PRODUCERS, veterinarians and food chain leaders are getting a chance to see and experience new technology first-hand at the recently opened Zoetis demonstration farm in Greensburg, Ind.
As part of the farm experience, visitors can explore important pig production topics, such as preweaning mortality, feed efficiency, split-sex feeding and nutritional requirements. In addition, they can learn about recent research and field data on the economic benefits of IMPROVEST, an immunological castration (IC) technology launched by Zoetis in 2011.
In the month or so since the farm became operational, the response has been exceedingly positive, according to Bill Beckman, area application manager for Zoetis. "It has been a home run since we opened the doors."
In fact, Beckman said the number-one response from producers and veterinarians has been how much they appreciate the opportunity to get a real-world sense of the technology.
Since IMPROVEST was rolled out, we've gotten a lot of questions, said Christina Lood, senior manager of marketing communications for the Zoetis pork team. She explained that an extensive collection of videos and other such materials exists, but seeing the product work on real pigs in a real system takes those efforts to an even higher level of education and involvement.
The farm also is being used for training and certification purposes, as well as for distance learning.
Three local FFA chapters take turns with daily pig care on the farm.
There are a total of five cameras, three of which are in the finisher and two in the nursery. The cameras allow the Zoetis team to digitally showcase the IC administration process as well as how the pigs respond after each of the two required doses.
The first group of food chain partners is scheduled to tour the farm in the coming weeks to learn more about IC technology and to see for themselves the process and protocols, explained Christi Calhoun, senior manager of food chain outreach for Zoetis.
IC captures male pigs' natural growth efficiencies, which offer opportunities for optimizing production due to feed savings, reduced piglet mortality and improved market weights.
However, male pigs, if not castrated (either physically or immunologically), can have associated issues with aggression and can be a risk to worker safety. In addition, the final pork meat product of intact males can result in boar taint and potentially can create an unpleasant consumer experience for some.
Through the farm, Zoetis hopes to instill confidence that pig performance and meat quality attributes can be maintained through IC technology to allow hog producers to deliver a consistent pork supply to U.S. and global markets.
The 500-head, nursery-to-finishing facility is jointly supported by veterinarian Larry Rueff and is located on Rueff's 120-acre corn and soybean farm.
"We've long known about the inherent performance advantages of raising intact males," said Rueff, a 30-year practicing veterinarian who co-manages Swine Veterinary Services out of south-central Indiana. "IC technology now allows producers to take advantage of these benefits while still ensuring the same high level of pork quality and great taste consumers have come to expect."
Zoetis welcomes visitors to the farm and encourages interested individuals to plan visits around key farm activities. These activities include a two-dose product administration, review of quality assurance protocols certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an evaluation of IC barrow market weight characteristics. Tours can be scheduled through local Zoetis representatives.
IMPROVEST, which is a veterinary prescription product, is relatively new to the U.S. market but has been used for more than a decade in more than 60 countries.