Regional FFA Swine Proficiency finalists took part in a Minnesota Pork Board hosted Swine Industry Study tour earlier this summer. The tour stops included Newport Laboratories, Worthington; Chandler Feed and Grain, Chandler; Pipestone Systems, Pipestone; and John Morrell packing facilities in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Tour participants were Jared Krieger of Kerkhoven, Kerkhoven-Murdock- Sunburg FFA Chapter; Molly Frank of Dexter, Spring Valley-Wykoff FFA Chapter; Adam Jans of Fulda, Fulda FFA Chapter; Dan Larson of Medford, Medford FFA Chapter; Jay Staloch of Wells, United South Central FFA Chapter; and Erin Wicker of Kimball, Kimball FFA Chapter.

Each participant earned a $250 scholarship for use towards their FFA swine project or post-high school education by submitting an essay on what they gained from the tour and how it applied to their swine proficiency area. To be accepted on the tour, the Regional FFA Swine Proficiency finalists submitted a letter of reference and completed an application.

At Newport Laboratories, the FFA members learned about autogenous swine vaccines, which researchers formulate to meet health challenges of specific swine herds. The work at Newport Laboratories encompasses customizing vaccines and combining separate vaccines into a single dose.

The Chandler Grain and Feed tour included discussions on grain marketing and the science required to prepare feed rations for swine and other livestock farmers. Tour participants found the complexity and variations in feed rations an interesting aspect of swine production.

While touring Pipestone Systems, the FFAers learned about its unique business structure that allows hog farmers in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota to remain independent by jointly owning sow facilities to assure a steady supply of high health feeder pigs for their individual farms, in addition to how they share services such as herd health and nutritional management.

At John Morrell, the group learned about animal welfare practices incorporated into the delivering and unloading of hogs at the plant, the carbon dioxide euthanasia process, as well as the making of bacon and hams, product storage, shipment and food safety inspections throughout the process.

Common amongst all participants’ essays was an appreciation to meet other young people with an interest in swine production and the opportunity to learn more about the pork industry.