by Carrie Webster

Preparedness is the watchword at commercial farms across the country with the threat of African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases. But what about the rest of the industry, including the show pig segment? What are they doing to prepare?  “Show pig producers collectively represent 120,000 sows, which would place them among the top 12 pork producers,” said Bill Winkelman, vice president of producer and industry relations for the Pork Checkoff. “This large segment of the pork industry plays a key role in protecting the health of the U.S. pig herd.”

The Checkoff is sharing biosecurity information with the show pig segment, which collectively represents 120,000 sows.

The Checkoff reached out to share biosecurity information with youth show pig exhibitors at The Exposition. Nearly 1,400 exhibitors, parents and industry spectators were at the pig show, held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in June. “While show pig breeders and exhibitors have always practiced good biosecurity, the Pork Checkoff took the opportunity at The Exposition to provide continued education on biosecurity and FADs, specifically ASF,” Winkelman said. Jeff Kaisand, DVM, bureau chief state veterinarian, required a seven-day certified veterinarian inspection, and each pig was visually inspected prior to unloading on the fairgrounds. Both of these are enhanced requirements from past years.

One Herd, Shared Goals

“No matter how you raise your pigs, the U.S. is one herd,” Winkelman said. “These young people are spokespeople for our industry and most will have a future career within it. We need to continue to remind them that what they do at home affects the health of the entire U.S. herd.”
Ernie Barnes, industry services director for the Checkoff, agrees that sharing biosecurity messages with youth is vital. “From those who show one pig at a county fair to those who travel across the country all year, they play a big role in keeping U.S. pigs healthy,” Barnes said.

Outreach at The Exposition is part of an entire communications strategy being implemented by the Pork Checkoff to connect with this key segment. Highlights at The Exposition included:

  • Pork Checkoff and U.S. Pork Center of Excellence (USPCE) booth:  Biosecurity facts were shared with exhibitors via one-on-one conversations, handouts and an animated biosecurity video, which can be viewed at pork.to/showpig. The webpage was created as a one-stop-shop for resources related to exhibition biosecurity. A new toolkit also can be found there. It outlines best practices to keep your pig healthy before, during and after a show.
  • Reproduction and biosecurity clinic:  Youth learned the importance of biosecurity at five stations, including tips on show equipment, the application of clean and dirty lines and a demonstration to show exhibitors how easily diseases spread. The Pork Checkoff co-hosted the clinic with the USPCE and Swine Genetics International.
  • Biosecurity panel:  Checkoff, National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred staff, led a biosecurity and farm preparation discussion. On the panel were Doug Albright, Zoetis Animal Health and Albright Swine Farm, Michigan; Mike Doran, Swine Genetics International, Iowa; Daniel Hendrickson, DVM, Stoney Creek Veterinary Service and Consultation, Indiana; and Benny Mote, University of Nebraska.

“These professionals shared best practices and the key role youth play in safeguarding the U.S. pig herd against ASF and other FADs,”

…said Brett Kaysen, assistant vice president of sustainability for the Checkoff and moderator of the panel.

The message resonated with the exhibitors. “I learned it is always important to wash your hands and to not share equipment,” said Knox Causemaker, a young exhibitor from Atkinson, Illinois, Knox’s dad, Kane Causemaker said, “The kids came home from the show with a different perspective on why we do things a certain way. Biosecurity has a whole new meaning.”