared to a lot of people.  About 15-hundred pigs.”

Now, his concern is about the virus coming back again, “Sow immunity only lasts for about four months and we’re coming up on that time period where we might have re-breaks because we don’t have immunity that lasts long enough.”

Norton was on the PEDV task force of the Pork Board’s Swine Health Committee and learned from others who had had PEDV.  He tells Brownfield he and his family partners are considering whether or not to stay in the hog business.

Interview with Dale Norton at World Pork Expo, June 5, 2014 (6:00 mp3)

PRRS work informs PEDv management

Reid Phillips, BIVI PRRS Manager during World Pork Expo

Reid Phillips, BIVI PRRS Manager, during World Pork Expo

Battling Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) in the swine industry for the past 20 years could help when it comes to managing the latest swine disease, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). Reid Phillips, Technical Manager for PRRS with Boehringer Ingelheim (B-I), is also a veterinarian.  He tells Brownfield Ag News, “It was a disease that was unforgiving. It was a disease that challenged us. I think we had to learn a lot in a relatively short period of time. It was also a disease that would spank us if we made shortcuts.”

Phillips says PRRS has made veterinarians better and has led the way to many improvements including better biosecurity, “To help control or mitigate transmissions risks for PRRS. I think it’s going to help us with PED and maybe the next virus.”

B-I has three swine vaccines for PRRS.  He tells Brownfield its “all hands on board” working on a vaccine for PEDv.

Interview with Reid Phillips (6:00 mp3)

Unpredictability of PEDv

Dr. Tom Burkgren, American Association of Swine Vets, World Pork Expo

Dr. Tom Burkgren, American Association of Swine Vets, World Pork Expo

A year into the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in the U.S. and there are still more questions than answers.  At the World Pork Expo, Tom Burkgren, head of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians said sow immunity is still a big question mark, “Especially with some of the recurrences you’ll have good litters and next to them will be a bad litter where you have continued diarrhea, death loss, pre-weaning mortality staying at about 30-percent. So, that really presents a challenge for our veterinarians and producers on the farms.”

Since January of this year, he says there have been some herds affected by PEDv that have taken longer to get to negative than most affected herds last year. Burkgren says, “Sixty-to-70-percent of the farms you can get negative pigs out in six weeks. But, there remains a percentage of farms where the virus has been more persistent and it doesn’t seem to really correlate with high or low biosecurity.”

But, Burkgren stresses that the practice of feedback for immunity and increased biosecurity are the top things producers can do to try and keep PEDv away. Meanwhile, increased industry and government funding is going into PEDv management and research.

AUDIO: Dr. Tom Burkgren at 2014 World Pork Expo news conference (5:00 mp3)

Managing the challenged pig

At World Pork Expo, we visited with Becky Bierlein, a young animal specialist for Purina Animal Nutrition, about the importance of addressing dehydration in young pigs that are able to survive the PED virus.

AUDIO: Becky Bierlein (3:30 MP3)

Nebraska producer has avoided PEDv

Jan Miller and her husband Jim raise crops and hogs in northeast Nebraska near the town of Belden. Jan is also the current president of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

At World Pork Expo, we visited with Jan about a variety of topics including her activities at World Pork Expo and keeping PEDv out of their farrow-to-finish hog operation.

AUDIO: Jan Miller (4:10 MP3)

NPB helps consumers adjust to higher prices

Retail prices for pork are going up and the National Pork Board is working to help consumers adjust.

Pork Board CEO Chris Novak says the impact of pig deaths caused by PEDv is the driver.  He says retailers that stocked up ahead are better positioned to offer better prices.  His advice to consumers is shop around.  Novak tells Brownfield Ag News, “Look ahead to see what’s coming because, clearly, when our industry has lost close to 10% of the number of pigs that we otherwise would bring to market that shortage of supply is going to have an effect on consumer prices.”

Novak says there are still good prices and value to be had on pork, “From our standpoint, loins and chops are under-priced yet. We’d love to be able to add a little more value. So, hopefully, those consumer should still be seeing the VALUE for loins and chops in the grocery store.”

He says the Pork Board is working with retailers this summer on special deals and promotions that will benefit consumers.

Interview with Chris Novak (18:00 mp3)

Vilsack: Ongoing communication with EPA

Increasing challenges brought by Environmental Protection Agency rules, regulations and proposals have many farmers seeing the EPA working against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  But, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he has encouraged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to stay in touch with agriculture and she does.

Vilsack says, “She meets with commodity groups – livestock producing groups and commodity groups – on a regular basis so that there’s an interchange and exchange of ideas and concerns.”

The staffs of both agencies, he says, make recommendations on policy, “Which is why we worked with EPA on the Waters of the U.S., for example, to identify specific conservation practices that won’t require permitting, that won’t require notification that might not have otherwise been there but for us pointing out how this might potentially impact producers.”

Vilsack say the USDA is engaged in advising and consulting the EPA and that will continue, “I can’t tell her how to run her agency. She can’t tell me how to run USDA. But, there is communication and we have also encouraged her to go to farms to actually visit in rural areas which she has done and which she will continue to do.”

Vilsack’s comments were made at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Strategic Investment Program (SIP) luncheon at the 2014 World Pork Expo.

Swine Show success for Illinois siblings

Maddie Caldwell, Elmwood Illinois at World Pork Expo 2014 Junior National Swine Show

Maddie Caldwell

The Caldwell family of Elmwood, Illinois took home a number of awards from the Junior National Swine Show at the World Pork Expo last week in Iowa.  Maddie Caldwell has competed at the Expo six of the seven years she’s been showing pigs and tells Brownfield it’s exciting to compete at this level, “This is the biggest as well as the first show of the season that we usually have. We’ll go on to show at CPS and Louisville within the next month.”Caldwell won for Reserve overall Duroc and Reserve overall Yorkshire.  Her “baby” – as she calls her – is Darla, the Duroc, “Her and I have gotten along pretty well throughout this year. I tend to lean more toward the Duroc breed because they’re red-colored as well as my hair so we kind of have a little connection, I think.”

She says these shows can be a mini-vacation for the pigs when they’re not in the ring, “At home they really don’t get any breaks. We walk them quite a bit a day, trying to get around 40 minutes before we come to this show, for them to build up their endurance. They get rinsed quite a few times a day (here) to keep them cool because they don’t have sweat glands. We try to just keep them comfortable here at these shows because they’re working pretty hard out in that ring,
sometimes can be out there for quite some time.”

[Read more...]