More than 260 producers, veterinarians, packers, processors, academics and other pork industry partners attended the Pork Checkoff’s inaugural
Pig Welfare Symposium last November in Des Moines, Iowa, with a common goal: To continue raising the bar on the care of pigs. The agenda focused on general welfare concepts and how they can be applied at the farm level.

“The symposium was the first of its kind,” said Dave Pyburn, D.V.M., the Pork Checkoff’s senior vice president of science and technology. “It brought pork industry segments together to share ideas, to learn from each other and to foster dialogue on pig welfare.”

He added, “Producers have always focused on pig care in their barns, with protecting and promoting animal well-being as one of the pork industry’s six We CareSM ethical
principles. The symposium addressed how we can continue to make improvements.”

Topics included animal handling, lameness, the Common Swine Industry Audit, pain management, euthanasia and gestation sow housing. Highlights included international perspectives on emerging issues, producers’ on-farm experiences and defining animal welfare. Another panel featured consumers sharing their views on animal welfare. Sixty of the attendees also participated in one of three interactive workshops: the Common Swine Industry Audit, on-farm euthanasia and low-stress pig handling.

“My biggest takeaway from attending the symposium is the incredible amount of research being done on this subject,” said Keith Schoettmer, owner of Schoettmer Prime Pork in Indiana.

“I encourage producers to find time in their schedule to view presentations from the symposium online,” Schoettmer said. “If we just pick up one thing that helps us care for our animals better, then it’s a great investment of our time.”

JoDee Haala, director of animal well-being for Christensen Farms, Minnesota, said that the wealth of information and opinions made the symposium a valuable learning event while showing the pork industry’s commitment to the topic.

“We need to keep showing consumers that they can trust pork producers and that we’re interested in doing what’s right for our people, pigs and planet,” Haala said.

In the other newsletter articles, you’ll read highlights from the more than 30 industry experts who shared information over the course of the three-day workshop.

See the full agenda, along with speaker
audio and presentations.