Meet Austin Egolf, our latest addition to Farm Journal's PORK's Up & Coming Leaders feature. We are showcasing some of the fresh, new voices of the pork industry who combine innovative thought and work ethic with scientific savvy and a passion to make a difference.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Iowa State University; currently pursuing master’s degree in meat science at South Dakota State University
Hometown: Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
Q. How did you become interested in a career in the swine industry?
A. Growing up on a diversified farm operation, I helped with all aspects of the farm. However, I always came back to the swine production side. As I became more exposed to meat science and pork quality through my time working in the meat laboratory at Iowa State University, I realized my passion for all things pork. While at South Dakota State University working under Dr. Keith Underwood and Dr. Robert Thaler conducting research feeding growing finishing pigs diets containing DDGS and evaluating pork quality, it cemented my interest to pursue a career in the swine industry.
Q. Tell us about your internship experiences.
A. I spent the summer between my junior and senior year at Iowa State interning with Tyson Foods Inc, on the Jimmy Dean research and development team under the guidance of Barbara Coty. I was tasked with three projects for the summer, including new product development, installation of equipment in the pilot plant and investigation of new packing technology. This inspired me to further my education.
Q. Describe any undergraduate research experiences you’ve had.
A. I assisted a graduate student at Iowa State University with a project evaluating the effects of nitrite-embedded film packing technology on the color stability and shelf-life of alternatively cured meat products. I assisted in manufacture of the alternatively cured bologna product and with all the data collection and laboratory work that came with the project. I was also given a small undergraduate project at Iowa State further investigating color development of processed meat products packaged in nitrite-embedded film without any added nitrite or nitrate to the meat product.
Q. What other learning opportunities have you been involved in?
A. I grew up on a diversified family farm with a farrowing and a finishing pig operation. To gain a holistic approach to pork production, I had the opportunity to be a part of some on-farm pork processing experiences.
Q. Tell us about your current research.
A. I am studying how feeding increasing levels of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) from the conventional and cold-cook ethanol production methods to growing-finishing pigs impacts growth performance, carcass characteristics and belly quality. I helped conduct a growth trial feeding growing finishing pigs eight treatments, including a control corn-soybean meal and diets containing 20%, 40%, 40% + a withdrawal period (cold-cook only) and 60% inclusion rates of either conventional or cold-cook DDGS. Our team followed the pigs through a commercial pork processing plant and collected and analyzed the carcass and belly quality data. Since DDGS are a popular feed ingredient used in finishing pig diets, the results of this study could help producers and nutritionists alike determine which and how much DDGS from the respective ethanol production method to include in diets to maximize growth and produce quality pork products.
Q. What do you think will be the greatest challenge for your generation going into the swine industry today?
A. The greatest challenge will be strengthening and improving the pork supply chain so it will be able to withstand and continue feeding the population during the next domestic or global emergency that threatens the food supply.
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