Cull-sow market endangers foreign animal-disease prevention

you hi I'm Joe phix editor of peg health today and with me is dr. Jim Lowe he is a veterinarian for Lowe consulting and also an associate professor at the University of Illinois Jim thank you for joining us today thanks Joe glad to be here you've been doing a lot of work with the movement of cull cells this is probably an issue that a lot of people haven't given much thought to what prompted you to take a hard look at this well it really started with PDA and 14 it doesn't seem seems like it was yesterday but we did a project with pork Board and ASD and NP PC and we asked a question I got to quarterback a group of veterinarians we went to seven packing plants and we said what is the risk of a truck being contaminated with PE d at the packing plant we're trying to understand how do PD move around and so we pulled that out and not surprisingly if a truck went into the packing plant in an unloaded after a truck that was positive it was high risk of being contaminated so we could document that there was transmission of disease at the packing plant so that was there been some work done in sue rabies a blue moon ago and but nobody'd really looked at that with modern diseases and so that became kind of a key point so then we started asking and thinking about some other questions so we've done some projects with work board about how does it physically get transferred at the plant and then recently we know we've had some Seneca Valley virus appearing in the US and so it's started to circulate and Seneca Valley is a virus that causes blisters around the nose and the coronary band on the foot and the problem at Seneca Valley is it's not a big deal for the pig but Seneca Valley looks just like foot and mouth disease or classical swine fever so it looks like a foreign animal diseases identified in Seneca Valley was is that we don't see a lot of breaks and farms but they were seeing positive sows that were appearing at the harvest plants in the call Sol market and so we started asking some questions and generally and we said okay so these farms are negative when they leave the farm yet they have lesions when they show up at the plant USDA was having to trace all those back and yep there's nothing going on at the farm they're having do full for enamel disease investigations so that's a problem right I mean there's there's a hassles of that and so the Swan Health Information Center which is funded by pork board and Paul Sundberg runs that they're really their mission is to deal with these how do we deal for enamel disease how do we deal with emerging disease issues and so we'd worked with Paul on the previous two projects when it was at pork board and so Paul came back and said hey Jim I know you guys have thought a lot about packing plants and trucks could you think about looking at the coal sale markets for us and help us understand what happens in the coal saw mark and so we said sure we'll have a crack but what's unique about the coal sale market that the swine Health Information Center and you wanted to focus on that so there's a couple of things sinners and one we know very little about the marketing channels for call sales or market hogs in this country right I mean we don't really understand where the pigs originate where do they show up and the big change when we went to voluntary promise ID which is basically become mandatory premises ID today so the federal premise ID number that's getting put you know right sales have to be sold with that in the rear market hogs that has to be on the bill elating when it shows up so we actually have that dated today we just don't capture it so for the first time know we could describe the market but the difference is is that in if we think about market hogs or fat hogs they tend to get leave the farm they get on a truck they go to the plant that truck either goes back to a truck wash or just go straight back to the farm to pick up another load now we know there's risk because we know that those trucks sometimes go from farm one to packing plant to farm to or from system one to system two so there's disease transmission risk there but coal sales are a bit different right we think we try to protect our sow farm health and so we tend to wash the trucks coming back to the South farm but that coal sales don't typically move direct to a plant so they go to a collection point a buying station so leave the farm go to a buying station and then at that buying station those sales are sorted by weight and kind and they're sent to multiple packing plants and that's optimized the value right so that's how the whole chain now sometimes to make a load I've got to move sales between pack buying station one and buying station two collection point one and collection point two so I can get the right load to the right Packer at the right time or sometimes I don't offload them but I'm taking the truck with Sal's on it between so if you think about if there's two networks I've got a South farm Network with trucks and then I've got a buying station network with a packing plant so this right so I've got two disease transmission networks and so the question was are Sal's in that process Seneca probably takes about three days to develop our Styles being exposed from the time they leave the farm until we get to the packing plant in what does that look like and what risk implications that have so we just set out to describe that a bit and and the problem is they bring it to the packing plant I mean that's clearly their last stop but why does that become a disease transmission issue for other – so it it truly qualifies an annoyance right now it's an annoyance in that we're using massive amounts of resources to do the trace packs but that itself probably doesn't prove that we're gonna have a disease transmission mystic the the risk is is that if we understood how Stiles move how does that help us understand if we truly have a foreign animal disease introduced in this country what does the marketing network look like and where do I need to stop movements so I don't drag the disease all over the place that's one of the questions we wanted to ask because it's a probably a national market and it looks very different than what the market is on the fat hook side so have there been any surprises in this I mean how you're learning things about sound movement that either you didn't know or it simply didn't consider before so I don't I don't know if we've learned anything we probably have quantified what we kind of suspected so there's been a committee that chick has put together that's worked on this pretty hard there have been Packer representatives in there some hog by representative certainly producers at the table and veterinarians and so it's been a good discussion to help describe that and and that group has produced a white paper that it does a kind of a casual observation of this right I mean it's very descriptive and that's been helpful but what we learned is what we did is I should tell you what we did because that'd be a bit helpful here so we went to the plant our goal was to describe for a week's worth of slaughter where did those thousand come from and then could we describe what the movements were from the time they left the farm to the time they made the packing plant so we didn't get that done so we did get the sow that slaughter no we didn't get that done so we did get the sows at slaughter and so we could figure out which farms they come from from that premise ID so we knew their farm of origin and here's the state of origin and we could figure out which buying station they came from last so we knew how far we knew how far they went from the farm to the collection point from the collection point to the packing plant but the movements in the middle of there we can't track down and that's cuz it's still a paper-based system so we didn't capture that so that's a learning point right that we've got some work to do if we really want to do rapid trace back because we can't describe that but what we did discover is is that when we looked at the sows and we looked a couple thousand individual South and traced those back to the farm there's about 300 sow farms that those originated from which is pretty staggering so like less than 10,000 that showed up they came from 21 states in one packing plant in one week so we have a national market that has very small lot sizes right which is what you'd expect to 2500 South farms gonna sell 25,000 you're gonna get split multiple ways that all make sense right so we've got little groups coming from a lot of places all the way across this country showing up in a packing plan now about 86% of those sales went from a farm to a local buying station so a relatively close buying station and then we then came to the packing plant but about 14% of those sows traveled a really long distance several hundred kilometers from their source farm to the buying station which doesn't make sense right so we think there's some percentage of those thousand we know that were estimating at 14 percent that are being those are the cells that are moving between buying stations because they're trying to make loads up to get those animals to come in so that's right okay so there's know that percentage now at least a crude estimate of it and there's about two and a half percent of those that move five times as far from the south arm to the buying station as they did from the buying station to the plant so somewhere between two and a half and fourteen percent of those cells are trading within that thing on a weekly basis that's not bad that's just the fact that the industry's made a lot of money off of that so we need to think about that but that's helped us say okay that tells us something about the complexity and it looks very different than the fat hog market so we have to think about it differently and now that you realize how complex it is I mean how does the industry go about tackling this problem so the we've talked to regulators we've we've had some meetings with with both FSIS and USDA APHIS and they're interested in how many state lines do they cross so the average sow crosses like three state lines getting to market from Farm to Market and so that's a concern right and so the idea the big take-home out of this so far as if we have a foot-in-mouth disease break in one state it's likely to be everywhere based on calls out movements within a very short period of time so stopping movement if we just say because I live in Illinois if we stop movement in Illinois that may have already impacted a whole bunch of other things that we think about how these animals move and so it's gonna help them shape and think we need to collect a bunch more data one of the real challenges was we physically took the tags out of their ears and then went back and wrote those Prem ID numbers down by hand keep them into a spreadsheet by hand so you can do that on a couple thousand we probably need tens of thousands to make that work and so we're working now on a camera to take a picture of those and it's some really cool tech so it's a it's a video camera that'll snap a picture of the tag and then there's some fancy software that actually Google uses to figure out house numbers when they do Google Street View so they made that publicly available so we've got a an engineer that's helped to adapt that and so now we can take that tag and pull that from ID off automatically so they're working through how do you build the right camera to put that in a plant it will beta test that here in the next two or three weeks the software works we gotta get the hardware to work we should be in good shape so now we could go into a plant and capture lots and lots and lots of data because we know based on experience that we looked at one week in the spring that this week may not look like the next week and Christmas may not look like July right and so that's the work we've got to do so we've got a prim Lina this is a proof of concept it's complicated but to really get an accurate description of the network we've got to do some more data collection and that's where we're fortunate ahead now and and it sounds like the focus is really on data collection at this point not restricting sound movements and abs absolutely the goal is not it's it's the goal is actually opposite to how do we collect the data so that we can help inform our regulator friends about the right move about the right decisions because you can make a wrong decision on a stop movement you can make it worse and and so what we're saying is no no you don't have enough information to really make good decisions on stop movements if we have a foreign animal disease that so you can make that decision how do we apply big data right is another big data problem how do we go apply big data and engineer the system so we're not making irrational decisions we're gonna measure it and then we're gonna model it and so when they go to fix it they at least know what they're doing before we get to the fixed spot now from what you've said it sounds like you still have a lot of work to do but this is something that would need to be implemented pretty quickly what kind of timeline are you looking at so that this can become a solution well all things are incremental right it's continuous improvement and that's actually how we're looking at it so how do we continue to pull data out I don't view that it's a we collect the data we make some big decision and they move forward that's not what practically is gonna happen because every time something changes every time something changes in the system you're gonna have to change your response and so how do we help the industry measure this on an ongoing basis start to assess risk and there's a lot of smart people in Davos assess risk besides us how do we get that data available so that when that risk assessment can be made that we can adapt and improve over time and again it's it's let's just make it a little better today than it was yesterday and I think that that's a whole strategy it's not there's some magic wand we're gonna pull out of the Hat and fix this is assuming we got a massage it and in the interim what can producers do to try to stop the flow of these diseases to the buying stations or to the nothing nothing nothing yeah and this is about preparedness I think more than doing something today and so how do we think and know and write the old joke is phd's aim aim aim and they never pulled the trigger and veterinarians have shot the gun forty three times and have no idea what they shot at and so we got to get somewhere in the middle of that right and say how do we how do we do this how do we really think like an engineer about engineer about these things and try to engineer a solution not just say oh we're gonna go stick a bandaid on it tomorrow and hope because that the the system will out think is fairly quickly all by itself well it's a complex problem and it sounds like they've got the right guy on it so uh wish you luck with your research thanks very much Joe we've been talking to Jim Lowe he is a veterinarian for Lowe consulting and also an associate professor at the University of Illinois Jim thank you again Thanks you

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