Teachers learn about pork production, consumption

Photo by Crystal Reed.Jenny Jackson, Director of Communications for Illinois Pork Producers, presents information during a program at the state meeting of the Illinois Family Consumer Sciences Teachers Association held at the Thelma Keller Convention Center on Tuesday.

The Illinois Family and Consumer Science Teachers Association met Tuesday in Effingham and focused on sustainable farming.

One of the presentations at the Thelma Keller Convention Center was led by Josh Flint, associate director of communications, talent acquisition and retention at The Maschhoffs of Carlyle, Illinois. The Maschhoffs have around 180,000 sows that produce piglets and they are in six different states.

Five of today’s pigs are equal to eight of the pigs that were produced in 1959, according to Flint. He added that today’s pig is a lot leaner, having less than an inch of back fat.

Flint said that about 2/3 of their operating budget goes to feed. He said that generally there will be about 8-10 feed formulations from the time that piglet is weaned to when they go to the packing plant. Despite all the formulations, it is pretty much corn and soybean meal.

Some of the reasons that pigs are raised indoors include weather, being able to take better care of them and when they use the bathroom they use a slatted floor and the manure is later used to fertilize crops.

All of their facilities are shower-in and shower-out facilities. When you enter you must shower and put on clothing that is provided. They have caregivers that go from barn to barn and this is necessary to keep from picking up something from another barn and bringing it to another barn.

“Anyone in the pig industry would tell you that we would much rather prevent disease than treat it,” Flint said. The farrowing room is also cleaned once all the sows farrow the room is pressure washed.

Flint said that pork production has increased 84% from 1960 to 2015 and the environmental impact has decreased. According to a study from the University of Arkansas, when compared pound per pound to 1960, pig farmers today use 75.9% less land, 25.1% less water, have reduced the carbon footprint by 7.7% and have reduced energy use by 7%. These reductions have been made possible by improved pig feed and watering systems, Smart Barn technology and increased crop yields.

Land use would take an 18-hole golf course and cut it down to a four-hole course. For water use that is attributed to a wet-dry feeder that mixes water into the feed. Energy reduction, the feed comes in and drops feeds as a sow moves around a mechanism.

Reductions in carbon footprint, every time they apply manure it’s offsets the need for anhydrous ammonia or synthetic fertilizers.

Flint talked about herd veterinarians that look out for the needs of a herd of animals instead of a standard veterinarian that may focus on one animal.

Another presentation focused on how recently the USDA guidelines were updated for safely cooking whole cuts of pork to a medium rare internal temperature of 145 degrees Farenheit.

Jenny Jackson, director of communications for Illinois Pork Producers, said each pig gets a special diet depending on the age, weight, gender and whether they are going to become moms. They will have eight to 10 feed formulations during their lifetime.

A market hog is only 6-months-old they are weaned in three weeks and at 6 months they are 280 pounds which is market weight. They get feed and water 24/7 and are vaccinated as needed and the barns are sanitized between each rotation of pigs.

Jackson said if you hear people talk about pasture raised cattle or pork, pigs cannot be fed grass only diets.

“Pigs and humans are the same we are monogastrics, we cannot process the fiber in grass well enough to sustain ourselves like cattle can,” she said.

The pork tenderloin has 22 grams of protein and the pork sirloin has 24 grams of protein.

Jackson said that they suggest medium rare cooking to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, there is an exception though.

“Ground products must be cooked to 160 degrees and that is simply because they have been exposed to air and chopped up,” she said. “A whole muscle cut such as a chop or loin is simply cut away from the body and not exposed to air so it is safer at a lower cooking temperature.”

Christy Riddle of Pleasant Hill is a family consumer science teacher who attended the meeting.

“Networking is always a big deal and learning about what we can take back to our classroom,” she said.

Regina Birch of Piasa said that the meeting has been a learning experience for her.

“I’ve learned a lot of ways to prepare recipes and ways to increase nutrition, getting ideas to make the classroom more exciting and about establishing an FCCLA program,” she said.

Crystal Reed can be reached at crystal.reed@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 131

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