On-Farm Research Guides Production at Hanor

Hanor was one of the early production companies to put in its own research capabilities. Few producers would test just to determine if one vaccine or antibiotic was better than another, but Hanor used experimental methods in a large production setting to validate vaccines, premedication protocols, water medication protocols and more. 

This effort was led by Tara Donovan, DVM, who developed an internal diagnostics lab for viruses with PCR capability in Spring Green, Wis. A second lab was set up in Webster City, Iowa, to conduct microbiology and homologous vaccine preparation. These were vital steps to facilitate rapid decision-making and vaccine efficacy, with cost reduction as a notable but secondary purpose.

Hanor has partnered with PIC in nutritional and genetic research and (informally) with North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Iowa State University to exchange student resources and knowledge for state-of-the-art facilities. 


Divide Sows by Parity

Jeff Mencke at Hanor initiated dividing sows by parity in the design of the Oklahoma system. This allowed R. Dean Boyd, technical director and senior nutritionist at Hanor, to develop age-specific diets and send pigs from younger sows to their own farms, apart from mature sow-farm flows. 

“Hanor recognized the needs of the young female especially in lactation, as well as the management needed for young pigs. That protocol changed with the flu virus, however,” Boyd says. 

“Because of PRRS [Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome], we needed females of all ages in the same airspace in the breeding-gestation room, so we could not feed according to sow age and gestation. Several of the farms are still configured so we can feed them according to parity in lactation, for the most part,” he says.

Farm-specific pig flows allow Hanor to customize nutritional and health needs, provide consistent health and meet production goals.

Boyd notes the greatest challenge for the company is managing disease. The heavy concentration of animals in the Midwest makes it difficult to avoid lateral transmission of certain diseases.

Hanor has done two things to help protect its resources: It is expanding into South Dakota, where hog density is less concentrated; and it has strengthened its biosecurity protocols. The company has returned to using nurseries, which allows for greater environmental control, although this might not be as important for pigs weaned at 23 to 24 days of age (with a range of 19 to 26 days).

Another transformative change involved seasonal fertility. 

“Utilizing students from NCSU allowed us to study seasonal fertility in our system with greater detail,” Boyd says. “We have eliminated seasonal fertility in our North Carolina and Oklahoma systems.”

It also eliminated the need to over-breed during the summer.

“This was a multimillion dollar outcome that provided a major competitive advantage,” he adds. 


This article was featured in the September issue of Farm Journal's PORK. Read the full profile by viewing the digital edition. Adapted for web by Sara Brown.