Welcome to the Pig Pen! I was recently at the Indiana State Fair where news was circulating around the hog barn about Jim Grimm selling his herd and retiring. Jim has been a friend of mine for a number of years, and someone who I’ve always admired and respected both as a talented hog breeder and even more as a genuine, honest person. While I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear the news, I was a bit saddened. It caused me to begin thinking about the relationships created at hog shows, in the hog industry and in our everyday work-lives. I began thinking about people from my past that I’ve lost touch with because of changes in our work-lives. I began looking around the barn at all the young faces in this industry, wondering how many of them would have the talent, drive and perseverance to survive and thrive in this tough industry the way Jim did.
The showpig industry faces a number of challenges going forward. There are a number of “inner” challenges that constantly need to be addressed. Issues of integrity are always present, whether it’s related to purebred integrity, birth-date, questionable feed additives, or corrective procedures to fix foot issues, this industry will need strong leaders going forward to stay on the right path. Even more threatening will be “outer” challenges; those issues over which we as individual breeders have very little control but which threaten the very existence of the showpig industry.
Consider this: We are very likely only one foreign-animal-disease outbreak away from having hog shows nationwide completely shut down. This could be a temporary shutdown or it could be permanent. Something like FMD (foot and mouth disease) would very likely end the showpig industry as we know it. We’ve already seen several examples of what can happen when there is a flu outbreak at a hog show. These situations scare the public. A foreign animal disease scares the entire swine industry, as well as the public. In the face of these potential threats, how will you react and adapt?
Youth livestock shows like we have here simply do not exist in other countries. In this regard we are very unique. The showpig industry needs strong leaders with integrity, intelligence, work-ethic, common-sense and perseverance to navigate the road ahead. This leadership starts at home in your very own barn. Always be honest. Have integrity. Breed true, honest hogs that will make the next generation better. Follow the rules and health regulations. Use a good veterinarian and keep your pigs healthy and well-cared-for. Defend our industry by doing things the right way at home and at the shows. Then when the time comes to defend our industry to the public, you can do it with pride knowing that we have nothing to hide!
I gave Jim a call when I got back from Indiana. I caught up to him in Denver attending his niece’s wedding. “Practicing retirement” is what he called it. Jim is going to hang on to a few crossbred sows for some local fair pigs and I’m sure I will still see him at a few hog shows. We’re going to visit this fall to take a look at some of the first Outsider offspring before they go to their new home in Indiana. I wish Jim all the best in this new phase of his life! He navigated through tremendous change in the purebred industry in his time as a breeder. He saw many come and go and he ended up on top! I challenge the young people in this industry to follow Jim’s example and lead this industry forward with integrity. Who among you can do it? Who will be the next Grimm?
Jack from WI,
What kind of microscope do I need to look at boar semen?
A brightfield microscope with 100x, 200x, and 400x magnification will do the trick. That’s a 10x eyepiece with 10x, 20x, and 40x objectives. Many won’t have the 20x, but that’s ok. You can find the cells and focus using the 10x then switch to the 40x for a better look. It’s important to get the light adjusted correctly. Many people use too much light and struggle to see anything at all. Start with the light level low and turn it up slightly as needed. You can use monocular (one eyepiece) or binocular (two eyepieces) depending on which you are most comfortable with. Most choose binocular. This kind of scope is inexpensive and works just fine for evaluating live/dead cells on semen you’ve purchased. Combined with a SimpleCount Sperm Kit you can also check the concentration (number of cells in your dose). If you are collecting semen for sale, we’d want to look at a higher-end, phase-contrast microscope or a CASA system.
Chad from Webster City, IA,
A friend suggested I use Ovugel after Matrix. I wanted to talk to someone with experience before trying this. Have you had success?
Our experience using Ovugel after Matrix has been too variable to call it a success. We’ve used a number of different protocols and haven’t found a really reliable one to date. We’ve been very successful using Ovugel on weaned sows both in our showpig farm and in commercial units that we manage. For those not familiar with Ovugel, it’s a product to induce ovulation in order to facilitate a single, fixed-time insemination and achieve normal conception and litter sizes. In other words, you use only one dose of semen. We’ll probably practice further with some groups of gilts in the future, but for now my advice is to stick to using it after weaning.