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2016 Banff Pork Seminar

Inside BPS Blog

News from the Meristem editors from inside the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar.

Ruurd's wrap up on Banff Pork Seminar 2016

Date posted: January 15, 2015

Ruurd Zijlstra, program co-chair

Hearty thanks and an appeal for input.

That was the message Ruurd Zijlstra, co-program chair for the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) had as he wrapped up a highly successful 2016 event.

Zijlstra had thanks for the nearly 700 delegates that showed up for the event. "You voted with your feet and your credit cards and we appreciated that," he says.

There was a thank-you for the sponsors, who provided strong support again this year. "That support saves delegates about $250 on their registration costs," says Zijlstra.

There was acknowledgement for the Seminar organizing committee who give their time and talent to put together a strong program. "Our committee is designed to have several people leave each year," Zijlstra says. "We depend on good people and encourage anyone who is interested themselves or knows of others who might be interested in participating on the committee to get their names in."

As well, there was appreciation for BPS coordinator Ashely Steeple, in her first year on the job. "I hope you reserve your heartiest applause for her," Zijlstra told the audience as he introduced her.

Finally, Zijlstra appealed for delegates to provide their input on the 2016 seminar and to get their ideas in for speakers and concepts for the 2017 seminar. "We depend on that input to continue to provide the best event we can.

"We'll see you back in this same location next year, Jan. 10 to 12, 2017."

Genomics study tackles next frontier in swine health

Date posted: January 15, 2015

Michael Dyck

If Canada is going to maintain a successful position in the global pork marketplace, swine health promises to be one of the deciding factors. Sustainable production and competitive pricing will be priorities and swine health is both a social requirement and necessity for sustainable production.

Porcine health management represents a tremendous opportunity for the application of innovative genomic tools, says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta. He was a wrap-up speaker of several leaders who spoke on the developments and potential of genomics at the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar.

One of the most promising developments is a major new study that brings together a significant team to build on what has been accomplished to date and head into new frontiers.

Diseases constantly evolve and present new pressures, says Dyck. There is a need to develop genomic tools and production management practices to help protect animals exposed to multiple disease threats including the most significant disease currently affecting the pork industry.

At the same time there is pressure on antimicrobial use in pork production which may require more robust pigs to maintain production, he says.

The next phase of research will take a more broad approach and concentrate on disease resilience, which is a combination of tolerance and resistance. Pigs with increased disease resilience are better able to respond to health challenges and maintain reproductive and grow-finish performance.

The new study which runs from 2015 to 2019 will build on previous research accomplishments in the area, says Dyck.

The research will focus on four areas. The inter-disciplinary approach exploits: 1) host variation in disease susceptibility to identify individuals with improved resilience; 2) host-pathogen interactions to identify and augment host responses linked to resilience; 3) the role of microbial colonization in shaping immune responses and resilience; and 4) nutritional impacts on these interactions.

The study will also include societal and economic studies to determine the attitudes of various industry players and factors that could affect the rate of adoption of health and productivity related technologies.

The outcomes could include genomics-based tools for optimal disease resilience and management of nutritional strategies. This research could improve end-users' ability to select feed and microbial management tools for optimal immune response of pigs.

Boar Pit: Inside Maple Leaf's loose housing switch

Date posted: January 15, 2015

Boar Pit panel, left to right. Ron Gietz, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; Martin Rice, Canadian Pork Council; Neil Booth, Maple Leaf

Switching sow stall barns to loose housing is a hot topic in the pork business these days.

Delegates to the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar got a look in the window of one of the largest barn conversion projects in the pork industry in Canada, Maple Leaf Foods. Neil Booth of Maple Leaf sat as one of the panelists in the Boar Pit open mike session that closed out the seminar.

The good news is it is going well on both the loose housing front and on the general sustainability program that Maple Leaf announced in December of 2015. Boar Pit panel moderator, Shannon Meyers asked the questions. Here's an excerpt of Booth's responses.

Q: What are the hands on the ground lessons the company has learned so far?

"Machinery is machinery," says Booth. "When you do group housing, whatever feeding system you choose, it is just a piece of machinery. You figure it out and you make it work."

"Pigs are relatively easy to work with and to train. Even older sows can be trained.

"People are what you need to be focused on. We have generations of people who have never worked with large groups of animals. We (Maple Leaf) have groups of 120 sows and when we introduced the projects to the barns, some people were quite wary of it, quite scared by it and nervous of walking around in the midst of these animals."

"I get a feeling at certain times we have lost a bit of the sense of stockmanship in the hog industry. In stall systems the animal is there day after day and we see her at the same time and place every day. Culture wise or for anybody who goes into loose housing or reduces antibiotics there will be an emphasis on good production practices, things we maybe knew back in the nineties and maybe have let slip a bit in the last decade."

Moderator Shannon Meyers

"So for anybody going down the road have a lot of thought about the conversion but make sure you involve people right up front and how this is going to affect them going forward.

Q: Will converting to loose housing mean reducing the size of your sow herd?

It's going to depend on your feed system, says Booth. Different feed systems are going to require different space requirements and most will be higher than stall systems.

"In reality if you look inside a traditional stall barn there is a lot of wasted space in alleyways, walkways, boar pens etc., so a lot of living space that is available to use," says Booth. "If you are creative in barn conversion you can be very close or equal to what you had before for numbers."

Q: Has Maple Leaf made changes during barn conversions they wished they hadn't?

Nothing major, says Booth. "Most are small details, like why did we put this gate here. Most are site specific. We haven't changed anything too much in the way we've done it."

"We have put a lot of preparation into the whole process. We started discussing this in 2007."

"So for anyone who is getting into it take your time. It is a lot easier to make mistakes on the back of a napkin than when you are getting into it."

Q: So to recap no major issues?

"The conversion is going well. Some barns are quicker than others but over time you get it figured out. Again, the secret is to focus on people and involve them from the start."

Q: What about your commitment to reduce your footprint by 50 percent?

Audience had questions

Sustainability makes a lot of sense for the world but it needs to come down to a personal level, your house or your business.

"For me it is what does it mean in your barn. Does it mean recycling AI rods? Yes it does but it's more than that.

"We started to look at this and we have a supplier in our system, an early adopter who produces about 400,000 finisher pigs a year. He has a 10,000 finisher barn and he reduced the water usage by 57 percent simply by having a maintenance fellow go through the barns for an hour once a week.

"So I'd challenge anybody around here, if you can find a way to use 57 percent less water, less hydro pumping it in, less hydro pumping it out and 57 percent less volume to store and spread for about $15 a week of somebody's time. That is environmental sustainability at its best and most practical.

"So reducing the footprint by 50 percent is a big deal for sure, but it is a lot of small things that we can all do."

A look inside Brazil's pork industry

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Cinara Batista

If you want to understand what is happening in a country's agricultural industry, ask one of the leading players in that industry.

That request brought Cinara Batista from the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) to the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar to share her insights into Brazil, one of the largest exporting countries in the world. ABPA is the largest animal protein association in Brazil with 140 members throughout the value chain. Its goals include strengthening market access, improved government relations and international trade.

Brazil is well diversified when it comes to agricultural exports. It is a global leader and the largest producer and exporter of sugar, coffee and orange juice. As well as being the largest producer and the second largest exporter of soybeans, ethanol, beef and chicken meat, they are one of the leading producing and exporting countries of turkey, corn, pork and cotton.

The reason for Brazil's position as one of the world's leading food suppliers is attributed to its abundant land, sunshine and rainfall and year-round growing conditions. Batista says the country is using technology to make the most of these natural resources.

Read the full feature here.

Temple Grandin challenges pork industry to do better job of reaching consumers

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin, arguably the most well-known farm animal care researcher in the world, says consumers are still woefully behind in their knowledge of real progress in livestock handling in the industry. And she challenged delegates to the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar to motivate their industry to do a much better job of reaching out.

The good news in all of this, she says, is that there have been great improvements in animal handling in the industry.

"I've been in the industry for many years and I can remember times when animal handling at plants was really terrible," she says. Then she was hired by McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King to implement animal welfare auditing of slaughter plants.

"The next two years I saw an exponential improvement in handling and stunning," says Grandin. "Today two major companies have video auditing where outside auditors randomly monitor handling. Yelling and hitting animals has stopped. It is a different and better industry today."

Knowledge gap

The bad news counterpoint to those improvements, Grandin says, is that consumers don't know about the improvements. It's her big frustration, she says.

How to change things? Not surprisingly, the outspoken leader has thoughts on that.

Where the industry is doing the worst job is with the rapidly expanding millennial generation, says Grandin. By 2020 they are projected to be nearly 20 percent of the population while baby boomers will drop from 27 percent today to about 20 percent.

Online technologies have transformed how millennials communicate. Surveys show 21 percent of millennials use social media as their main source of information. Fortunately nearly 35 percent still read a national source of news. Regardless, the younger generation gets farther and farther away from the farm, with only 50 percent ever having visited a farm that raises livestock or poultry.

She offers key points important to understand millennials better as well as advice on how to build a positive response and avoid a negative response with consumers. Read the full feature here.

Maple Leaf's McCain has strong views for future of Canadian hog industry

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Michael McCain

Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, kicked off the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar with a strong message for the industry. "I am very confident about our future as a sustainable, profitable industry but this will require embracing the social and environmental factors I am discussing here today."

Those three areas of focus and opportunity going forward are health and nutrition, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Health and nutrition

When the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer released its report last year stating red meat and processed meats were closely linked to colorectal cancer, the media took over and the story exploded. "We need to do a better job of getting balanced information out so people can make informed choices," says McCain.

He drew a comparison to what happened with gluten in wheat and the huge decline in bread consumption in recent years. One thing to be learned from the escalation of gluten from a nutritious protein to a culprit, is how quickly a minor or negligible risk can turn overnight into a food movement. "The vilification of gluten could easily happen to red meat," he says.

McCain stated repeatedly during his presentation, the importance of communicating about the industry, its practices, commitments and opportunities. Through their Canadian and U.S. industry associations, Maple Leaf is building a fund that will support a more robust effort to counter misinformation and reinforce the benefits of meat.

Read the full feature here.

A refresher course in pork export markets and trade agreements

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Martin Rice

Canada and pork exports. No other pork producing nation in the world has the kind of dependence on exports that Canada does. As a result, says Martin Rice of the Canadian Pork Council, Canadian pork producers are in a class by themselves when it comes to something going wrong in exports.

In the last 20 years the market for Canadian pork has seen significant changes, Rice told his audience at the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar. Over two thirds of Canadian pork production is exported, excluding live pigs, and almost half of all production is going to non-U.S. markets. As well, pork consumption in Canada has declined during this period. This is an enormous exposure to risk on the export side of things.

Canada is currently the third largest exporter of chilled pork in the world. Mexico recently passed Canada in exports of frozen pork to Japan.

"The reason trade matters for the pork industry becomes clear when you take a look at all of the cuts and products that come from one carcass," says Rice. There are products such as offal or variety meats that may go for pet food in Canada, because there isn't a demand for them here. But in China or Japan, these are highly sought after and are priced accordingly.

"There is an enormous contribution to the cutout value of the carcass, to be able to sell these variety meats to markets that value them," says Rice. This is why trade agreements are so important for the Canadian pork industry.

Read full feature here.

BPS 2016 student science winners

Date posted: January 14, 2015

Left to right, Amanda Perri, U of Guelph, Ben Willing U of Alberta, and Jingjing Cabahug U of Saskatchewan

The R. O. Ball Young Scientist award was presented to two young scientists at the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS).

The award is named after Dr. Ron Ball, 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 Amanda Perri, University of Guelph for her presentation "The association of zinc-oxide usage in nursery pig diets with post-weaning anemia." Second prize went to Jingjing Cabahug, University of Saskatchewan for her presentation on "Evaluation of ATP bioluminescence method for rapid assessment of cleanliness of commercial hog transport trailers."

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

Aherne Prize innovation winners announced at 2016 Banff Pork Seminar

Date posted: January 13, 2015

Sam Gelowitz, Prairie Swine Centre

Two winners shared the 2016 F. X. Aherne prize for Innovative Pork Production. They received their awards Jan. 14 at the Banff Pork Seminar in Banff, Alta.

Sam Gelowitz of the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, Sask. received the award for an innovative carcass removal cart. Steve's Livestock Transport received the prize for a new hydraulic lift deck trailer.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry and this prize recognizes individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology," says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne prize committee. "With the quality of applicants it is not hard to see why this award is popular."

Steve Brandt, Steve's Livestock Transport

The prize 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 carcass removal cart designed by Gelowitz is designed out of safety and ease of removal of dead sows and large grow finish pigs from the building. Previous carts use a vertical manual winch system to hoist the carcass, which became top heavy when transporting animals to the disposal site, and took a lot of manual labor.

The new design transports animals safely with a minimal amount of lifting by employees. The design uses a 2,000 pallet jack, a parcel and product rolling system and a 12 volt electric 2,000 lb. winch.

The pallet jack has excellent maneuverability allowing access to areas 30 in. in width and has zero turn radius to maneuver around sharp corners. The roller system eases the strain of moving animals onto the platform. The battery system is housed in an RV or marine storage unit for protection from the elements. A charger system keeps the battery charged at all times. Additional design elements add strength and help prevent the loaded cart from tipping over.

It all adds up to quick and easy removal of dead animals, less risk of staff injury and increased productivity.

The new hydraulic lift deck trailer from Steve's Livestock Transport was designed in conjunction with Wilson Trailer Company of Sioux City, Iowa.

The all-aluminum deck system has a powerful hydraulic lift cylinder and stainless steel cable system that raises two full length decks into locked position. It acts as an elevator to lift livestock into different deck levels, which eliminates ramp usage to enter or exit the trailer. That reduces animal fatigue, stress and injury during movement and improves meat quality.

The new design has other attributes. It has superior ventilation through the trailer and the common contamination areas are easier to wash out. Biosecurity is enhanced. Heavy duty gates contain and separate loads. The design is also physically easier on drivers.

Hydraulic Lift Deck Trailer


Carcass Removal Cart


Major developments in the world of livestock transport biosecurity

Date posted: January 13, 2015

Rick Peters

When Steve's Livestock Transport started in business back in 1987, biosecurity was an uncommon word and cleaning transportation equipment a pretty simple process.

Since then, the company has expanded to become the largest commercial livestock transportation fleet in North America with 130 tractors and 175 trailers transporting 150,000 head of pigs a week from bases in Manitoba and Alberta. And biosecurity and disease risk management in transportation have risen dramatically in importance.

Today the company has developed a multi-set protocols designed to "provide safe and human transport of livestock in a bio-secure environment, resulting in highest profitability to the customer."

Rick Peters, vice president of operations for Steve's spoke to the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar and outlined an impressive 11 point checklist of actions their company has taken to be at the leading edge of the this area. It's also a window into a new world of sophisticated livestock transport.

Read the full feature here.

2016 Foxcroft Honorary Lectureship: Dr. Mike Tokach

Date posted: January 13, 2015

Mike Tokach (left) and George Foxcroft.

One example of knowledge leadership at each Banff Pork Seminar is the George Foxcroft Honorary Lectureship, named after the 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.

"In 2016 I am pleased to recognize Dr. Mike Tokach as the recipient of the Foxcroft Lectureship," he says. "It is presented based on the quality of his research and the contributions he has made to the swine industry."

Tokach is a University Distinguished Professor, extension specialist and swine nutritionist in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University. His research focuses on practical swine nutrition and working with industry producers to promote the rapid adoption of new technology.

National Hog Farmer magazine named Tokach one of the 50 people who have made the greatest impact on the swine industry in the last 50 years. He is the author of over 250 scientific journal articles, seven book chapters, and more than 800 extension publications. He has secured over $10 million in grants and gifts to support swine research, and he has given more than 250 invited lectures at national and international conferences. Tokach also has been awarded seven patents for his research.

Bob Kemp: Welcome to Banff Pork Seminar week

Date posted: January 13, 2016

Geoff Geddes, BPS 2016 Media contactBanff Pork Seminar chair Bob Kemp

Banff Pork Seminar chair Bob Kemp says the event has become a destination for the pork industry in Canada and he challenged delegates assembled for the 2016 seminar to help keep it that way.

In his conference opening remarks, Kemp told delegates that the seminar has changed over the years and grown significantly in importance and influence.

"It is no longer simply the Banff Pork Seminar. I believe it has become Banff Pork Seminar week with the seminar being the centerpiece."

Kemp cites the growing number of affiliated industry groups and companies that meet in and around the seminar the past several years. They include industry group meetings, training sessions, company meetings and research and development projects.

"I expect many of you arrived on Monday and are not leaving until Friday. I believe Banff Pork Seminar is truly becoming a destination for the pork industry.

Kemp adds the challenge is to how to continually enhance the seminar so that it remains that destination. "Like today, historically, the people who attended the Banff Pork Seminar represented a solid cross section of the industry. But it's a pretty good bet that years ago, not nearly as many of the delegates had an opportunity to experience the world the way people in this room do today.

"You travel the world, you have experience with the very best minds in the industry, you know first-hand the challenges faced and what others are doing that we can learn from.

"We need to tap that experience and continue to build our Banff Pork Seminar. The advisory committee works to gather input but as well-intentioned as we are, we know we do not reach as many people as we should and we certainly do not have anywhere near all the answers.

"We need your thoughts and experiences. We need you to not only think about but provide input to define the seminar and industry needs so that you write the Banff Pork Seminar into your calendar each year as an industry destination you will not miss.

The best time to do this is during seminar week, he says. "Talk to us here, send emails or use plain brown envelopes delivered in the middle of the night. Whatever it takes. If you have ideas, thoughts, compliments or complaints, tell us."

As the seminar opened on its 45th anniversary, Kemp acknowledged the advisory committee members for their efforts and time commitments and the support of their employers. He also thanked sponsors for their tremendous support.

The move back to the Banff Springs provides an excellent venue and creates many new networking opportunities, he says. The industry has been through tremendous change over several decades and that pace is ever-increasing. It needs to continue to embrace change with all players working together to enhance the industry. The 2016 Seminar program helps accomplish that.

Kemp closed his remarks with this quote from Bill Clinton: 'The future is not an inheritance; it is an opportunity and an obligation.'

"I believe this is especially relevant for Banff Pork Seminar week as we think about 'Honoring the past, embracing the future," he says.

Strong kickoff for Banff Pork Seminar 2016

Date posted: January 12, 2016

Ashley SteepleAshley Steeple

It started earlier in the year. It moved to a new venue. And that seems to be agreeable to those who chose to attend the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar. Nearly 650 of them had signed up by show time, says seminar coordinator, Ashley Steeple.

"We are grateful for the strong delegate support and we are excited to be hosting the event in new surroundings at the Banff Springs Hotel," says Steeple.

"The new venue allows us to set up meeting rooms in a convenient format, which hopefully leads to an enjoyable and fruitful experience for delegates. The organizing committee looks forward to feedback throughout the seminar from these changes."


Media activity spreads the knowledge from BPS 2016

Date posted: January 12, 2016

Geoff Geddes, BPS 2016 Media contactGeoff Geddes,
BPS 2016 Media contact

The media world is rapidly changing, but one fundamental that remains constant is that key media provide an important analysis and link to the knowledge of the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS).

This year's event sees a number of returning media among them Manitobans Judith and Harry Siemens of Siemens Says, and Barb Glen from the Western Producer in southern Alberta. Frances Anderson of Ontario Farmer returns as does Sheri Monk of the Western Hog Journal. Bruce Cochrane of Farmscape traveled from his Manitoba base. And Laurie Brandly and Brenda Kossawan of Prairie Hog Country in Leduc, Alta. signed on with the media group as well.

You will see these folks scrambling from session to session to harvest comments and attend sessions and track down additional comment afterwards. Their work feeds into media across North America and internationally.

"That open analysis is important to the credibility of the Seminar," says Geoff Geddes, communications coordinator for Alberta Pork who handles media relations during the 2016 seminar and who sits on the BPS organizing committee.

Part of the BPS communications effort is a Special Report including the Inside BPS blog, feature articles and photos. These are available for media support and industry use. The link to the report is available at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

Elanco at BPS: Working together to find you more profit

Date posted: January 8, 2016

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 2016 delegates

Date posted: January 6, 2016

The 2016 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is close. Here’s a last-minute checklist for delegates from Seminar coordinator Ashley Steeple.

New venue. Don’t forget the 2016 Seminar has a new venue, the Banff Springs Hotel.

Still time to 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 the first person to check in from your group is prepared to settle the invoice. Payment by credit card, cheque or cash is accepted.

Breakout 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. To avoid disrupting speakers and other delegates please arrive on time for sessions. Also note, 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 are critically important to planning future seminars so please fill them out.

Banff Airporter Shuttle discount. Anyone arriving by air and wishing to book the Banff Airporter Shuttle can get a discount by booking through the BPS website. Check under the Accommodations and Travel button, Airporter Shuttle tab for promo code and details. ((Bold Point)) Free downtown shuttles. These will be running between downtown and the Banff Springs during the evening. See the program for times and pickup locations.

Wear your nametag. Name badges will be required for entry into sessions, functions and meals.

Free wireless. There is free Wi-Fi in the hotel and meeting rooms. Password is bps2016.

Keep up on the latest news at the Inside BPS 2016 Special Report. Get news, photos and the Inside BPS blog in this Special Meeting Report from the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar, presented by communications partner Meristem. Find the special report link on the BPS website home page or directly on the www.meristem.com home page. Follow on Twitter at #BanffPork. 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 2016 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.

The BPS team looks forward to meeting you in Banff.

The people behind the BPS 2016 program

Date posted: January 5, 2016

The most successful programs are built on people who are willing to give their time and effort to the cause.

One reason Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) has lasted to celebrate its 45th anniversary seminar is that it has attracted people who 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 2016 BPS Advisory Committee.

  • Chair: Bob Kemp, Genesus Inc. Lethbridge, Alta.
  • Program co-chairs: Michael Dyck and Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • Conference coordinator Ashley Steeple, 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 Forestry, Brooks, Alta.
  • Cam McGavin, Topigs Norsvin Canada Winnipeg, Man.
  • John Otten, South West Ontario Veterinary Services Stratford, Ont.
  • Tom Riek, PIC Health Assurance, Airdrie, Alta.
  • Francis Simard, Nutreco Montreal, QC
  • Chris Tokaruk, Hypor Inc., Regina, Sask.
  • Ralph Tuck, Gowans Feed Consulting Strathmore, Alta.
  • Redge Watt, Fast Genetics, Spiritwood, Sask.

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

Boar Pit returns for BPS 2016

Date posted: December 17, 2015

One of the most popular sessions at recent Banff Pork Seminars has been the Boar Pit. The good news is it returns for this coming year.

The 2016 Seminar concludes with knowledgeable speakers tackling the most dynamic topics of the day in a moderated but free flowing and fun environment. Good, often provocative comments from those at the front of the room and lots of questions and the occasional good-natured heckling from the floor.

Always entertaining, definitely informative, occasionally flirting with danger depending on the topic. The 2016 topics are trade, sustainability and economics of the pork industry.

The refreshment bar stays open to reinforce the casual, comfortable atmosphere and help wrap up a great conference.

BPS plays a key role in helping industry achieve its goals

Date posted: December 17, 2015

The pork sector is a key influencer in Alberta's livestock and meat industry, often on the cutting-edge of research and innovation. With continuous advancements and changing consumer demands, sharing these scientific finds and industry advancements is important to help maintain industry momentum.

The Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is an ideal forum to communicate these advancements, discuss consumer trends, examine sector challenges and celebrate industry successes.

The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) is a proud sustaining sponsor of the BPS. Gordon Cove, ALMA President and CEO, says the networking and knowledge shared at BPS, is imperative to industry.

"Part of ALMA's role, as a catalyst, is to support industry efforts to increase its competitiveness, productivity and sustainability," says Cove. "The BPS plays a key role in starting the conversations and developing relations that will help the pork sector achieve these goals."

The business case for attending Banff Pork Seminar 2016

Date posted: December 11, 2015

Dr. Bob Kemp, 2016 BPS Chair

Anyone who has been out for a restaurant meal in the past year or paid a hotel bill knows that travel is an expensive proposition these days. But business doesn't get done without it.

So what's the business rationale for attending the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS)? Seminar chair, Dr. Bob Kemp thinks it's stronger than ever.

"I am strong on networking and what people can get out of that," he says. "It's not just meeting producers, industry people and some of the speakers. It's getting engaged in some of the presentations. To me that is a business benefit that people could get more out of.

"I go to a lot of BPS breakout sessions and in some there is really good discussion and in some, hardly any at all. I don't think that's necessarily the fault of the speaker or the material presented. From a delegate perspective there is so much to be gained from engaging the speakers. That often leads to valuable discussion. From a business perspective that's so important."

Kemp says he has not seen a meeting that is any better than BPS for both the depth and the breadth of information provided. "From a breadth perspective we cover areas from health, to analyzing benchmark data, to feed, to genomics, new tech research and so on. From the depth side we address issues from a global industry perspective, a consumer perspective and a producer perspective, right down to what can happen, what can work and what can be put into practice on the farm.

"Our exhibitors are strong. They are not just there as exhibitors, they are there as delegates and many attend sessions. If you listen to the conversations in the networking times there is a lot of discussion between exhibitors and other delegates regarding the presentations.

"In my opinion this has become less of a place for making direct sales and more a place of exchanging knowledge and building relationships," he says. "As a result, people are prepared not only to make the financial commitment to attend but the time commitment as well."

When you put all that together it's one reason we see so many exhibitors being innovative in how they use the seminar to bring together their teams, says Kemp. Many bring clients and set up meetings around the seminar schedule. "Just try setting up a meeting at a late date and you will find many of the spots are already booked or that the people you want are already booked."

"That's what we are trying to accomplish, making this seminar a solid business destination," he says. "We are seeing more industry groups set up meetings around the seminar activity. We hope that continues and that it works well for them and it will benefit our delegates.

"And we hope people will continue to make this a destination to combine business with some fun. Successful teams know that is important for them and their clients. And Banff is one great place to do that."

Key social events highlight BPS 2016

Date posted: December 10, 2015

There is always lots of time for networking and enjoyable discussion at Banff Pork Seminar (BPS), but three key social events anchor things for the 2016 seminar.

The welcome reception runs 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 12. Delegates can register, get their questions answered about the seminar and enjoy refreshments with industry counterparts. Afterwards, there are many places in the hotel to enjoy an evening meal for those who wish to do so.

Then on Wednesday, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the main conference room, it's Casino Night. Try your hand at poker, blackjack roulette and more. It's like farming but with play money. It all wraps up in time to enjoy a nice evening out in beautiful Banff.

Finally, on Thursday, The Boar Pit reception closes out the 2016 Seminar. A chance to get updated on industry issues in a casual setting, say farewell to old and new friends and head for home.

Full program details are on the BPS website www.banffpork.ca.

Alberta Pork a charter sponsor of BPS

Date posted: December 9, 2015

Stable; Accountable; Progressive. They're three qualities that define Alberta Pork and the Banff Pork Seminar. And they explain why Alberta Pork was a founding agency of the seminar and a leading sponsor from day one.

"Our mission is supporting pork producers to enhance prosperity," says Alberta Pork Executive Director Darcy Fitzgerald. "Our industry is dynamic and highly competitive, so staying current with the latest research and technology is critical to success. By bringing together leading experts from around the world, the Banff Pork Seminar helps us fulfill our mission and aids producers in achieving their goals."

As BPS prepares to celebrate its 45th anniversary, Fitzgerald attributes its longevity to the unique benefits and value gained by those who attend.

"While other seminars come and go, BPS has an enviable track record of stability. Add to that its accountability to sponsors and attendees and its progressive nature, and you see why it's still considered the leading seminar of its kind in Canada. Alberta Pork is proud to call BPS a partner in our ongoing efforts to advance the industry."

A thank you to BPS sponsors

Date posted: November 20, 2015

Sponsors will be thanked throughout the Banff Pork Seminar in a number of ways. But the delegates enjoying the conference may want to stop and think about what the support of these sponsors means for them.

It lowers the cost of attending. "To put on a conference of this scale and impact would cost almost double what we charge if it were not for sponsor support," says program co-chair Ruurd Zijlstra. "That's a significant and direct benefit to all delegates.

"Added to that the delegates that come on sponsor teams add a huge amount of value to networking opportunities for all delegates throughout the week," he says.

"There are more than 70 sponsors in total and their diversity is significant," adds co-chair, Michael Dyck. "Here are the 2016 sponsors listed in order of sponsorship category starting with the largest contributors. We thank them all for their support."

Sustaining Sponsors

  • Alberta Pork
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd.
  • Elanco Animal Health
  • PIC
  • Swine Innovation Porc
  • Topigs Norsvin Canada

Premier Plus sponsors

  • Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement
  • Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta
  • DuPont - Danisco Animal Nutrition
  • Hypor Inc., A Hendrix Genetics Company
  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
  • Merck Animal Health
  • Olymel
  • Pharmgate Animal Health Inc
  • PigGen Canada
  • South West Ontario Veterinary Services
  • Zoetis Canada Inc.

Premier sponsors

  • APC, Inc.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Inc.
  • Canadaian Bio-Systems Inc.
  • Carlo Genetics
  • Fast Genetics
  • Hylife Ltd.
  • Magapor SL
  • Maximus Systems
  • Western Hog Exchange

Select sponsors

  • Agri Stats, Inc.
  • Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC)
  • Ajinomoto Heartland Inc.
  • Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
  • Automated Production (AP)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  • Canola Council of Canada
  • Champion Alstoe Animal Health
  • DNA Genetics
  • DSM Nutritional Products Inc
  • EastGen / IMV
  • Farm Credit Canada
  • Genesus
  • H@ms Marketing Services Co-op
  • Hi-Pro Feeds LP
  • Horizon Livestock & Poultry Supply
  • Jefo Nutrition Inc
  • Jyga Technologies Inc.
  • Kane Veterinary Services/Hipra
  • Ketchum Manufacturing
  • Lallemand Animal Nutrition
  • Manitoba Pork Council
  • Masterfeeds
  • MOFA Global
  • New Standard West Equipment
  • Nutriad Inc.
  • Nutrition Partners Inc.
  • Pancosma Canada
  • Prairie Hog Country
  • Steve's Livestock Transport
  • Sunterra Farms Ltd
  • Trouw Nutrition Agresearch - Nutreco
  • Walbern Agri-Systems (1991) Ltd.
  • Western Financial Group
  • Western Hog Journal

Supporting Sponsors

  • Adisseo
  • Aon Reed Stenhouse Ltd.
  • Biomin Canada
  • Canadian Pork Council
  • Diamond V
  • IVS & Standard Nutrition
  • Parks Livestock of Canada
  • Penner Farm Services
  • Swine Health Professionals
  • Warman Veterinary Services
  • Zinpro Performance Minerals

Hear the most powerful farm animal welfare speaker in the world

Date posted: November 5, 2015

Dr. Temple Grandin

She is known around the world and speaks regularly to sold-out audiences. Her work and her life have been featured in a multiple award winning movie. She has been on the cover of TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

She has dedicated her life to farm animal welfare and her work has revolutionized how industry and society view farm animal care and handling. In the process she has become arguably the most powerful spokesperson on the topic in the world.

She is Dr. Temple Grandin and she is coming to the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar.

"We are delighted to have Dr. Grandin speak on animal welfare and public perceptions," says Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra, program co-chair for the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar. "Farm animal care has moved well beyond issues such as gestation stalls, into a major topic with broad implications in society.

"Dr. Grandin brings a clarity of thought and purpose that audiences will find both refreshing and challenging," adds Zijlstra. "She will be a key presentation in our 2016 program and one you won't want to miss."

The new frontier of swine health and genomics

Date posted: November 5, 2015

It's one of the most promising areas of swine animal health. Genomics, the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes looms large over the livestock industry as it does in society.

"We're really looking at using genomics and relating sustainable management in combination to improve swine health," says Michael Dyck, program co-chair for 2016 Banff Pork Seminar. "We are going beyond just biosecurity and identifying animals that are genetically more resilient to disease and opportunities to select for enhanced resilience. That's particularly important in an environment with limited antibiotic use."

In a power packed Breakout Session 6, hear from seven speakers at the forefront of this emerging area.

Graham Plastow, University of Alberta looks at genomics and swine health in Canada to date. Benny Mote, University of Nebraska-Lincoln looks at the impacts of moving "clean" gilts into "health challenged" commercial sow farms. And Nick Serao, North Carolina State University speaks on genetic improvement of sow and gilt reproductive performance via immunity.

Jack Dekkers, Iowa State University speaks on Genetics of PRRSV in the growing pigs.
John Harding, University of Saskatchewan examines PRRSV and the pregnant female.
Graham Plastow, University of Alberta returns with a provocative topic, "Learning to date and the way forward for genetics and swine health."

To close things off, Michael Dyck, University of Alberta will provide an overview of the innovative Genome Canada Project being launched.

Prospering when antibiotics are under the microscope

Date posted: November 5, 2015

One of the fastest growing points of contention in livestock production is the use of antibiotics. Banff Pork Seminar 2016 Breakout Session 7 can help.

"A number of producers are changing how they use antibiotics so our discussion will have advice on how to get into antibiotic free production systems and then how to manage once you are in them," says program co-chair, Dr. Michael Dyck.

"The issue is not about eliminating antibiotics but rather how to use them effectively," adds program co-chair," Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra.

Veterinarians and nutritionists will talk about things producers can change to meet the demands of the fast changing world of production. Gail Cunningham of Boehringer Ingelheim addresses "Antimicrobial Use 2016 & Beyond: Industry Challenges & Opportunities."

Frédéric Beaulac, Triple-V Veterinary Services Inc. looks at "Controlled Use of Antibiotics." And Francis Simard, Trouw Nutrition Agresearch – Nutreco looks at the issue "From a Feed and Management Perspective."

New venue, new benefits for BPS delegates

Date posted: November 5, 2015

If a cruise is judged by the quality of the food, a conference is often judged by the facilities.

The Banff Springs Hotel, which will host the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar, delivers the best of two worlds: Historic significance and a beautiful location known around the world, and the very best of modern conference facilities.

"When people heard that we were moving back to our roots, the Banff Springs Hotel where the conference started out over 44 years ago, the most frequent reaction was excitement," says seminar program co-chair, Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra.

"They could see the opportunity to bring family along. And they liked the fact that everything is under one roof. We want to deliver a venue where people can network and share thoughts in a pleasant environment. We're convinced this facility allows us to do that."

"The conference center is laid out so we can have the exhibitor area, conference sessions and refreshment centers are all in very close proximity," adds Dr. Michael Dyck, program co-chair. "That allows people to meet over meals and discuss what went on in the sessions and what is going on in the industry."

Lunch and receptions are included in the Seminar registration, but all other meals are at the discretion of the registrant. There are a number of options for restaurants right in the hotel. And there will be a shuttle service running downtown for those who want to explore Banff in the evening.

"With several restaurants and bars within the hotel, there are new options for people to meet there," adds Dyck. "We encourage people to explore the venue. There is a fitness area, spa, mineral pools and even a bowling alley. It really is quite amazing how the hotel has been able to bring all of that together."

Registration checklist for 2016 BPS

Date posted: October 7, 2015

Networking opportunities abound at BPS

So you’re thinking of coming to Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2016? As you ponder, here are some key points to consider.

  • It’s earlier. The 2016 Seminar is a week earlier than previous years.
  • New venue. BPS heads back to its original home, the Banff Springs Hotel.
  • Presentations and people. Your Banff Pork Seminar registration fee will get you in to hear some of the best speakers on the leading issues of the day. Equally important is the networking opportunity with a large group of delegates. Your registration also includes a copy of the seminar proceedings, coffee/networking breaks and lunches on January 13 and 14, and evening receptions on Jan. 12, 13 and 14.
  • Pick your breakouts. You get a choice of two morning and two afternoon breakout sessions. The most popular ones can go fast so book early.
  • Save with early registration. Register by Nov.15, 2015 and receive an early registration discount of $50 per delegate. Late registration begins Dec 21, 2015.
  • Group discounts. For multiple registrants attending from the same organization there are group discounts available. Check the BPS website for more information
  • 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. 20, 2015 or will be subject to full conference fees.
  • Online registration. It will be available right up until Jan. 12 provided space is available.
  • Cancellation. Cancellations received by Dec. 20, 2015 will be refunded minus a $75 per delegate administration fee. Cancellation requests received Dec. 21, 2015 or later will not be refunded. However, substitutions are permitted.
  • Media registration. Media are welcome to attend but asked to register. Check with BPS for details.

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

Media registration for 2016 BPS

Date posted: October 7, 2015

An important role for the Banff Pork Seminar over the past 44 years has been to get information on key issues out to the industry and the broader world. Media are a key part of that effort.

As always, media are welcome to attend the 2016 Seminar.

For background information on media registration for the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar click here. For a media registration form click here. Or to speak to someone directly call the Seminar office by phone at (780) 492-3651, or by email at .

“We appreciate the long-standing coverage by media of the Banff Pork Seminar,” says seminar coordinator Ashley Steeple. “We thank them for their understanding and support of our efforts to provide accurate information to the pork industry.”

Nomination call for 2016 Banff Pork Seminar Aherne Prize

Date posted: October 7, 2015

Nothing fuels the success of an industry like a strong culture of innovation. The 2016 Banff Pork Seminar is supporting the recognition of those who drive these accomplishments, by calling on nominations from across the North American pork industry for candidates to win the F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production.

“Continual innovation is the foundation of any successful industry and presenting this award is one of the highlights of the Banff Pork Seminar” says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne prize committee. “The award is an opportunity to recognize those individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses for known technology.”

Nominations are encouraged and accepted up to and including the entry deadline of October 31, 2015. Individuals may nominate themselves or another industry candidate by following instructions available on the Banff Pork Seminar website at www.banffpork.ca. Innovations nominated can apply to any segment of the pork industry including feeding; breeding; ventilation; disease control and prevention; manure management; facility or enterprise management; and pork quality and safety.

“Any innovation big or small can qualify and win,” says Dyck. “We are proud to offer this chance for anyone associated with the pork industry in Canada, United States or Mexico to strut their stuff as technology innovators and show how you put it into practice.”

Up to two prizes are available to be awarded to innovators at the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Jan. 12-14. The prizes include registration and travel valued at $2,000 each, along with the outstanding opportunity to have their innovations highlighted at this leading pork industry conference.

The award is named after 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.

Banff Pork Seminar appoints new coordinator

Date posted: September 30, 2015

The Banff Pork Seminar has appointed Ashley Steeple as new coordinator for the 2016 event.

Steeple, an animal science graduate, brings a background of several years' experience in various positions that included conference coordination. Most recently she worked as program manager with the Environmental Farm Plan in Alberta.

The 2016 Seminar, January 12 to 14, 2016 is the 45th consecutive, a significant milestone.

"The Banff Pork Seminar has developed an enviable reputation for bringing together the very best speakers on the most critical issues of the day," says Steeple. "I understand the work that goes on behind the scenes and during the event to build that reputation and I look forward to working to continue the tradition in 2016 and into the future."

The "Inside" story on Banff Pork Seminar 2016

Date posted: September 30, 2015

The headline on the top of this page tells it all. The Inside BPS Special Meeting Report has been set up to bring those attending the event and the world they represent, the best information from "inside" the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS).

It is produced by Meristem editors in partnership with the BPS organizing committee.

That relationship has continued for well over a decade and it's one we are proud to continue again this year. Over the past 45 years this Seminar has grown enormously in scale and impact. Today it provides a perspective on a modern, global pork industry as well as broader agricultural issues and developments. It attracts people from across 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 2016 communications effort.

The center of the action. The best place to get everything you need to know about the 2016 Seminar, Jan. 12 to 14 is the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

Inside BPS blog. The blog item you are reading now is the first of many more to come with key information and perspective prior to, during and immediately following the 2016 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 2016 and linked to www.meristem.com.

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 in past years, 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 #BanffPork hashtag. Follow NewStream by Meristem at Twitter handle @NewStreamTweets. Follow the Banff Pork Seminar at Twitter handle @BanffPork and on the BPS Facebook page.

If you have questions, Banff Pork Seminar organizers will do their best to answer them for you. It will be a great Seminar and Banff will be spectacular as always.