Swine Day conference focuses on key issues in pork industry

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Editor’s Note: This article was completed as an assignment for a class in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

More than 400 students, producers and allied agriculture industry representatives were present for K-State Swine Day 2011 at the K-State Alumni Center on Thursday.

The conference is put on by the department of animal sciences and industry to benefit and meet the needs of individuals in the swine business. The day serves as an outlet for industry leaders to share knowledge and for K-State to offer updates and summaries of applied and basic research conducted during the past year.

“Swine Day is a day to come together,” said Tim Stroda, president and CEO of Kansas Pork Association. “The K-State swine nutrition team is known nationally, that’s why you see so many people here today.”

Along with other contributors, the Kansas Pork Association has worked with the K-State swine nutrition team and department of animal sciences and industry to put on Swine Day for more than 25 years.

The day focused on the needs of pork producers. This year’s themes included helping improve net return of a swine business, vitamin D deficiencies in pork and global grain and livestock impacts.

“For a swine producer, feed costs are nearly 70 percent of production costs in an operation, so nutrition is very important to our producers,” Stroda said.

Matt Asmus, graduate teaching assistant in swine nutrition, said in terms of swine nutrition, K-State is “one of the most, if not the most, highly regarded swine nutrition programs in the nation.”

Asmus said the information individuals can gather from Swine Day “is applied research, rather than basic.”

Asmus said the content is easy to understand and applicable to real-life pork producers on real operations, facing real problems.

“This is the stuff that can be used every day in everyday production,” Asmus said.

With rising feed costs, researchers are using their work to relate to producers and help them look for ways to be able to stay in business. Asmus said that’s how the K-State swine nutrition team works, they identify what producers need.

The K-State swine nutrition team is a group of five professors and 12 graduate students who run research identifying the needs of pork producers.

“Our results are for the Kansas pork producers, along with producers all over the nation,” Asmus said.

For example, this year vitamin D deficiencies were noticed in several cases across Kansas and this lack raised concern. Swine Day 2011 offered a panel specifically for this topic, to educate consumers and resolve the issue.

The K-State animal science and industry department has deep ties with producers across Kansas and the country. “That’s what makes K-State exceptionally different from any other university,” Asmus said.

Respected K-State animal sciences and industry faculty and staff, representatives from K-State Research and Extension, several pork industry leaders and 35 commercial exhibitors were present at the conference.

“My favorite part of the Swine Day events is networking with businesses and professors in between seminars,” said Natalie Laubner, junior in animal sciences and industry. “Many businesses are interested in networking with current students and their career goals.”

Although most of the information presented was research, Laubner said she thought it was beneficial for consumers and community members to come to Swine Day. The event provides an open avenue for those who are unaware of the industry to ask questions and tell producers/researchers their concerns.

Industry hot topics were presented and attendees were given the opportunity to speak with a panel of pork industry businesses and organizations at the technology trade show.

The day concluded with a social reception with Call Hall ice cream that allowed attendants to visit with fellow pork producers and enjoy K-State hospitality

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