A demonstration farm in Greensburg, Ind., has opened to help broaden people’s understanding on the use of immunological castration (IC) in U.S. pork production systems. The 500-head nursery-to-finishing facility, owned by Larry Rueff, DVM, provides a real-world setting for pork producers to see Improvest in practice to better assess its merits as a production option.
Improvest, from Zoetis, is an veterinary prescription product, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that is a safe and effective alternative to physical castration.
“Improvest offers pork producers and meat packers a new and more sustainable way to manage the issue of off odors in pork,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “Because this is so revolutionary, Zoetis is committed to educating people across the entire pork chain to better understand the value that can be gained.”
Zoetis introduced Improvest in the U.S. market in 2011 following more than a decade of successful, widespread international use in more than 60 countries. This veterinary prescription product uses the pig’s own immune system to temporarily provide the same effect as physical castration, but much later in a male pig’s life. Improvest expands production options while offering economic benefits favorable to producers.
“We’ve long known about the inherent performance advantages of raising intact males,” said Dr. Rueff, a 30-year practicing veterinarian who co-manages Swine Veterinary Services in southern Indiana. Rueff is jointly supporting the demonstration farm by extending the use of an existing livestock barn on his 120-acre corn and soybean farm. “IC technology now allows producers to take advantage of these benefits while still ensuring the same high level of pork quality and great taste consumers have come to expect.”
As part of the experience, visitors will explore important production topics such as pre-weaning mortality, feed efficiency, split sex feeding and nutritional requirements. In addition, visitors will learn about recent research and field data specifically examining the economic benefits of Improvest. The intact males’ growth efficiencies offer opportunities for optimizing production due to feed savings, reduced piglet mortality and improved market weights.
Through this farm experience, Zoetis hopes to instill confidence that pig performance and meat quality attributes can be maintained through IC technology, which allows producers to deliver a consistent pork supply to U.S. and global markets. It is effective in any production system, as demonstrated by the more than 200,000 IC pigs that have been harvested in the U.S. with Improvest.
Zoetis welcomes visitors to the farm and encourages interested individuals to plan visits around key farm activities. These activities include a two-dose product administration, review of quality assurance protocols certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an evaluation of IC barrow market weight characteristics.