The Swine Teaching and Research Center is comprised of two sites: the Main Farm and the Intensive Research Unit. The Main Farm is located on the southern edge of campus, and is where the largest number of pigs are produced. The Intensive Research Unit is at the Biosystems and Environmental Research and Education Center on College Road, just across from the Dairy Farm and is for intensive studies.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center is a limited access farm, open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Persons interested in touring must stay away from pigs at other farms for a minimum of 48 hours and must not have visited a foreign country in the 7 days prior to visiting the farm. Persons wanting to tour the main farm will have to shower in the farm’s facilities and wear farm provided clothing. Groups numbering larger than 20 people may be eligible for entry through the farms “Danish-entry” room. Persons interested in visiting other sites will have to wear farm provided clothing (coveralls, boots, etc.). Anyone wishing to visit the Swine Teaching and Research Center must first contact Kevin Turner (517-355-7485) to determine possible dates and times.
The swine farm’s primary mission is to work with faculty and staff as they complete their research, teaching and extension/outreach programs. Animals produced are used for research in nutrition, behavior, genetics, environmental management, meat science and muscle biology, and production management. Animals are also used for class projects and experiences for all MSU students, as well as many 4-H, FFA, and other youth and adult activities.
The Main Farm was completed in 1997. This is a shower-in and shower-out facility. The manager’s office, a break area for employees, locker/shower rooms, a conference room and a machine room comprise the administrative portion of this facility. The animal facility consists of one continuous structure and includes boar and sow housing, 4 farrowing, 4 nursery and 4 finishing rooms. This facility houses about 240 sows, and will finish about 50% of their production or 2,200 pigs per year.
Early weaned litters from the original swine farm, which is located north of the Main Farm; established the existing Yorkshire herd at the Main Farm. The original swine farm is no longer in use. Pigs were weaned at 7 to 10 days of age and moved to the nursery at the Main Farm. After the Main Farm was initially stocked, the facility was closed and no other pigs have been brought into the facility. No pigs from outside sources will be brought into maintain the breeding herd. Only semen from approved health status boar studs will be used to maintain the breeding program.
The sow herd at the Main Farm is primarily purebred Yorkshires. For the most part Yorkshire sows are mated to terminal boars through artificial insemination or post-cervical artificial insemination. Terminal lines used are those that best suit project needs. Some sows are mated to produce purebred litters for replacement gilts. Boars that are kept at the Main Farm are produced at the farm and are used mostly for estrous detection while a few purebred boars are used to mate purebred Yorkshire females.
At the Main Farm, most of the manure is handled in a unique solid separation system. A scraper system is used to collect the solids, which are then composted. Liquid material is channeled to an above ground, glass lined tank. This process eliminates much of the odor normally associated with swine production, and provides more control of possible environmental contaminants. Once treated and stored properly, the waste is spread upon MSU cropland, or exported to area farms, and applied at proper levels and intervals to meet the guidelines set by the Michigan Department of Agriculture for environmental safeguards.
The Intensive Research Unit consists of 2 rooms. Each room will hold 12 sows, or 50 small pigs at any one time. Intensive nutrition, metabolism and behavior studies have primarily been conducted at the location.
Pigs at all locations are primarily fed a corn-soybean meal diet, fortified to meet or exceed the National Research Council’s recommendations for each phase of production. Antibiotics and other additives are only used in diets for younger pigs or for therapeutic needs upon recommendation of MSU veterinarians, and are in accordance with USDA accepted allowances. Routine use of feed grade antibiotics in growing-finishing and sow rations is avoided. Market animals are on self-feeders to allow ad-libitum feeding. In full production, the Main Farm will farrow 36 litters once per month and litters will be weaned at approximately 28 days of age. Computerized records indicate that conception rates are about 80%, that litters average 10.5 pigs born alive, 9.6 raised, that weigh 190 pounds at 28 days. These pigs reach a target market weight of 235 pounds at 4.5 months of age and consistently grade 53-55% lean.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center has two full time employees. Mr. Kevin Turner is the farm manager. A native of Prescott, Michigan Kevin graduated from MSU in 2004 with a degree in Agricultural business management, specializing in Food Industry Management. Before becoming Manager, Kevin was the Assistant Farm Manager and prior to that he was employed with Iowa Select Farms and managed a 5,200 sow farm. Kevin is in charge of the various day to day operations at the farm. While employed at MSU, Kevin obtained his Master of Science degree in Swine Nutrition.
Mr. Chris Rozeboom is the operational supervisor and works closely with the farm manager, students, researchers and staff to coordinate and facilitate the daily functions and mission objectives. A native, of Schoolcraft, Michigan; Chris graduated from the swine technical program in 2005. Prior to returning to MSU in this capacity in the summer of 2015, Chris was employed by Iowa Select farms and managed several different commercial sow units. The Swine Teaching and Research Center employs 4 or more students each semester who complete much of the day-to-day animal care. Students interested in working at the swine farm are encouraged to contact Kevin Turner.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center employs 4 or more students each semester who complete much of the day-to-day animal care. Students interested in working at the swine farm are encouraged to contact Kevin Turner.