Swine Teaching & Research Center

at Michigan State University

Farm Manager

Kevin Turner

Operational Supervisor

Chris Rozeboom

Faculty Coordinator

Dr. Dale Rozeboom

Location

4813 Power Line Dr. (main swine farm)
Lansing, MI  48910
517-203-6564

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.

Visitor Information

At this time, our farm is closed to visitors. 

About the Center

Mission

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, animal welfare, 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.

Facility Description

The Main Farm was completed in 1997 and populated in January of 1998. This is a bio-secure, closed herd, 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 approximately 50% of their production or 2,500 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 since 1998. No pigs from outside sources will be brought into maintain the breeding herd; only semen from approved health status boar studs is 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 research needs. The farm also employs estrous-synchronizing techniques and fixed-time insemination to ensure sows farrow in tightly grouped batches. 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/liquid 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.

Animal Production and Sales

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 for therapeutic needs upon recommendation of MSU veterinarians, and are in accordance with USDA accepted allowances.  In full production, the Main Farm will farrow 48 litters every 5 weeks and litters will be weaned at approximately 28 days of age. Computerized records indicate that conception rates are about 90%, that litters average 11.5 pigs born alive, 10.5 pigs weaned, that weigh ~200 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 facility sells animals to a variety of markets beyond the scope of its mission.  Feeders pigs are sold monthly at 40-50 lb. to producers of varying sizes.  Pigs that are market ready can also be purchased, as well as varying sizes of pigs for roasting purposes.  Breeding stock in the form of boars, unbred gilts and bred, multiparous sows can be purchased.  Breeding stock production to meet specific customer needs can also be facilitated if production and mission needs allow.  The facility also breeds both Yorkshire and exotic females to high-end show sires to produce stock for exhibition by 4-H and FFA youth at county, regional and national shows.  These pigs are typically born January- March and are ideal for exhibitions occurring mid-June through mid-September each year.  Contact the farm manager with questions about animal purchases.

Personnel

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 oversees the farms student employees and the various day to day operations and research at the farm to ensure mission expectations are met.  While employed at MSU, Kevin obtained his Master of Science degree in Swine Nutrition with a focus on water-delivered, antibiotic alternatives for use in nursery pigs.

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 as the farm’s operational supervisor in the summer of 2015, Chris was employed by Iowa Select farms and managed several different commercial sow units.  Chris brought with him a wealth of knowledge and helped the facility adopt post-cervical, artificial insemination.

Students

The Swine Teaching and Research Center employs students each semester who complete much of the day-to-day animal care and are offered hand-on learning across a variety of swine and farm related skills. Students interested in working at the swine farm are encouraged to contact Kevin Turner.