Kneel, sit, stand.........controversy sells

Darin's Pig Pen-- Thoughts from nearly 50 years of life in the swine industry from barnyard to board room. 

Welcome to the Pig Pen! Here we will discuss swine industry issues ranging from commercial production to the show ring. I've been very fortunate in my nearly 50 years on this planet to be presented with so much opportunity and wonderful experiences in an industry for which I have a strong passion. My journey in this industry has taken me to many corners of the world and given me experiences I could never have dreamed of growing up as a scrawny, ornery, red-headed farm kid in southern Wisconsin. I've worked alongside such incredibly gifted people from whom I've learned so much in so many different facets of the industry. I could never adequately repay those who have helped me to reach this point in my life thus far, but it is my intention to share as much as I can with those who share my passion for the swine industry, with hope that I can help others as others have helped me. This is the place I've chosen to share my experiences.

Welcome. I hope you find something enjoyable and useful here. -Darin



The land of the free and the home of the brave has been in an uproar over NFL players staging their protests during the playing of the national anthem at football games. Even if you’ve been living under a rock you had to have heard some of the noise as even President Trump commented publicly about it. Of course, this resulted in further escalation as entire NFL teams including players, coaches, managers and owners united to express their opinions on the subject through social media and on-field demonstrations. People have taken to Facebook and other social media to post videos of themselves burning their NFL gear, promoting bans of the NFL, and otherwise discussing and debating the meaning of it all.


I can certainly understand the emotional reaction this has provoked. Personally, I love the national anthem and the sight of people standing at attention, honoring a symbol of our country and all that it represents. I’ve sat through hundreds of basketball games watching my daughter’s high-school team, many of which included her singing the national anthem after warm-ups, which resulted in her achieving a small bit of Wisconsin fame.


It was an early-season, non-conference game in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. My daughter played for Clinton High, the visiting team that night. As the teams finished warm-ups and lined up for the playing of the national anthem, the gym fell silent. A long pause ensued, in which someone at the scorer’s table could be seen fidgeting with a recorder that apparently wasn’t working. One could sense a little nervous energy in the crowd as it was beginning to appear that they would be unable to play the national anthem. Just then, a six-foot blonde in a Clinton basketball uniform approached the scorer’s table and inquired, “Excuse me sir. Would you like me to sing? I can sing the anthem if you like.” My daughter was handed the microphone and according to legend, belted out the greatest version of our nation’s anthem ever heard. At least that’s what I read on Facebook for the next week. The crowd erupted. Newspaper reporters interviewed her and published stories in the local papers. One of the Madison television channels sent a reporter to school later that week to interview her. Yes, she was on the nightly news.


Sadly, I am telling the story second-handed as I was at the Fall Classic and didn’t get to witness the event in person. The story doesn’t end there. The next week she received a package in the mail. It was a letter from US Senator Orrin Hatch, along with a flag which was flown over the capitol on the day she sang the anthem, to commemorate her moment. Invitations to sing came from the Milwaukee Bucks and the Wisconsin State Fair. She proudly sang the anthem at our state fair prior to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction (our sale of champions) and took selfies with Governor Walker.


While I was very proud of my daughter and happy with her decision, I have to say that the level of reaction was over the top. To this day we affectionately tease her about her stardom and judge each of her anthem performances as to whether or not they are “flag-worthy”. “A little flat on that one note tonight Kalli. I don’t think anyone will send you a flag for that one!” The whole experience really taught me the level of emotion attached to that song. While I’ve always felt it inside me, I guess I never imagined the amount of passion that others felt for it as well. That passion has been on full display this week as the majority of the public reacts to the NFL and their protests. I cannot understand why the NFL, in all its wisdom, cannot see it. The flag is sacred. The anthem is sacred. There are some things that you just don’t mess with. Just because you “have the right” does not make it a good idea. One thing is for sure; this has created a lot of controversy, and controversy sells. Part of me believes that the NFL is loving this because it keeps them in the headlines, keeps them in talk shows, and one way or another it helps generate revenue. My guess is that line of thinking will be put to the test as angry, patriotic Americans from all corners of the country begin turning the channel.    


Today’s questions:


Mark from Iowa,


Tell me about Ovugel. I’ve heard I only need one dose of semen?


Hi Mark,


Thank you for your question. Ovugel is a product by JBS United Animal Health. It’s a gel which is administered vaginally at the front of the cervix using a bottle-mount syringe and a special catheter and sheath. The gel is administered 96 hours after weaning and induces ovulation. Sows are then inseminated 22-24 hours after Ovugel application (day 5 post-weaning) with a single dose of semen. A second service is not necessary. There are a few things necessary to make this work. First of all, the sows must have really good lactation nutrition and feed intake to ensure they will cycle normally after weaning. Secondly, the timing is critical. Don’t wean in the afternoon and administer the product in the morning 4 days later. Don’t breed too soon or too late after administration of the gel. Stick to the program. Also, if you try to breed sows coming off Matrix this way (off-label use) you will likely be disappointed with your results. We utilize Ovugel in our showpig operation and also in commercial farms which we manage. We are extremely pleased with the results. You can read more at Let me know if we can help.   


Lori from Illinois,


Hi Darin. How are these guys getting away with using one dose of semen?

Hi Lori,


Read above haha! There have always been strategies to try to time the insemination to successfully use only one dose of semen. There are only a couple methods that are dependable. One is Ovugel, which I discussed in the previous question. The other is if you can accurately determine the cell count of the dose, there may be enough cells present to divide it into two half-doses and breed the sow with an IU catheter using two inseminations (half dose each). I cannot recommend the latter method unless you know you can count the cells, and if you know you can pass the cervix of your female with an IU catheter. We have the tools for sale to accomplish both, if you are inclined to try. You can search our website for the SimpleCount Sperm Kit and search the web for the video we did about breeding with IU catheters. I hope this helps.

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