DES MOINES, Iowa — The National Pork Board is collaborating with South Dakota State University to “open the barn doors” on how pigs are raised.
The Pork Checkoff’s Operation Main Street speakers can include live-streaming video tours of SDSU’s Swine Education and Research Center in Brookings, South Dakota, in presentations to local civic groups, culinary and pre-vet students, dietitians, chefs and others.
The state-of-the-art SDSU teaching center features all phases of pig production and provides the latest technology for research on reproductive physiology, nutrition management and sustainability science, according to Bob Thaler, SDSU professor and a swine Extension specialist.
“Virtual tours help non-traditional audiences understand today’s pork production,” Thaler said. “Our goal is to demystify how pigs are raised.”
“This is an excellent example of how the pork industry can leverage resources to demonstrate responsible pig farming through transparency and to build consumer trust,” said Scott Phillips, a Missouri pork producer.
The Pork Board member serves on the Pork Checkoff’s producer and state services committee and also is an OMS speaker.
OMS Indiana speaker Jeff Harker featured a live tour during a recent presentation to the Northeast Chapter of the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“The live tours show how we follow the We Care ethical principles every day in our barns to raise healthy pigs. The tours engage the audience and generate questions that encourage conversation and learning,” Harker said.
SDSU students conduct the live barn tours and participate with the OMS speakers during presentations to answer questions. Maddie Hokanson, a SDSU senior and one of the Pork Checkoff’s 2017 America’s Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, said the tours underscore how technology is driving continuous improvement in pig farming.
“The live tours provide virtual face-to-face communication that show how far we’ve come with barn technology to raise healthier pigs,” Hokanson said.
During 2018, OMS and SDSU conducted more than a dozen virtual tours, with a goal of conducting 30 to 40 this year.