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FDA guidelines for antimicrobial use

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April 21  |  antibiotics, Beef, Dairy, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Latest News, Nutrition  |   Webmaster

FDA Publishes Guidances to Limit Use of Antimicrobials (antibiotics) in Livestock Production

Apr. 13, 2012 12:48pm

    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a series of three documents in the Federal Register today as part of an effort to alter the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. 

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National Pork Board

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a series of three documents in the Federal Register today as part of an effort to alter the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.

In a statement prior to today’s publication, FDA indicated that the issuance of three new documents will help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems. Under a new voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called “production” purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian. There will be a three-year “phase in” period before these changes will become effective, but the exact dates of the phase-in period currently remain unspecified.

“It’s critical that we take action to protect public health,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective. We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available.”

The three documents published in today’s Federal Register include:

·         A final guidance for the industry, Guidance 209, “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals,” that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in  veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.

·         A draft guidance, Draft Guidance 213, open for public comment, which will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.

·         A draft proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways that veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, which is important to make the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.

FDA’s guidance documents do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidance documents are meant to describe the FDA’s current thinking on a topic. As the American Association of Swine Veterinarians pointed out in a news release, it should be noted that FDA intends to work with drug manufacturers to remove label indications for growth promotion and feed efficiency from products considered important for human health. Once these products are no longer labeled for production uses, it will be illegal for veterinarians or producers to utilize medicated feeds for these purposes.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is concerned that lost and restricted access to antimicrobial products expected to result from these steps likely will disproportionately affect small producers, have a negative effect on animal health, and increase the cost of producing food while not improving public health.  NPPC makes the point that this action is a move to address an increase in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans, which opponents of modern animal agriculture blame on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production. 

However, numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments, including at least one by FDA, show a “negligible” risk to human health of antibiotics in food-animal production, according to NPPC.

Tom Talbot, a California beef producer, veterinarian and current chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, issued a statement that raises key points on this issue. “Antimicrobial resistance is a multifaceted, extremely complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed solely by focusing on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Prudent and responsible evaluation of this issue must consider animal, human and industrial use of antibiotics. While we appreciate the agency working with industry on the implementation of Guidance 209, we remain committed that a strong science foundation is critical before moving forward with this guidance,” he states.

John Clifford, DVM, USDA Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, says, “USDA worked with FDA to ensure that the voices of livestock producers across the country were taken into account, and we will continue to collaborate with the FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association and livestock groups to ensure that the appropriate services are available to help make this transition.”

FDA is currently accepting comments on Draft Guidance 213 and on the Veterinary Feed Directive document. Submit comments on these documents by the date provided in the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the Draft Guidance (July 12, 2012). Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments on the draft guidance to Identify all comments with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.

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FDA ruling on Antibiotics in Feed

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April 15  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Dairy, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Pork, Poultry, Research  |   Webmaster

We have posted several articles about concerns of the over-use of antibiotic additives in feed for various farm operations.  This past week the FDA finally weighed in with a decision to hava a “voluntary ban” on this practice, while gathering information, comments, and results from operators, consumers, and the differing factions of the medical and scientific communities.  

There have been many differing views on this subject, but this FDA ruling seems to be seeking the middle ground.  We will continue  to follow developments on this story.  In the meantime, here are some links from different sources:

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Swine PRRS

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October 2  |  Farm, food safety, Livestock, News, Newsletters, Pork, Reports, Tests, Research  |   Webmaster

 Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome  (PRRS)

We had a situation I want to share with you. I do not have the customer’s permission to share his personal information, but we did something pretty important on a hog barn in Canada.

It all started with the customer calling me about 2 years ago.  I was actually at the Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.  He talked to me for about 1 1/2 hours on the phone and we decided we needed to get a water report, which he agreed with.  To make a long story short, the customer did not get the report back to us.  Time went by and a year ago, we placed a Dealer in their area. The Dealer followed up with the customer and sold them Oxy Blast and companion products, since they had tried everything else and were not happy with the results.  The customer commented that the price was good for most of the other products, but they were using a product that was costing them about the same, or maybe a little more, than Oxy Blast.

They had a blood viral infection in their hogs.  So, they used Oxy Blast at high levels that we recommended and  a little while later, the hogs started doing really well.  The customer started believing in the product, so we started a protocol of prevention and using the product while documenting results. The customer did an Elisa in July after using Oxy Blast according to our protocol.  The Elisa showed that the customer had PRRS Positive. From what I understand, this is a test to see if PRRS was ever present at any point. To find out if they currently have PRRS they do a Titer, but the Titer came back Negative;  meaning there was none there! This customer has had an increase in the pigs they sell to a local butcher shop because of the quality of the meat & fat content and the customers say that it’s the best tasting pork they have ever had. This customer now calls me on a weekly basis to discuss what they should do next.  We have them on some additional protocols that are proving a lot of interesting things. 

This is just another of our many success stories from livestock producers.


Organic Cow Calf Operation

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October 2  |  Case Studies, Farm, News, Newsletters, Research  |   Webmaster

The following is a testimonial from an Organic Cow-Calf operator that used our product.  He was so impressed that he became a Dealer 2 years ago. I put him on the phone with a customer the other day and he started mentioning all these different things that were happening to people around him. I asked him to send me a note.


Hi Zak,

Over the duration of my experience with oxyblast I have witnessed the following results at home and on customer’s property:

–  A customer had manganese in his water, that over a number of years, plugged the holes in the well crib to the point that he could pump his well dry and observe the number of holes still open.  He talked to me and asked me to shock treat the well with Oxy Blast.  A shock treatment was done at 500 PPM,  and an additional purge of 100PPM, then letting the well stand for six hours.  When the customer pumped his well he could see that 8 additional holes had opened up.  

Another shock treatment was done much stronger than the first.  The water in the well was bubbling pretty good.  This second shock treatment opened up 10 additional holes in the crib.  This was a 40 year old well that had years of magnesium build up.


–  At home the iron was high enough that white clothes could not be washed without staining.  With the introduction of Oxy Blast into the water,  white clothes were washed and there was no staining.  Since then an iron filter has been installed to remove most of the iron from the water.  (happy wife)


–  Livestock producers have reported that there is less ice build up around water bowls in winter.  Probably because water does not smell and it tastes better, so animals drink instead of licking and splashing it to get used to it before they drink.


–  A producer with sulphates in the water noticed that with Oxy Blast in the water,  the livestock quit coughing and their feet improved and the manure tightened up.  The livestock also consumed less free choice mineral.  When animals had hoof rot on summer pasture, the rancher hauled the cows home to drink the Oxy Blast water and the feet healed.


~ By the way – he just won Organic Farmer of the year! ~

I eat; you farm

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June 12  |  Farm, Latest News, News, Nutrition  |   Webmaster

I eat. You farm. So what?

A recently overheard conversation at a suburban grocery store between a person buying food with comments from a farmer who was visiting and knew how to meet people on common territory instead of talking “ag.”


Here’s the thing; I don’t really get why farmers are on the warpath. Really! We can get our food from anywhere. I just care that our family has food that’s affordable and safe. And I’ve heard some pretty bad things about you farmers.

You are poisoning water and soil by using pesticides and insecticides. Our family plays in the creeks and ponds on our land. Our kids chase fireflies through soybean fields, while playing hide and seek in corn fields. Do you really think we’re going to pour poisons in fields that surround our family home?  By the way, our well for water is between the house and the field. We understand that it’s not cool to use bad chemicals, which is why we rely on a whole lot of science, research and technology to ensure we’re using the right products.

Food plate & farmerBig farms are bad, and you all seem to be getting bigger. What size of school does your child go to? There are many different sizes of schools that offer options and choices for families. Likewise, we have a mix of large and small businesses in America due to our free marketplace. The same is true for farm families; some choose to farm a large number of acres or work with many animals, while others have small operations.  97% of farms in the U.S. are still owned by families; they deserve a right to choose the best option for their family and business like other Americans, don’t they?

Animals are abused on today’s farms. I’ve worked with animals my whole life. If you’ve seen the sensationalized videos from animal rights groups, I want you to know they probably impact me even more than you.  Animals that live in barns are actually in a lot better conditions – they get to stay at one temperature, avoid predators and have a environment that’s customized to their every need. Barns do look different today than in 1970, but isn’t the same true of computers, doctors offices and stores? Yes, animals die to feed humans, but we respect their sacrifice and care for them in the best way possible.

I’ve heard farm subsidies are making you rich on our tax dollars. There are a lot of mixed opinions on this, even within agriculture. However, the big thing people don’t realize about the “farm” program is that 86% of it is for mothers and children in need of food assistance. And I’m not asking for a handout from anyone, but we manage millions of dollars of risk every year – sometimes the safety net has kept our family in business – and is a tiny part of our national budget.

Biotechnology is evil. Do I look like Satan? Sorry, just joking. Our family chooses biotechnology because it’s the right tool for our farm. But more importantly, there are a lot of hungry people around the world, a problem that’s getting worse with a growing population. I was on a mission trip last year to Africa and saw some this myself. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a hungry child? It haunts me – and that’s why biotechnology is a tool that we choose.

Hormones are making our kids develop way too soon! I have a daughter, so I get your concern – we don’t want to have kindergarteners in bras. Kids are growing more and faster because our diets are better.  Did you know there’s more hormones in a serving of broccoli than in a steak? People need to remember that all food has hormones – and it always has.

It’s been interesting to talk with you.  Are you on Facebook or are there ways we can stay connected? Sure, would be glad to connect with you. Our farm’s Facebook page has a lot of pictures to give you an inside look on what’s happening.  I’m also on Twitter and will put up some videos to show you what we’re doing during harvest. I’d also suggest you check out these websites…

Cool. I like that we share the same values. We may not always agree, but I appreciate what you do as a farmer a lot more after we’ve talked.  And I’ll remember you when I shop for our food.


If you’re buying food, when have you sought out a person involved on a farm or ranch? Same for those in agriculture… when was the last time you truly made an effort to relate on human terms instead of ag terms?

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New MRSA Strain

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June 6  |  Case Studies, Farm, food safety, Latest News, News, Reports, Tests, Research  |   Webmaster

New MRSA strain found in UK dairy cattle

Farmers June 3, 2011 | By Jack Davies

A NEW strain of antibiotic-resistant MRSA has been discovered in UK dairy cows for the first time, and scientists believe it may now be being passed on to humans who come into close contact with infected animals.

The new strain of Staphylococcus aureas was discovered in samples of milk by researchers carrying out a study into mastitis in dairy cows. The study, due to be published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that unlike other human strains of the bacteria, the new form of the bacteria cannot be identified using a common test for MRSA.

Researchers have now identified evidence that cattle could act as a reservoir for the bacteria, raising the risk of passing it on to farm workers and others who come into
close contact with dairy cattle.

Studies carried out by the team found that in geographical locations where they identified the new strain in cattle, they also found an incident of the strain infecting humans. In total, the research team discovered 12 confirmed cases of the new strain in humans in Scotland, 15 in England and 24 in Denmark.

The discovery however is not thought to be a public health risk as pasteurisation would kill the bacteria, said Dr. Mark Holmes, senior lecturer in preventive vet medicine at Cambridge University.

“It is important to stress that drinking milk or eating dairy products is not a public health risk,” he said.  “The main worry is that dairy cows represent a pool of infection and it could infect people who live and work on farms and they could then take that out into the wider community.”

Even for farm workers, the risks may be small as MRSA typically doesn’t cause disease unless the infected person has a weakened immune system such as after an operation. Where concern could come however is if farmers and farm workers pick up the bacteria and spread it to a susceptible person in the wider community, it could lead to a serious

Similarly there could be risks from drinking unpasteurised milk, although Dr Holmes said the risk was low and he would be more concerned about contracting Brucellosis than he would about the new strain of MRSA.  Dr. Holmes said it was not yet clear how prevalent the new MRSA strain is, but the study showed it could be present in almost three per cent of the UK dairy herd.

The Soil Association used the discovery to reiterate its calls for an end to routine antibiotic use. Helen Browning, director of the Soil Association said “In the relentless drive for increased per animal productivity, and under acute price pressure, dairy systems are becoming ever more antibiotic dependent.

“We need to get farmers off this treadmill, even if that means that milk has to cost a few pennies more. That would be a very small price to pay for maintaining the efficacy of these
life-saving drugs.”

The claims were dismissed by Dr. Holmes who said dairy farmers faced with a mastitis problem were understandably going to use antibiotics to combat infection and that it was unfair to suggest it was causing the rise of so-called superbugs.

Readers’ comments

Charles Henry | 3 June 2011 8:14 am

So now it’s it? Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Staph a).
WHAT A COINCIDENCE! They’ve found another stick to beat the farmers and
agriculture with, just as the pressure grows to deal with rise and rise of M.bovis in the wildlife.

I’ve been campaigning about the rise of MRSA in our hospitals for nigh on 20 years now. It’s a killer in the hospital environment; have no doubts about it. . I dubbed it ‘MISERY’ years ago. But the more we protested, the more they just stated it was an everyday bacteria that was being brought in with the patients and by the general public and visitors.

But now the ‘experts’ are on the march again with their new stick! You couldn’t make it up!!!

All material published on is copyrighted © 2011 by UBM Information Ltd.   All rights reserved.

Ponds, dugouts, lagoons

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May 15  |  Farm, Livestock, News, Newsletters  |   Webmaster

Open All for Ponds, Dugouts
Septi Sol (now OpenAll ) for Manure Pits and Lagoons

Recently, I was asked by a distributor if I knew of a way to treat a pond or dugout (that is being used for animal drinking water) for the presence of algae and bacteria. I told him I knew of the perfect product for him to use. It is called Open All and I introduced him to a product called Septi-Sol. at the same time.
Open All is a blend of trace minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and a product called deuterium sulfate. When added to water, Open All will get rid of the algae and anaerobic bacteria in the pond water or dugouts because deuterium has the ability to split the hydrogen from the oxygen in a water molecule to oxygenate the water.
Creating extra oxygen is also important for manure pits and lagoons. The extra oxygen, trace minerals, amino acids and the enzymes help feed the aerobic bacteria to break down the solids and dramatically reduce the odor in pits and lagoons.
Dave Kennedy (my former boss who helped get the peroxide and Oxy Blast business started) and I started selling Septi Sol in 1997 for treating manure pits and lagoons. The product was tested in a lab at Iowa State University and revealed that dissolved oxygen levels could be increased four to six fold! With more oxygen available for natural biological activity, odors are quickly reduced or eliminated; ammonia and other gases are reduced, and manure is degraded biologically to reduce the solids in the pit or lagoon.
Septi-Sol also has the ability to convert the manure into a valuable nutrient for the soil. The nitrogen present in the manure will be turned into single cell proteins, enzymes, natural antibiotics, free amino acids and polypeptides that become a natural organic nitrogen fertilizer in a micro solid form. This end product serves as an excellent soil conditioner adding natural benefits like improved soil texture, depth of water percolation and better water retention.

Enzyme production

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May 15  |  Dealer Resource Reference Library, Farm, food safety, Livestock, News, Newsletters, Nutrition, Research, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

When Livestock or humans drink Oxy Blast proprietary hydrogen peroxide formula it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth specifically through the tongue and under the tongue. Where are humans told to put their nitroglycerin tablets for fast action when they have chest pains due to angina? Under the tongue!

The blood oxygen level of the animals will then go up. (this is really evident in white hogs when you see their color turn a bright pink after drinking Oxy Blast)

Once Oxy Blast is in the blood, it encounters two enzymes: catalase and cytochrome-C. Catalase drives the normal reaction to completion immediately. That part of the Oxy Blast that binds with cytochrome-C, however, is not allowed to become water and singlet oxygen for a period of forty minutes.

After forty minutes of being bound to cytochrome-C this enzyme begins to act like catalase and breaks down the Oxy Blast to water and singlet oxygen.

By this time, the Oxy Blast /cytochrome-C complex has been spread throughout the body. In this way, the benefits of Oxy Blast are made available to all cells. Remember just cleaning your water is not enough to create this reaction.

You need CLEAN YET NUTRITIONAL WATER TO ACCOMPLISH complete benefits. Oxy Blast does not only clean water it also is the most nutritional product out there.

Bees & Birds

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May 4  |  Farm, Latest News, News, testimonials  |   Webmaster

Hi Zak, 

Talked to Walter and they went ahead and treated their bee hives with Oxy Blast. He figured it was about 1000ppm.  He then spun the cones to remove all the Oxy Blast, just like they do to take the honey out.  All the bees are doing well. He also told me he got in a flock of 6,600 birds and ran Oxy Blat at 300ppm for 4 days then backed off to 100ppm. His dead loss was .4 of one percent (.004%).  Always before his dead loss was 6 or more percent (6%).  That is the best looking flock he has ever had! We have got another happy customer.


On-farm Trials

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March 13  |  Case Studies, Farm, News, Newsletters, Reports, Tests, Research  |   Webmaster

Our Newsletter this month comes from an article that we did not write.  But it confirms our belief in what we try to achieve with all of our farm operator customers.

This article came to us from the Prairie Swine Centre Website. It was written by Lee Whittington MBA and LeAnn Johnston PhD.  It is bang on………….


“The pork industry is blessed with a number of innovators. I recall surveys from decades ago, that compared the speed of adoption of new technology by the various commodity sectors, and pork producers were always very near the top of the chart. Perhaps it is the rapidity of turnover in the barn that lends itself to seeing a difference in management quickly. Maybe the intensive agricultural systems attract a certain type of person with a curious mind? Whatever the reason, it is without a doubt, that all pig farms participate to a greater or lesser extent in experimenting to improve productivity, reduce costs, or make management easier.  Sometimes, the results of such experimentation are as expected – For example, the pigs on the higher energy, more expensive diet grew more quickly.  Often however, the results, the time and effort, and money required to innovate and experiment, results in more questions than answers and does not lead to an innovation being adopted on the farm as part of a new long-term management strategy.  This paper will help to explain why results are not always what we expect and how to improve your odds of success in future on-farm trials.

Why you should do an on-farm trial

Many new technologies come with all the work completed, including the change we can expect, the confidence in the statistical approach used to analyze the test, plus the economic benefit of implementation under a standard set of economic assumptions.

So why would you want to take on organizing an on-farm test yourself? There are
several reasons to test something on the farm. Typically, the top reasons given by innovative producers are:

1) “The proof is in the pudding” or “My situation is different and I don’t believe just because it works elsewhere ,it will work on my farm”.

2) “The idea is mine and I don’t know of anyone else that has tried it, so I need to find out for myself.”

3) “I read/heard about this idea from another country and think it might work here.”

Yes, no two barns are exactly alike, even though they may be designed to operate the same; the ‘people factor’ adds a unique component that makes a significant difference to the outcome of many practices or products used.  For example, we can standardize feeding times, amounts fed and diet formulation; but can we be sure that the ventilation system is managed the same, or that how the pigs are handled is identical? This latter point was reinforced with Paul Hemsworth’s work two decades ago, where the interaction between the stockperson and pig varied significantly from farm to farm. Based on the previous handling experience of the animals – some herds were curious and approached, while others were generally fearful and fled from people.  So there are differences between barns and thus reasons to believe that an on-farm trial would produce a more reliable result than information gathered on other farms.  There are, of course, circumstances that lead us to think it is not necessary to do my own on-farm trial.  For example, to confirm the effectiveness of a vaccine or pharmaceutical treatment specific to a disease and to test the product, would require you to allow an outbreak of the disease on your farm.  Not a good candidate for an on-farm trial.  Most on-farm trials have an economic decision that they are trying to address. This adds
to the complication of the study, because the experiment should be able to capture both positive and negative results.  What is the benefit we are hoping to achieve and what is the cost to achieve it?  The cost is often easy to find (example, feed cost per kg, or drug cost per dose) but the performance result in the barn (the statistically tested part), is much more difficult. A review of any scientific publication will focus on the significant “P” value.  That is, the results are not random and there is a 95% probability that the effect seen from the intervention is from the treatment given (p <0.05).

So how do I achieve this level of confidence that the intervention (feed, drug, etc) worked and should be considered as part of my ongoing management of the barn? There are two related questions, because not all studies result in a statistically significant conclusion.  What if the intervention didn’t work – was it the product in question or was the experimental test just not sensitive enough to detect the small improvement? Should I then not use this intervention on my farm? Lastly the results are unclear and other information is required to make the decision. Perhaps the trial was not designed
properly and cannot answer the question you ask.

Why on-farm tests often fail

The reasons are many but break down into five main categories (First noted by Deen 2009):

1) The trial design would not provide the answer you seek. This sounds very basic and avoidable but likely accounts for a majority of the on-farm test failures. What happens if the intervention has multiple outcomes? For example, a small improvement in average daily gain, feed efficiency and improvement in one or two carcass features. Do the combined improvements in each of these areas justify the intervention? When the improvement in feed efficiency alone is enough to justify the intervention the answer is clear – adopt the new technology. What if only small gains are made in each area? Likely, the reality is the study needs to be redesigned to include many more pigs to identify small gains. Should you increase the analytical power of the test by having more
groups of pigs on trial? (“Setting Up an Effective Farm Trial” – Lee Whittington MBA, LeAnn Johnston PhD [Deen 2009])

2) Consideration of prior knowledge of the item to be tested and the pig barn we are testing in. If the item we are testing has a history of performance under other circumstances (even in species other than pigs), that gives us a clue as to how big a difference we are seeking to measure. What is the variation located within the test herd prior to the test? This knowledge of health status, quality of pig, and variation in key factors such as daily gain are the inherent background ‘noise’ within the barn. We need to account for this ‘noise’ to ensure our test can be interpreted.

3) Danger of believing your test analysis when actually it is worthless. Statistically, a negative result of a single study cannot be interpreted as supporting a negative conclusion. This really only means that we are not satisfied ‘beyond a doubt’ (p<0.05% probability) that the product performed as expected.

4) “A micrometer question is often measured with a ‘yard-stick’. …The scale of the economic benefit required to justify an intervention is much smaller than the capability of the statistical test created.” (Deen, 2009). Lets use an analogy to explain this concept. If we are trying to measure the impact of a wave of amplitude 1 cm (a daily gain improvement of 20 grams per day) passing through our test population (pig barn) and the variation in the test population is viewed as a wave with amplitude of 1km (days to 120 kg varies from 135-230) you get the idea. There is so much variation already within the population that it would take a large number of data points (pens of pigs) to sort out the effect of the
smaller wave.

5) Data collection or the ‘people factor’. We could write chapters on examples of tests that never had a chance of answering the original question. The greatest is kindly referred to as planting and harvest disease – known distractions that will occur during the course of the test need to be dealt with in advance. Getting stockpeople on side, arranging additional help to collect information (using summer students in July – is the result valid in January?), not fudging data when it is lost (the pigs ate my homework!), having a backup plan when people unexpectedly leave, having the
right measurement tools (is the scale accurate enough to pick up the difference anticipated?) and intervention procedures operating well and checked regularly to ensure they continue to operate as expected over the trial period, all
the feed is made and tested prior to the start of the test (remove batch mixing error and eliminates out-of-feed incidents). There are the whole list of other factors such as ventilation error or power failure, out of water events, feeders adjustable to provide uniform access in all pens and avoid waste, what to do if there is a disease outbreak during the test period, effect of weather and changing seasons on feed intake or dunging patterns, stable parity distribution within the breeding herd, pigs jumping from one pen to another …

One sidebar to the people factor is “when you start to measure something, it generally begins to improve” (Krueger, 2009). For example, when daily feeder and waterer checks are consistently made and acted on, the results of all groups will likely improve because the ‘normal’ out-of-feed events (typically 10% of all feeders in the barn) do not occur during the test period.

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls when setting up your on-farm trial

1)Do the math first. How many groups of pigs will it take to have confidence (sufficient power in the statistical test) that the difference I am trying to measure can be assessed from my trial design? This can be the subject of a graduate course but if you have the patience and interest, some free software on line can help such as

2) Calculate the likely financial benefit of a successful trial. Will it be sufficient to justify the work and cost of conducting the trial? Most businesses will want a 3:1 return on new investment because they realize that biological systems don’t always behave as predicted all the time, so can I expect a $3 return from a $1 intervention?

3) Get the people involved. Everyone that plays a role needs to be aware of the cost and the large risk of failure to complete the trial as designed.

4) Use a checklist like the one attached to plan your successful trial implementation.
The Bottom Line There are many sources of new ideas and technologies awaiting pork producers. Assessing their economic value and appropriateness for your farm should begin with taking the easy route first and looking for third-party verifiable test results that give you confidence the results are repeatable and sufficient to provide a positive economic return under current economic circumstances. If reliable information does not exist but you believe the potential economic benefit is too great to ignore, and you have adequate resources to design and implement an on-farm test then use the Designing your on farm trial – A checklist for success trial checklist to increase your chances for success.


Deen, J., 2009, On-farm field trials: the problem of detecting small but economically
significant differences, American Association of Swine Veterinarians proceedings p 289-290

Krueger, K. 2009, Proper conduct and interpretation of field trials, Minnesota Nutrition
Conference proceedings 248-254.

Davies, Peter, 2010, Field trial design and evaluation, Allan D. Leman Swine Conference
preconference workshop.

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