Data Sharing: A Promising Partnership

A couple weeks ago, Dr. Fix and I had the opportunity to travel to Northern Illinois for a visit with Jim Moest. Jim and his brother, Steve, are owner-operators of High Plains Pork.
In the last year, High Plains Pork has partnered with PureTek Genetics in the use of purebred genetics in a commercial test herd. This partnership is proving to be a win-win-win situation, with High Plains Pork, PureTek Genetics, and National Swine Registry (NSR) all realizing the genetic benefits of collaboration and data sharing between the commercial and purebred industries.

For Jim and Steve, they not only receive genetic services from NSR through Clint Schwab and Justin Fix, but they are also making advances in their commercial herd that would be difficult to attain outside of this partnership. “We’re speeding up that process because we’re getting the best boars on a third of our herd, so around 600 sows a year,” Jim says. “That’s a big thing. We look at this as a long-term relationship with PureTek, and we want to build that up.”

Every three weeks, semen from top level PureTek Genetics nucleus sires is sent to the High Plains commercial sow herd for single sire matings. These pigs are individually tagged at birth, tracked for mortality through finishing barn closeout, and weighed and scanned for body composition just prior to harvest. All of this data collected from the commercial test herd goes back into the STAGES database, which in turn provides greater information for selections within the nucleus populations of PureTek Genetics.

Data tracking: from single sire matings to individual piglet identification at farrowing.

All pigs in the High Plains Pork commercial test herd are individually tagged within 24 hours of birth.

The individual ear tags allow data to be tracked for each pig from farrow to finish.

 Here is what Dr. Fix has to say about the data partnering of these entities:

“With the known existence of G x E interactions that result in genetics responding differently to the nucleus versus commercial environment, commercial test herds are a necessity to maximize genetic improvement. This advantage to genetic progress is further complimented with the ability to capture a greater number of observations for each sire used. The testing herd differentiates itself from others in that it is a complete program – obviously, all nucleus sires used in the test herd are connected to the database, but because the commercial sow herd is of known parentage, it can be connected to the genetic database as well.”  

This collaborative effort between a successful commercial producer and a reputable group of purebred producers is not only a testament to the future of the purebred industry, but it also serves as a great model for other producers to follow. For the full story on the High Plains Pork commercial test herd and their collaboration with PureTek Genetics, make sure you check out the 2012 GeneLink magazine that will be out in April.

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