Last week I visited the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. Apart from enjoying my breakfast pancakes with maple syrup at Cracker Barrel and my annual Texas Roadhouse steakhouse pilgrimage, I looked around at the expo trying to find new trends and happenings in the industry. I did not focus so much on products and services but rather on general aspects that characterize the pig industry during this year’s event.
1. Automatic sow feeders
Although this is not a new development, I was impressed not only by the number of manufacturers exhibiting, but also by the increasing sophistication of the equipment. Of particular note was a computerized feeder for lactating sows that promised individual sow nutrition.
2. New and improved genetics
Whereas in past years the participation of genetics companies was restricted to the two or three major players, I noticed this year an increased number of smaller genetic companies that try to offer a different product line particularly suited for the ever-changing pig industry in the U.S.
3. European feed additives
With the move away from in-feed antibiotics, there is a plethora of new players from Europe offering additives that can replace antibiotics. It was evident that the majority of such offerings were in the area of botanicals (as they are now called in the U.S.), meaning all secondary plant compounds that include extracts from herbs and spices.
4. Health issues
One would expect the focus to remain on the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus again this year, but very little attention was paid to it. There is a new vaccine in the market, and the virus did not cause so much damage as last year, so interest has dropped considerably. Instead, the removal of antibiotics and its effect on pig health status was the main topic of discussion. That, and avian influenza, which has caused everyone to consider the helplessness of the situation when a major deadly virus virtually destroys an industry.
If you were at the expo, too, I would be glad to read your comments on what attracted your attention.