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2015 Banff Pork Seminar

Inside BPS Blog

News from the Meristem editors from inside the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

Genomics will drive new era of pork genetic improvement

William Herring

Date posted: January 23, 2015

Genomic technologies that combine genetic analysis with bioinformatics, are set to become a much bigger factor in pork genetic improvement according to William Herring, director of genetic development for PIC, a large international player on the genetics front.

Herring told his audience at the Banff Pork Seminar that PIC has been a leader in the research and application of genomic technologies. However, the effort has historically led to small, incremental changes to the rate of genetic change.

That is about to change, he says. New developments allow genotyping many animals at different cost-effective densities and inputting those results to more meaningful higher densities to improve accuracy.

"We are convinced our approaches provide our populations leading genetic progress for all economically important traits," he says.

"Using our propriety powerful genotyping platform also enables us to move to more cost-effectively and strategically genotype the animal that can provide the greatest progress for our customers.

"In other words we are able to genotype most animals well in front of their selection event to be sure we capture those animals that possess the unique genetic combinations of economically important traits.

"We can in turn quickly process those genotypes through our global genetic improvement system combined with a vast database of pedigrees and numerous economically important traits allowing genomics to have an impact on our indexes."

BPS interest spikes with strong Twitter participation

Date posted: January 23, 2015

A key part of the communications around the Banff Pork Seminar were the timely and lively comments peppering the Twitterverse under #BPS2015.

Live tweets from various participants in a variety of sessions helped expand the conversation and extend the reach of the Seminar. The official @banffpork feed offered a host of important support information for Seminar participants and the feed of communication partner @NewStreamTweets featured off-the-floor commentary and links to articles and blog items showcased in the Inside BPS Special Report.

A broad cross-section of BPS participants and pork industry stakeholders added a wealth of insights to the Twitter discussion.

View a sampling of BPS photo and content tweets here.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

What's a good employee worth?

Richard Taillefer, HyLife

Date posted: January 23, 2015

It's a common discussion among people who run a hog operation of any scale today. What's a good employee worth?

Richard Taillefer, the director sow / nursery production for HyLife, a large hog production operation based in La Broquerie, Man., told delegates at the Banff Pork Seminar in actual dollar terms how much employee retention means to their company.

HyLife says the cost of employee turnover is 50 percent of annual income for less experienced employees and as much as 100 percent or more of experienced employees.

Read more on Taillefer's experience in the full news feature here.

Ruurd's wrap-up for BPS 2015

Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra

Date posted: January 23, 2015

With 616 delegates as a final tally, and great weather as well, there was much to celebrate as program co-chair, Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra wrapped up the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

"We've talked a lot about the changes the industry is undergone and those change are also having an impact on the Seminar itself,' he says.

The conference date is changing to a week earlier, Jan. 12 to 14, 2016. And it will be changing location from the Banff Centre to the Banff Springs hotel.

"Just as the industry has to control cost and risk, that same thinking is important to the seminar," he says. "We want to be able to manage costs through a contract situation that helps ensures registration fees stay reasonable. The Banff Springs has a conference venue all under one roof which will offer better networking opportunities."

Zijlstra also recognized the strong sponsor support BPS has enjoyed. "As an example of what that means to each delegate this year," he told the audience, "without sponsorship this year each delegate would have had to pay about $300 more."

One strength of the Banff Pork seminar, says Zijlstra, is the organizing committee which includes people from across Canada. Those committee members serve for three years, which means a third of the people rotate off each year, he says. That ensures fresh ideas continue to come forward.

Zijlstra encouraged anyone who is interested in being a part of that to contact the seminar organizers to put their name forward.

Banff Pork Seminar shifts venue

Dr. Bob Kemp, 2015 BPS Chair

Date posted: January 23, 2015

The Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is going back to its roots. The 2016 Seminar which will be the 45th anniversary, is headed back to the site of the original seminar, the Banff Springs Hotel. Dates for the 2016 seminar are January 12 to 14.

A key reason for the change in venue is the opportunity to lock in a three year agreement, which is an important cost-control factor for the Seminar, says Bob Kemp, BPS 2015 chair. The new location offers an excellent delegate and sponsor experience. Large meeting rooms offer enhanced visibility during presentations, and convenient centralized breakout locations. And a nearby exhibitors' area will offer convenient traffic flow throughout the seminar.

All of this offers new convenience to the delegates for the socializing that is so much a part of the seminar experience.

Delegates will have some new options for accommodations and all at a price point very similar to the current situation. Sponsors will have strong options for display and enhanced opportunities for interaction with delegates.

"We are excited about our anniversary year and the new location," says Kemp. "Watch the website www.banffpork.ca for more details."

Boar Pit takes aim at hot topics

Boar Pit panelists Dr. Luc Dufrense, Dr. Egan Brokhoff and Kevin Grier

Date posted: January 22, 2015

Bullish market prospects for Canada and the U.S. Increasing stability throughout North America with respect to PED. Pressures facing production in Asia. Exchange rate forecasts. The rising critical importance of biosecurity and rapid communication. The Pig Code and what it means.

These topics and more were part of a lively discussion of hot developments and issues facing the pork industry, during the popular Boar Pit session that wrapped-up the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

The session featured an interactive format, anchored by a panel of industry leaders speaking out on the big issues of the day, with questions and dialogue from an audience of over 200 producers, company reps and other pork industry players.

The panel included market analyst Kevin Grier, Dr. Egan Brokhoff of Prairie Swine Health Services and U.S.-based Dr. Luc Dufresne of Seaboard Foods, along with moderator Shannon Meyers of Fast Genetics, which sponsored the session.

Among key messages from the session:

  • The U.S. view is that 2015 should be a good year for profitability but not like 2014, reports Dufresne
  • Canada has a lot of positives pointing toward a good year as well, observed Grier, but short-term barriers could mute somewhat (through not derail) the rising expansion potential
  • There is increasing stability throughout North America with respect to PED, but the broader world situation is an open question, says Brokhoff
  • Pig Code will require some practice changes and cultural changes, but it also comes with opportunities and that includes boosting the social license of the industry, says Brokhoff

Moderator Shannon Meyers

A clear highlight to celebrate was the progress made on PED – which was announced to have first hit the Canadian industry exactly one year ago around the time of last year's BPS Boar Pit session, where it understandably dominated the discussion.

How Canada has managed the threat has been outstanding, observed Brokhoff. "We have done a remarkable job on PED in Canada. We have come together, worked together, we've upheld our biosecurity. We should be extremely proud of what we have accomplished. If we maintain our focus, we have a very good chance of eradicating this virus from Canada, from coast to coast."

Lessons on group sow housing

Christian Blais, Isoporc and Gène-Alliance

Date posted: January 22, 2015

The topic of housing sows in groups today has shifted from a controversial area of discussion to a clear way of the future, particularly with a new Pig Code of Practice set for implementation.

Christian Blais of Isoporc and Gène-Alliance shared some secrets for success from his experience in Quebec, as part of a breakout session on animal care at BPS. Among these:

  • Training of the gilts – The method must be followed by all employees and there must be a minimum 14 days of training or ideally 21 days
  • Need to be patent and calm
  • Need daily monitoring of sows that do not eat
  • Savings of 5 percent in rations plus better body condition of sows makes up in large part for manpower costs for training
  • Need good design for training area

There are different management models all with pros and cons, he says. "Each producer must analyze the capacity to manage one type or the other of the management models for group-housed sows. Each one has its advantages and its disadvantages. We are still at the trial and error stage. We have to learn from those who have gone before us. But consumer pressure will inevitably force us to speed up the transition."

Canada and U.S. share interests

Howard Hill, National Pork Producers Council

Date posted: January 22, 2015

Canada and the U.S. pork industries are on the same page on key issues and can help each other drive progress in the face of international pork trade challenges, says Howard Hill President, National Pork Producers Council.

This includes controversial, close-to-home challenges such as unpopular Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL) legislation. "Let me be clear – the U.S. pork industry is not in favor of MCOOL. It stands for cost, confusion. And there is an unapparent need"

The two neighbours and leading pork exporters also share a mindset for continual improvement, he says. "U.S. and Canadian pork producers are continuously raising the bar to increase quality, lower cost and increase productivity. As a result, both countries have an abundant supply of high quality safe pork that can be exported to the nations in need of more meat protein."

International trade issues and related frustrations can be overcome, he says. "As pork producers, we need to be diligent in fighting for fair legislation and regulations, including legitimate FTA's that will continue to allow us to expand our industry and provide the world with an abundant supply of pork."

Challenges in addition to MCOOL such the sharp fall off of the Russian pork trade, trade disruption by China and Japan's recent failure to comply with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are ultimately speedbumps on a positive pathway ahead, he says. "Regardless of the challenges international trade of pork faces, the rewards are worth the effort."

Student science winners at BPS 2015

Janelle Fouhse, University of Alberta (left) and Ben Willing of the University of Alberta accepting for first place winner, Natalie May.

Date posted: January 22, 2015

Two student scientists were announced as winners of the R. O. Ball Young Scientist award at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS).

Dr. Ron Ball, who the award is named after, is a long-time researcher and former BPS program director. The award recognizes graduate students who provide a best overall combination of good and relevant science, well-written abstract and excellent presentation.

First prize was awarded to Natalie May of the University of Alberta for her work on identification of seminal plasma proteins associated with boar fertility.

Second prize went to Janelle Fouhse of the University of Alberta for her paper on starch and fibre characteristics of barley which influence energy digestion in grower pigs.

First place winner receives a $500 cheque and plaque and second price receives a $250 cheque and plaque.

Canada drives forward

Kevin Grier, Kevin Grier Market Analysis and Consulting Inc.

Date posted: January 22, 2015

Glass half empty or half full? Prospects bearish or bullish?

While major factors on both sides of the equation are battling for influence, there are more reasons for optimism in Canada's pork sector - including both production and processing fronts - than there have been for some time, says leading market analyst Kevin Grier, speaking at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

"The industry is really entering a new period," says Grier. "It's a much different industry than it was in the past. We've got some issues, but many are short-term. In the big picture, I do believe we are globally competitive. Just how competitive we are can and does fluctuate. But we have to remind ourselves that we enjoy many advantages that are the envy of pork producing regions around the world."

Click here to read the full news feature highlighting Grier's presentation.

Digging deeper on welfare factor

Dr. Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University

Date posted: January 21, 2015

The welfare issue won't derail a positive outlook for Canada's pork industry, says agriculture economist Dr. Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University.

"There is a very optimistic sentiment today in the entire pork industry. I think we're going to expand pork production throughout North America. I think we're going to expand it a little less than if we didn't have this uncertainty related to welfare and other social issues, but in the big picture animal welfare is a very small component of the broader economic story."

At the end of the day it will be part of the cost of doing business in an overall very positive environment, he says. "All the major export players – Canada, U.S. and Europe – have the same issues to deal with so it will still be a level playing field."

Click here to read a news feature highlighting Tonsor's presentation.

Social license: Protecting Canada's pork future

Charlie Arnot, The Centre for Food Integrity

Date posted: January 21, 2015

The future looks brighter today for Canadian pork production than it has for several years. But there's a big "if" standing in the way that industry must tackle in order to fully capture the opportunities ahead.

That "if" centers on the rising buzz term 'social license,' says Charlie Arnot, CEO of the U.S.-based Center for Food Integrity.

With strong social license – a.k.a. public trust that translates to freedom to operate - the pork industry is set to capture major growth opportunities. However, without a strong and dedicated collective effort to support social license, the path ahead could include some major stumbling blocks.

"I truly believe it's a phenomenal time to be in the pork industry," says Arnot, speaking to a cross section of industry at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar, attended by over 600 participants. "But it depends on social license. The opportunities ahead will only continue to be there if freedom to operate is continually earned and maintained. It's about trust. It's about transparency. It's about building and communicating an ethical foundation for our activity that aligns with consumer values."

Click here to read the full news feature highlighting Arnot's presentation.

Aherne Prize winners announced at Banff Pork Seminar 2015

Lyle and Maaike Campbell of Birnam Pork,
Arkona, Ont.

Date posted: January 21, 2015

The F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar in Banff, Alta. will be shared this year, recognizing two impressive hog innovations.

Lyle and Maaike Campbell of Birnam Pork, Arkona, Ont. won for an innovative piglet weigh scale which boosted profitability in that operation. And Greg Feenstra and Dave Uttecht of Heartland Pork, LLC in Alpena, South Dakota, U.S. won for their "EZ Tub" hog handling innovation which significantly reduces stress on animals and people.

"Innovation is always fascinating and this award is one of the most popular aspects of the annual Banff Pork Seminar," says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne prize committee. "The prize recognizes those individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology."

The award is named after industry icon, the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and a major force for science-based progress in the western Canadian pork industry.

The Campbells' innovative solution to weighing young piglets was low cost and had a direct benefit on their bottom line. Birnam Pork produces weaned piglets that excel in the grower-finish phase of pork production. They needed some way to weigh those piglets so they could ensure they were meeting marketing objectives and getting paid for their efforts.

Greg Feenstra (left) and Dave Uttecht of Heartland Pork, LLC in Alpena, South Dakota

Their scale was built onto a lightweight base that is easily transportable and washable. A lightweight container on top is tall enough that 18 day old piglets won't jump out, but low enough to be reachable. It features a tray to carry spray markers and a spot to collect sow cards. The scale design allows for numbers on the scale to be viewable from all sides. It is flexible enough to use with smaller piglets and can be used to calibrate feeders.

Greg Feenstra and Dave Uttecht of Heartland Pork designed the E Z Hog Tub hog handler. It helps reduce stress on pigs and people during loading, produced faster loading and lower plant losses. And it accomplished that with very little expense.

Animal handling and welfare are major concerns for the pork industry. Research shows pigs need time to flow through alleyways. The primary cause of stress when moving animals through an alleyway is that handlers have a tendency to move too aggressively, crowding pigs to encourage movement. That causes animals to bunch up and balk at transitions such as doorways.

The E Z Tub circular tub-style design works with pigs' natural response patterns to aid in the loading of market hogs. The pen and gate configuration lets the handler work where hogs can see them and uses the pigs' circling behavior to set up a flow onto the trailer. That reduces stress and produces fewer discounts for injured animals at the packing plant.

2015 Foxcroft Honorary Lectureship: Dr. Egbert Knol

Dr. George Foxcroft (left) and Dr. Egbert Knol,
Topigs Norsvin Canada

Date posted: January 21, 2015

Each year one speaker at the Banff Pork Seminar is there as part of a legacy of Dr. George Foxcroft, swine research pioneer and industry icon.

"The George Foxcroft Lectureship in Swine Production has been established to allow the Banff Pork Seminar, in conjunction with the University of Alberta, to host speakers who are conducting high profile research that is applicable to the pork production industry and will potentially improve production efficiency," says Seminar co-program chair, Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta.

"I am pleased to recognize Dr. Egbert Knol as the 2015 recipient of the Foxcroft Lectureship," he says.

Knol comes to us from TOPIGS-Norsvin in the Netherlands where he a research director and has unique type of sort of cross assignment between the breeding company and academics.

"Dr. Knol has made many contributions to animal breed and breeding management having worked to understand and select for important production traits including piglet survivability, maternal traits and mothering ability including teat numbers and many aspects of reproductive performance.

"Based the quality of his research, and the contributions to he has made to the swine industry he is being recognized with this award."

The power to adapt and evolve

Dr. Bob Kemp, 2015 BPS Chair

Date posted: January 21, 2015

Shortly after last year's Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) got underway, the first case of PED hit Canada. It was a bombshell that shook the pork industry and this conference. Cell phones buzzed and a social media feeding frenzy ensued.

Within a short time, the seminar organizers adjusted, and brought together speakers to bring BPS delegates and their industry up to date.

That moment in time a year ago and the ensuing PED experience of the past year are a clear sign of two things, says Banff Pork Seminar 2015 chair, Bob Kemp. "The need for the pork industry to be able to adapt and evolve, and the power of people to do that when they put their mind to it."

That was the underlying thinking for our Seminar this year, he says. "The world this industry finds itself in is moving so quickly. Issues such as feed costs, pork prices, disease challenges, labor challenges, currency fluctuations, market access, animal welfare, rising protein demand to name a few."

"Given that backdrop of a need for the industry to respond to multiple issues we chose 'Adapting and Evolving' as the theme for this year's seminar. Clearly there are tremendous opportunities for those who are willing to adapt and evolve.

That thinking applies to the organization of this Seminar as well. Albert Einstein said "You can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them." I believe this is especially relevant for this seminar as we think about what we need to do to "adapt and evolve" our industry.

"We are delighted with the turnout this year and very pleased to have the sponsor support that makes so much of this possible.

"But we also know that logically if the industry is faced with rapid evolution, institutions such as the Banff Pork Seminar have to keep pace. The opportunity for BPS to be a national launch point for the first information response on PED last year was symbolic. We have to find ways to continue to tap the best minds of the industry, to provide leadership.

"As you look around the room at the people attending this seminar we must take note of the makeup, and meet the needs of those audiences that make up this tremendous industry.

"We have great faith in the intelligence of the people in our industry to make good decisions. But we need your ideas and thoughts. At the end of this seminar you will have a chance to provide your comments and suggestions. It takes time, but please do that. We use that input to build a conference that meets your needs.

"Or if you have comments or ideas let me or any one of the planning committee know directly over the next couple of days or anytime afterwards."

One of the real benefits of this seminar is the networking opportunity it brings, adds Kemp. This year the planning committee has added an increased number of reception events to enhance that experience. They've been designed so that they don't affect personal plans later in the evening.

"This mountain location, Banff, allows all of us to get away from our regular worlds into a place of immense physical beauty recognized around the world. Let's take time to enjoy that experience."

BPS 2015 launches with energy

BPS conference coordinator, Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere with a BPS 2015 cookie.

Date posted: January 21, 2015

PIC feels that the Banff Pork Seminar does a great job in identifying what the key challenges and opportunities are for Canadian pork producers by having current and relevant topics and speakers. It is also an excellent opportunity to visit with a large portion of the Canadian industry, and for these reasons, we are pleased to be a key supporter of this event.

PIC's main goal is to bring value to pork producers by providing genetics and services that focus on reducing the cost of production and increasing margins, which is typically a common theme at Banff as well.

Delegates network at BPS 2015


Thank you to our sponsors

Date posted: January 19, 2015

When delegates check in for the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) they will have some strong support. Everyone attending this internationally recognized event will benefit directly from the broad support of sponsors.

"We would not be able to put on an event of this quality without this sponsor support," says BPS chair Bob Kemp. "It allows us to be able to keep our registration fees down and to have the resources to attract the best speakers.

"On behalf of all attending, we offer our sincere thank you to sponsors for the 2015 seminar."

Sustaining Sponsors

  • Alberta Pork
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd.
  • Elanco
  • PIC
  • Topigs Norsvin

Premier Plus sponsors

  • Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement Inc.
  • Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta
  • Dupont
  • Hypor Inc., A Hendrix Genetics Company
  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
  • Merck Animal Health
  • Olymel
  • Pharmgate Animal Health
  • Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services
  • Zoetis

Premier sponsors

  • Canadian Bio-Systems Inc.
  • Carlo Genetics Inc.
  • Conception Ro-Main Inc.
  • Fast Genetics Inc.
  • Merial Canada Inc.
  • New Standard West Equipment Inc.
  • We Communications
  • Western Hog Exchange.

Select sponsors

  • Agri Stats, Inc.
  • Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC)
  • Ajinomoto Heartland Inc.
  • Automated Production (AP)
  • Biomin Canada
  • Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
  • Canola Council of Canada
  • Champion Alstoe Animal Health
  • Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition
  • DNA Genetics
  • DSM Nutritional Products Inc.
  • EastGen/IMV
  • Farm Credit Canada
  • Genesus
  • GSI Group
  • Hams Marketing Services Co-op
  • Hylife Ltd.
  • Jefo Nutrition Inc
  • JYGA Technologies Inc
  • Lallemand
  • Manitoba Pork Council
  • MOFA Global
  • Nutreco Canada Inc./Landmark Feeds
  • Nutriad Inc.
  • Prairie Hog Country
  • Prairie Swine Centre Inc.
  • Pro-Ag Products Ltd.
  • RFW Farm LTD.
  • Steve's Livestock Transport
  • Sunterra Farms Ltd.
  • Swine Innovation Porc
  • Western Hog Journal
  • Zinpro Performance Minerals

Supporting Sponsors

  • Alltech
  • Diamond V
  • Halchemix Canada Inc.
  • Hipro Feeds
  • Pancosma Canada
  • Parks Livestock of Canada
  • Penner Farm Services
  • Swine Health Professionals Ltd.
  • Prairie Swine Health Services
  • Vétoquinol N.-A. Inc
  • Warman Veterinary Services

Elanco at BPS: Working together to find you more profit

Date posted: January 19, 2015

Elanco's Full Value Pigs is more than a metric or a tool. It's a set of beliefs that together, we can make your business better. It's about taking a holistic approach to disease management and herd health. It's about getting the best results from your biggest input: feed. It's about marketing your pigs at the right weight and at the right time, maximizing your output. It's about having the access to sell your products to your preferred buyer. It's about feeding the world. But most of all, Full Value Pigs is about growing your business.

Today more than ever, with the combined power of Elanco and Novartis AH, we provide products, services and technical support to help swine producers deliver more Full Value Pigs.

The Full Value Pigs approach helps producers find more success in business. It also benefits retailers and consumers by helping ensure a safe, affordable and abundant supply of food. By improving herd health, the Full Value Pigs approach makes better use of resources—creating a sustainable link in the food chain and providing more pork to more people worldwide.

The valued partnership with Banff Pork Seminar gets us right where we want to be – close to the industry and close to our customers.

Last minute tips for BPS 2015 delegates

Date posted: January 14, 2015

The Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation at The Baff Centre. Photo: Donald Lee, The Banff Centre. The Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation at The Baff Centre. Photo: Donald Lee, The Banff Centre.

As Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2015 rolls onto the horizon, here's a last-minute checklist of things for delegates registered or those who still wish to attend from Seminar coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere.

You can still register. Registration is available right up to the last day of the conference so delegates can "walk in" and register. If you show up to register at the desk, you will be asked to self-register at a laptop at the registration desk. So it saves time for delegates to register from their own computer, tablet or phone before arriving so BPS can have a package ready.

Registration payment. If BPS has not received payment for your registration or your group's registration, the delegates will not be able to check in and pick up their kits until payment is received. Please ensure your first person to check in is prepared to settle the invoice. Payment by credit card, cheque or cash is accepted.

Banff Airporter Shuttle discount. Anyone arriving by air and wishing to book the Banff Airporter Shuffle can get a discount by booking from through the BPS website. Check under the Accommodations and Travel button, Airporter Shuttle tab for promo code and details.

Drink tickets. Each delegate will receive three drink tickets in their kit. These can be used for one drink at any of the three receptions, or for three beer tasters at the Prost! reception on Wednesday.

Sessions. The breakout sessions delegates have selected are printed on the back of their name tags. If you did not choose sessions, the person who registered your group may have chosen for you.

Please arrive on time for sessions to avoid disrupting speakers and other delegates. Breakout sessions have limited seating. Once a session is full, fire regulations prevent BPS from allowing more people in. To ensure you get to see the sessions you want, please arrive at least five minutes before the start time.

Seminar evaluations. These will be handed out at breakout sessions and are also available at the registration desk. There are four separate evaluations: Wednesday AM, Wednesday PM, Thursday AM, and Thursday PM. There is different coloured paper for each. There will be bins to drop off your completed registrations in the Kinnear Centre, in the Max Bell Building and at the Registration Desk. Please add your name and email address to your evaluation to be added to a draw for free registration for BPS 2015!! Draw will be done after the conference and the winner will be contacted by email.

Get the latest news at the Inside BPS 2015 Special Report. News, photos and the Inside BPS blog items are available from the BPS 2015 floor. Check regularly. Follow on Twitter at #BPS2015. Inside BPS Report articles are available with credit for reprint for individual, industry or media use.

See the final program handout. A PDF of the 2015 program handout with final details has been loaded onto the BPS website www.banffpork.ca. Click on the Program button at the Home page, then on the printable Program PDF tab.

We will see you in Banff.

Media and industry advisory BPS 2015

Date posted: January 14, 2015

This year's Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) celebrates 44 years of bringing together innovators and leading thinkers in the pork and general agricultural industries.

Through the years, those annual Seminars have resulted in many hundreds of articles in agricultural media across Canada and internationally. Increasingly, those topics and conversations flow across into mainstream media, in recent years often feeding a vibrant discussion on social media as well.

"In today's world, this information is part of the new era of 'content'," says Michael Dyck, BPS program co-coordinator. "So many industry organizations, companies and government departments have publications, websites and other media style tools of their own and real capacity to influence perspective.

"This is an important opportunity for BPS to extend its reach as an educational tool and industry thought leader and as a result communications from the Seminar is an important part of the BPS planning effort."

This year's Seminar, Jan. 20 to 22, 2015 at the Banff Centre, has a theme of "Adapting and evolving" features presentations from leaders across Canada and around the world on how the industry can adapt to challenges faced today in areas such as marketing, trade, production, food safety, animal health and welfare while evolving to meet the pressing issues of tomorrow.

Media are invited to attend or to access information directly. The 2015 program information is available on the Banff Pork Seminar website at www.banffpork.ca. Also, Geoff Geddes, communications specialist with Alberta Pork, is available during the seminar to assist media with requests.

As a special communications effort, news articles, print-quality photos and blog perspective is provided courtesy of BPS through the Inside the Banff Pork Seminar Special 2015 Meeting Report. It's available at www.meristem.com or by link from www.banffpork.ca. Material will be posted as it is issued. Or follow on Twitter at #BPS2015. Material is available for reprint with credit.

"The world of pork is so globally connected these days and it is gratifying for the Banff Pork Seminar to have built a reputation internationally," says Dyck. "We look forward to that continuing as we head into our 45th year.

Sponsor PIC supports networking, knowledge opportunities at BPS

Date posted: January 14, 2015

PIC feels that the Banff Pork Seminar does a great job in identifying what the key challenges and opportunities are for Canadian pork producers by having current and relevant topics and speakers. It is also an excellent opportunity to visit with a large portion of the Canadian industry, and for these reasons, we are pleased to be a key supporter of this event.

PIC's main goal is to bring value to pork producers by providing genetics and services that focus on reducing the cost of production and increasing margins, which is typically a common theme at Banff as well.

Finalists selected for student research presentations in breakout Session 5

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Four student presentations have been selected for breakout session No. 5, "Novel research and application." This session is on Wednesday only.

"This is always a popular breakout session because it is the leading edge of science presented by the top presenters selected from a large group of students," says Michael Dyck, Banff Pork Seminar program co-chair for 2015.

Along with these presentations there are 33 research posters presented, says Dyck. "That is one of the largest poster presentations we have ever had, a sign of the interest in the industry and a new crop of young scientists on the horizon."

The four topics to be presented are:

  • Starch and fibre characteristics of barley influence site of energy digestion in ileal-cannulated grower pigs
  • Accuracy of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) in assessing carcass composition from different pig populations
  • Identification of Seminal Plasma Proteins Associated with Boar Fertility
  • Infection of swine testicular cells with Chlamydia suis and its survival and transmission in semen

The session presentations are judged by a panel which selects the First and Second place recipients of the R. O. Ball Young Scientist Award. These awards are presented during the plenary session the following morning.

BPS and ALMA prepare industry for present and future opportunities

Date posted: January 6, 2015

Over the years, the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) has become a crucial industry event. It continues to provide insights into the latest innovations, best practices and success stories in the rapidly changing pork industry.

These changes become the focus for BPS 2015, which adopts the theme of "Adapting and Evolving." From market access, to consumer demands and trends, the pork industry constantly experiences instances where change becomes necessary. Therefore, it's important for industry to prepare for future demands and challenges, all while capitalizing on current opportunities.

As a "Sustaining Sponsor," the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) is proud to support BPS 2015. ALMA strives to continue its role as an industry catalyst by partnering with industry to increase competitiveness and productivity. This includes supporting notable networking and knowledge sharing events like BPS.

"The expertise provided at BPS enables industry to move forward and find the best path for success," says Gordon Cove, ALMA President and CEO. "ALMA has programs that assist industry from gate to plate. By assisting BPS, we help support valuable knowledge transfer and remind industry we are open for partnerships that build a stronger pork industry."

Alberta Pork continues as Sustaining Sponsor for BPS 2015

Date posted: January 3, 2014

As a long-standing member of a dynamic industry, Alberta Pork's mission has never wavered: Supporting producers to enhance prosperity for themselves, their families and their communities. It's how we've helped producers adapt to rapidly changing market conditions and consumer demands, and it's why we were a founding agency of the Banff Pork Seminar in 1972 and have been a leading sponsor ever since.

"To maintain world class production practices, biosecurity protocols, animal care and food safety standards, and a solid understanding of consumer trends, our producers must stay on the cutting edge of both technology and information," says Alberta Pork Executive Director Darcy Fitzgerald.

"To remain viable, producers must have access to the latest tools for protecting their bottom line. The Banff Pork Seminar plays a key role in these efforts by offering industry experts and timely information. Most importantly, BPS shares our commitment to forward thinking by embracing change and addressing current issues that matter most to producers."

So what do the next 44 years have in store for this partnership?

"As always, the pork industry in Alberta will face challenges in the future," says Fitzgerald. "But as long as BPS remains relevant to our industry and responsive to changing times, we'll continue to be a big part of it."

Don't miss BPS 2015 food and fun

Date posted: December 22, 2014

One of the highlights of the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is the food and refreshments and the opportunity for fun and networking that go with it.

This year there are three hospitality functions to enjoy.

It all kicks off Tuesday, Jan. 20 with a welcome reception around delegate registration and kit pickup. All on the second floor of the Kinnear Centre from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m...

Then Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. join in an Oktoberfest style celebration "Prost: Beer, Bratwurst and Bonding" will feature beer tasting, bratwurst sliders on a pretzel bun and Lebkuchen (German cookies). Add in German minstrels and the opportunity for socializing and networking.

On Thursday, at 5:00 p.m. it's the Boar Pit Reception. The Boar Pit is a lively, moderated but wide-open discussion on the hot topics of the day. It wraps up the final day of the Seminar and is the perfect chance to close out the 2015 event with good discussion and refreshment.

More information on all aspects of the program is available at the BPS website www.banffpork.ca.

Banff tours and nightlife is waiting

Date posted: December 22, 2014

It's a great spot for a meeting, even greater for the fun.

Banff, Alta. is one of the most recognized spots in Canada worldwide

The Banff Pork Seminar has partnered with Discover Banff Tours, Banff's premier sightseeing tour and activity provider, to offer BPS delegates, sponsors, and guests a selection of tours and activities in the surrounding area.

Arrive in Banff early or stay after the conference and experience a National Park adventure! Details can be found in the Discover Banff Tours BPS portal. See more at: https://www.banffpork.ca/accommodations-travel/tourism/#sthash.E0URa8bi.dpuf.

For more information on skiing in the area, please visit:

General information about Banff and Lake Louise, visit: http://www.banfflakelouise.com.

Fresh thinking on the science of problem solving

Date posted: December 8, 2014

Mike Brumm

There's not much debate about the goals of pork production. Despite that clear focus, it is not always easy to spot the problems or to look ahead and determine how new technologies and developments will affect a production system.

Banff Pork Seminar 2015 brings three speakers who take a fresh look at the science of problem solving in pork production and give practical, first-hand advice from real experience.

Mike Brumm of Brumm Swine Consultancy in Minnesota has been a swine extension agent at the University of Nebraska and now an independent consultant. He looks at a "Global perspective on achieving consistent production numbers.

Ryan Martin of RFW Farms in Grimsby, Ont. looks at how motivation is a key factor in "Achieving consistent production numbers in a single production system." And Marsha Van Dither, with South West Ontario Veterinary Services gives her experiences in "How different production systems compare."

It's all in breakout session nine at BPS 2015. More information at www.banffpork.ca.

How genetics, breeding management will drive pork profits

Date posted: December 8, 2014

There are few tools in the pork production toolbox more powerful than genetics and breeding management.

"Producers want to know where genetics are headed and how that will affect the production system," says Michael Dyck, program co-chair for the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS). "Are we going to be raising animals without antibiotics, or are there animal welfare considerations?

"On the breeding management end, if we have new genetics coming, how can we identify the best boars or the animals that will produce the most pigs? Which are most fertile? And are there technologies like fixed time artificial insemination we can use?"

Banff Pork Seminar 2015 brings in top level geneticists from large providers to talk genetics for the future and how they will affect the production system. In breakout session two, William Herring of PIC North America looks at "New approaches and tools for genetic selection." And Egbert Knol of TOPIGS Canada Inc. asks "Are genetics up to the challenge in North America?"

Breakout session three looks at breeding management. Hanneke Feitsma of the Minnesota Swine Reproduction Centre looks at boar fertility and boar stud management. And Julie Menard of F. Menard Inc. talks on experiences with a post-cervical AI program in a production system.

BPS delegates get to select from nine concurrent breakout sessions when they register, says Dyck. Those options are available at www.banffpork.ca.

Antibiotics and emerging pork production systems

Date posted: December 8, 2014

What do you need to know to raise pork in a Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) system?

What's the difference in production systems using antibiotics as growth promoters versus therapeutic agents?

Two big questions on a topic that continues to grow in interest in the pork industry. The place to find the answers is breakout session number four at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

LeeAnn Peters of Maple Leaf Agri Foods tackles that company's experience in RWA systems. And Leigh Rosengren of Rosengren Epidemiology Consulting Ltd. tackles the bigger picture issue of growth promoters versus therapeutic use.

Registration and full program details at www.banffpork.ca.

Shake up your network at BPS 2015

Date posted: November 27, 2014

The BPS marketplace is a networking opportunity.

What is the role of Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) in today's busy, fast-paced world? One clear benefit is the chance to engage with people across the industry.

"It's an opportunity to gain fresh perspectives," says BPS program co-chair, Michael Dyck. "People have their own thoughts and experiences. But when you get a bunch of people in a room and they start talking, often you get exposure to new viewpoints and a chance to test your own thinking.

"You can check in on whether other people are having the same sorts of experiences that you are, and get their view on where things are going. It gives people a benchmark, a sort of a litmus test of where things are at in the industry."

Whether that information comes from the sessions or the hallways, anytime there are several hundred people from industry together, it's a unique networking opportunity, says Dyck.

"One of the roles of the Seminar is that it shakes people out of their network comfort zone. People are well connected electronically today, but this sort of event brings people together in a different way. Part of gaining fresh perspective is that you may be within the comfort zone with the information you have. But then all of a sudden you get an injection of new information that may make you change your perspective and your approach.

"Sometimes it may not be the news you want to hear but it may be the information you need."

Get more power from your people

Date posted: November 27, 2014

Is there a bigger issue in agriculture than labor?

Based on the amount of discussion it gets, maybe not.

One major aspect is how to train and manage foreign workers effectively. Breakout session number one at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar features advice and insights from two people on the frontlines of this challenge.

Orland Gill who owns and operates TCTS Global, LLC — a consulting company that works with business to bridge the gap with Latino talent — explains how to effectively train in spite of language and cultural differences.

And Richard Taillefer, of HyLife in La Broquerie, Man. discusses how to build an effective team. Taillefer has first-hand knowledge based on experience overseeing 62,000 sows and multiple-operations. He is also part of the mentoring team overseeing production in operations in China.

The people behind the program

Date posted: November 24, 2014

Behind every successful program are people who give their time and effort to make it that way.

One reason Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) has achieved success and endured for well over 40 years is that people step up to provide the leadership needed to put the program together.

The BPS advisory committee is made up of people who represent organizations with a major role in the industry including those who sponsor the event. Fittingly for a seminar that draws delegates from many geographic areas, that group includes people from across Canada.

Here are the people on the 2015 BPS Advisory Committee.

  • Chair: Bob Kemp, Genesus Inc. Lethbridge, Alta.
  • Program co-chairs: Michael Dyck and Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • Conference coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • Sylven Blouin Agri-Marche Saint-Isidore, QC
  • Neil Booth, Maple Leaf Foods, Landmark, Man.
  • Mark Chambers, Sunterra Farms Acme, Alta.
  • Geoff Geddes, Alberta Pork Edmonton, Alta.
  • Ron Gietz, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Brooks, Alta.
  • Steffen Klenk, PIC Canada Winnipeg, Man.
  • Nancy Lidster, DNL Farms White Fox, SK
  • Dawn Magrath, Innovative Veterinary Services Inc. Lethbridge, Alta.
  • Cam McGavin Topigs Norsvin Canada Winnipeg, Man.
  • John Otten South West Ontario Veterinary Services Stratford, Ont.
  • Francis Simard, Nutreco Montreal, QC
  • Ralph Tuck, Gowans Feed Consulting Strathmore, Alta.

Anyone interested in serving on the advisory committee or learning more about its role can contact a current member.

PED one year later

Date posted: November 24, 2014

Dr. Doug MacDougald talks Canada's PED response.

There was a surreal moment at the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) that will be forever remembered by those attending. Word spread quickly during the sessions that the first outbreak of PED had hit Canada. As people checked their smartphones and tablets, and whispered amongst themselves, the concern for all attending the event was obvious.

This year the Banff Pork Seminar will look back at what was learned from the past year's PED experience and what is needed as the industry continues to wrestle with the disease.

"We would be remiss if we didn't have an update on PED," says BPS program co-chair, Michael Dyck. "We have done a pretty good job of surveillance and keeping the disease out of Canadian herds. That is one part of the success story that needs to be told."

Well known swine veterinary practitioner, Dr. Doug MacDougald, who was a lead player in the PED response team, will present on PED in breakout session number six. Also presenting during this session will be Ontario producer Tom Graydon, who went through PED on his operation and emerged successfully, and Luc Dufresne of Seaboard Foods, who will look at the issue from the food industry perspective.

The Boar Pit is back

Date posted: November 24, 2014

The Boar Pit draws lively conversation

One of the most popular sessions at the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is returning again this year. The Boar Pit, a lively, gently moderated, wide-open discussion on the hot topics of the day wraps up the final day of the Seminar.

"It's the perfect close to the Seminar," says Michael Dyck, program co-chair. "It's a chance to sit back with a refreshment, ask questions and enjoy the discussion in an open-floor environment."

"The Boar Pit is anchored by an expert panel and features honest analysis on a number of key topics, including what was learned at the Seminar. Also there is lots of participation from the floor, which is encouraged in this interactive format. Along with some frank discussion, there are always some entertaining comments and usually a few good laughs along the way."

It's all included in the price of admission.

Inside info on housing and the new Code of Practice

Date posted: November 24, 2014

Dr. Egan Brockhoff

By now pork producers have settled in to the idea of the new Code of Practice for farm animal care for the pork industry. But while most producers understand the need at the industry level, many also have significant questions on what that means at the production level.

Banff Pork Seminar breakout session number eight looks at how producers can best address this issue when making changes, whether their system is big or small, so they are both meeting the Code and at the same time keeping costs under control.

Well known veterinarian Dr. Egan Brockhoff presents on what the Code means for euthanasia and castration. Kase van Ittersum of New West Standard Equipment Inc. talks pen gestation conversions from his North American and international perspective. And Christian Blais of Isoporc and Gene-Alliance offers an additional perspective discussing the state of pen conversions in the province of Quebec.

Fresh look for BPS

Date posted: November 10, 2014

It's only fitting that as Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2015 tackles a theme of "Adapting and Evolving" that the Seminar itself adapts and evolves.

You can check out a fresh look for BPS at its new website www.banffpork.ca.

The look features a new colorful structure, more photos and new content fitting for a leading seminar in today's fast-paced world. The ultimate goal is the same - to provide the information you need to get registered and get the most of the Seminar experience.

As always, your comments are welcome, says BPS coordinator, Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere. Send them to .

Key things to know as you register for BPS 2015

Date posted: November 10, 2014

There are many reasons to register for Banff Pork Seminar 2015. As you consider that, here are some key points to keep in mind.

  • What you get. Knowledge from the best speakers on the leading issues. Equally important, a networking opportunity with a large group of delegates. Your Banff Pork Seminar registration fee includes a copy of the seminar proceedings, coffee/networking breaks and lunches on January 21 and 22, and evening receptions on Jan. 20, 21 and 22.
  • Early registration savings. Register by Nov.30, 2014 and receive an early registration discount of $50 per delegate.
  • Group discounts. For multiple registrants attending from the same organization, register all delegates together to receive a group discount - register five delegates and receive the sixth registration free. Group registration is available until Dec. 29, 2014.
  • Student registration. Conference registration fee is waived for full-time undergraduate or graduate students attending a Canadian post-secondary institution. Students must register by Dec. 29, 2014 or will be subject to full conference fees.
  • Online registration. It will be available until Jan. 9, 2015.
  • Cancellation. Cancellations received by Dec. 29, 2014 will be refunded minus a $75 per delegate administration fee. Cancellation requests received Dec.30, 2014 or later will not be refunded. Substitutions are permitted.
  • Media registration. Media are welcome to attend but asked to register. Specifics at the BPS website.

Full registration details including online registration are available at www.banffpork.ca.

Check out Banff Pork Seminar 2015

Date posted: November 7, 2014

This Inside BPS Special Meeting Report is designed to harvest the best information from the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS). It is produced by Meristem editors in partnership with the BPS organizing committee.

We are proud of that relationship which goes back more than a decade. Quite simply, this Seminar has become one of the best places to get leading perspective on the pork and broader agricultural industries. Since the first Seminar in 1972, it has grown to regularly attract delegates from across Canada, North America and around the world.

The information in this Special Report – including blog items and news features - is designed to be available for use by media and industry, with credit to the source. Here are a few key points on the full BPS 2015 communications effort.

Seminar central. The best place to get everything you need to know about the 2015 Seminar, Jan. 20 to 22, 2015 is the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

Inside BPS blog. This blog you are reading now provides an ongoing look at key information and inside perspective prior to, during and immediately following the 2015 Seminar. Blog items are designed for use by media, industry communications specialists, producers and others in industry. Simply provide a credit line to the Inside BPS Special Report and a live link to the Meristem website www.meristem.com.

News releases and news features. While these are primarily designed for media and for industry communications specialists, they are available for anyone to use and are available for reprint. News releases can be used without requirement to provide credit. News features should be credited to the Banff Pork Seminar 2015.

Photos. A range of photos of selected speakers will be provided and are available for use. Please credit the Banff Pork Seminar.

Media assistance. As always, media assistance is available. Find contact information and other key details under the "Media Assistance" link in the top right column of this Special Report web page.

Social media. Information and links to stories on BPS will also be featured on social media. Watch for regular updates under the #BPS2015 hashtag. Follow NewStream by Meristem at Twitter handle @NewStreamTweets. Follow the Banff Pork Seminar at Twitter handle @BanffPork and on the BPS Facebook page.

Questions are always welcomed by the Banff Pork Seminar organizers. We are looking forward to Banff in January.