This spring, I’ve been involved with the planning/design for several new grow-finish research barns. At World Pork Expo I learned of several other planned facilities. When you combine these new barns with the existing facilities, the research capabilities of private entities in the U.S. is vast.

The big challenge I always ask when new facilities are proposed is is who will be the scientist overseeing experimental design and analysis. The old rule of garbage in equals garbage out still holds!

With the growth in the number of research facilities, producers can expect an increase in the amount of ‘research supported’ product claims. In most cases, the claims will be backed by valid research, but not always!

I’ve been struggling to come up with a list of 5-10 key questions to ask someone presenting you with product data from private research facilities. I still don’t have all of the questions formulated but it is something for all of us to think about. Just because ‘research’ was conducted in a large facility doesn’t mean it isn’t biased in some manner by how the trial was planned and conducted.

In addition to the question regarding the ‘scientist’ you’ve got to think about quality control. Who was on-site to be sure the protocol was followed in detail? Weights can be generated to fill data tables but if a pig died and didn’t get recorded correctly as to date of removal and weight, the pig days for computing feed intake and the total pounds of gain for that pen are inaccurate. Readers of this blog who are familiar with large research facilities can come up with a long list of daily barn management issues that can ‘taint’ the data.

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