Tom Crenshaw, animal sciences, is part of a team of land grant swine researchers from around the country to receive the 2013 North Central Region Excellence in Multistate Research Award. the group is being recognized for research that solved problems related to swine nutrition, helping pork producers remain profitable, and providing high-quality pork products to consumers worldwide.
For the past six years, the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors has presented this award in recognition of successful, well-coordinated, high-impact research and extension efforts.
This year’s winning project, “Committee on Swine Nutrition,” is recognized for developing economical feeding programs and dietary guidelines for the swine industry, solving problems with contaminated swine feed, and reducing environmental impacts of swine production.
The United States is the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of pork and exports more pork products than any other country. As the sixth-largest U.S. farm commodity, the pork sector not only provides consumers with quality protein, but is a significant contributor to the nation’s economy. The swine industry faces constant challenges from new environmental policies, novel feedstuffs, and contamination of staple swine feeds like corn. This committee of scientists has developed new technologies and practices to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of swine production throughout the U.S.
Feed costs represent nearly 70% of the total cost of pork production, so research that optimizes swine nutrition is essential to the sustainability of the entire industry. Research conducted by this team of scientists improved pigs’ weight gain and overall health, and reduced piglet mortality, resulting in reduced costs for farmers and higher-quality pork products. For example, today’s pork has 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat than in 1991.
Corn and soybeans—the main staples of swine diets since the 1950s are now being used for ethanol production. Research by this team has identified alternatives that are cost-effective and still meet the nutritional requirements of pigs throughout their lives. In 2010, corn that producers depend on was found to be contaminated with a mold called Vomitoxin. This committee responded to this crisis, deploying treatments to producers in less than four months.
Support for this project comes, in part, from the Multistate Research Fund established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority.
This year’s North Central Region Award of Excellence in Multistate Research honors the outstanding collaboration and commitment of the participating scientists representing 16 different universities in the U.S and federal partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.