SMART Farmer Leon Sheets

cindy zimmerman Leave a Comment

In this episode of the SMART Farmer podcast, we hear from America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, Leon Sheets, who raises 33,000 pigs a year in northeast Iowa along with his wife and son. SMART Farmer podcast listeners may remember that we interviewed last year’s Pig Farmer of the Year Brad Greenway from South Dakota, who also serves as chairman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).

The annual award is sponsored by the National Pork Board and recognizes a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs with an emphasis on animal care and environmental sustainability. Leon was actually the first runner-up last year when Leslie McCuiston was selected for the title, but she had to step down after taking a new position in the ag industry where she does not directly work with pigs, which is obviously the main requirement for Pig Farmer of the Year! But Leon has enthusiastically stepped up to fill the role and you can hear that enthusiasm in this podcast, which was recorded at the recent National Pork Forum.

Download or listen to this podcast here:
SMART Farmer Leon Sheets

If you have not yet subscribed to the SMART Farmer podcast and this is brand new to you, you can do it today and binge listen to all 24 podcasts produced to date. Also, SMART Farmer is now on TuneIn.

Subscribe to the SMART Farmer podcast

Learn more about USFRA and SMART Farm

AgWired Animal, Audio, Pork, Pork Checkoff, Pork Forum, SMART Farmer, USFRA

Animal Ag Bites 3/19

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

  • The Dairy Alliance‘s Global Dairy Summit convened state agriculture officials, industry stakeholders and thought leaders from across the Southeast to rally around a plan to reverse the dire economic circumstances facing the 2,000 local, family-owned farms in the Southeast. Since 2010, the U.S. has lost nearly a quarter of its dairy farms nationwide, and the situation is even worse in the Southeast, with a 33% loss. U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) CEO and President Tom Vilsack introduced USDEC’s “Next 5% Plan” that features common sense, proactive measures to reverse the economic tide for dairy farmers by 2025.
  • CattleFax celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018. The member-owned organization serves producers in all segments of the cattle and beef business. To view a YouTube video about the CattleFax 50th anniversary, go here.
  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Stockmanship and Stewardship events provide beef and dairy producers with hands-on training, cattle handling demonstrations, beef quality assurance (BQA) certifications and more. Five regional events have been scheduled for 2018: Aug. 24-25 in Clemson, South Carolina; Sept. 21-22 in Montrose, Colorado; Oct. 5-6 in Stephenville, Texas; Oct. 12-13 in Pasco, Washington; and Dec. 12-13 in Tulare, California (dairy focused event).
  • Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will debunk myths about animal agriculture’s environmental impact at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va. Mitloehner is a professor and extension air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert on agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry. To register, visit
  • Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, the largest egg producer in Michigan, has accepted a 2018 U.S. Poultry & Egg Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award. The Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award recognizes exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.
  • Hiland Dairy is giving away two family vacations to Silver Dollar City. With Hiland Dairy’s #RideWithHiland, which began March 1 and runs through June 30, 2018, Hiland customers and fans have the chance to win one of two prize packages that each include five front-of-the-line park passes to Silver Dollar City, hotel accommodations, a prepaid gas card, free Hiland Dairy products and a cooler to keep them cold. The winners will be announced on July 15, 2018.
AgWired Animal, Animal Bites

Barricade Vaccine Reducing Nursery Mortality

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

A field veterinarian who has experience with Aptimmune‘s Barricade Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) vaccine plans to continue using the product. Dr. Brigitte Mason with Country View Family Farms said the vaccine significantly reduced nursery mortality when introduced into two PRRS-positive sow units.

“We have already started implementing it in our other sow unit and we’re going to do it pre-break. So, even if we don’t have a PRRS break, we’re still going to implement this product at processing. Hopefully we never do, but if we do ever have another PRRS break, we’ll implement it at weaning,” said Mason, who spoke at the 2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium in San Diego.

Although she said the vaccine can be a bit challenging to administer because it is a nasal spray, it is doable with a team of two or more people. Mason said it’s worth the effort to see more pigs survive and grow to market weight.

2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium Photo Album

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Brigitte here: Interview with Dr. Brigitte Mason, Country View Family Farms

AgWired Animal

Lucky Alltech KEENAN Great Green Getaway Winners

cindy zimmerman Leave a Comment

For three U.S. dairy producers, the luck of the Irish was on their side when their names were selected in a live, random drawing at the 2017 World Dairy Expo for the Alltech KEENAN Great Green Getaway.

Hank and Joanne Greisen of Wisconsin; Mary and Mike Van Rossum of Wisconsin, and Ashley Ervin and her sisters have all been enjoying the journey of a lifetime this week in the Emerald Isle, including a tour of the KEENAN production facility in Borris, County Carlow, Ireland, a guided VIP experience at the new Pearse Lyons Distillery, and visits to a number of high-performance Irish dairy farms. The grande finale will be St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin City Centre.

Jamie Johansen has been with the group all week and gotten to know them and their unique stories. Listen to her interviews with the winners below.

Great Green Getaway winner Ashley Ervin, Tennessee

Great Green Getaway winners Hans & Joanne Griesen, Wisconsin

Great Green Getaway winners Micheal & Mary Van Rossum, Wisconsin

2018 Great Green Getaway Photo Album

AgWired Animal, Alltech, Audio, Dairy, KEENAN

Cabinet Members Testify on Infrastructure Needs

cindy zimmerman Leave a Comment

USDA photo

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and four other cabinet members testified this week before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled “Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Administration Perspectives.” Secretary Perdue was joined by Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Perdue stressed the need for improved transportation infrastructure for roads, railways and waterways, but he also noted the importance of broadband internet access. “Today the high-speed internet is that interstate highway of the 21st century. And we need a ubiquitous highspeed internet system across this country not only for the farm steads and the rural towns but the fields of America,” said Perdue.

USDA secretary Sonny Perdue infrastructure testimony

AgWired Animal, Audio, usda

New Isolation Technique Improves Vaccine Development

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

Scientific breakthroughs in the way a virus can be isolated from diagnostic samples are improving the development of vaccines to fight porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.

The success rate was not good when the virus was isolated in traditional simian (MARC-145) cells. The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is working with Aptimmune Biologics, Inc. to use the porcine alveolar macrophage (ZMAC) cell line instead. Dr. Jianqiang Zhang said that has been much more successful.

“So basically we have one more tool to improve this PRRS virus isolation diagnostics and then can better serve veterinarian requirements and also it’s good for the swine industry to combat against PRRS,” said Zhang, who is a diagnostic virologist with a focus on swine medicine.

That higher success rate can provide the isolation needed from diagnostic samples to include the most relevant strains in PRRS vaccines. Zhang shared the advancements at the 2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium in San Diego.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Zhang here: Dr. Jianqiang Zhang, Iowa State University

2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium

AgWired Animal, Animal Agriculture, Aptimmune, Audio

Outsmarting the PRRS Virus

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

The 2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium focused on the success of the Barricade vaccine for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), which was introduced in 2017.

“PRRS is a daunting challenge and a difficult vaccine to not only develop but also manage in the production world,” said Dr. Bob Nordgren, chairman of the board for Aptimmune. “For 20 years, we’ve come up with relatively few breakthroughs in the area of PRRS vaccination. And designing a vaccine rationally and how you want the vaccine to work in the piglet has been the target of Aptimmune and is the result of the process we’ve established today.”

Nordgren said part of the challenge has been that the PRRS virus can sustain itself in the individual animal as well as in the environment when presented as a modified live virus. However, an inactive vaccine inserted as an oil emulsion into the muscle is also not right for this situation. Aptimmune’s Barricade virus presents as a “live-like” virus to the tissue that is responsible for letting the PRRS virus in. The company shared results of field trials over the past year during this year’s event.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Nordgren here: Interview with Dr. Bob Nordgren, Aptimmune

2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium Photo Album

AgWired Animal, Animal Agriculture, Aptimmune, Audio

Aptimmune Vaccines Gaining Popularity

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

Aptimmune is looking to grow its presence in the swine vaccine market with the success of Barricade for porcine reproductive & respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

“It’s kind of an exciting time because we launched the product over a year ago and we’ve got customers that are using the product, evaluating it in a number of trials,” said Steve Berger, director of development for Aptimmune. “We’re excited about this next phase. As the vaccine is taken up in the market, the demand is increasing and putting more pressure on the manufacturing operations, which are good problems to have. We’re looking forward to the next growth phase of Aptimmune.”

Berger said the company has just added an influenza vaccine to the portfolio and is working on a combination PRRS/flu product. Aptimmune is also working toward federal licensing, which would allow the sale of product formulations across the country instead of state by state.

2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium Photo Album

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Steve here: Interview with Steve Berger, Aptimmune

AgWired Animal, Animal Agriculture, Aptimmune, Audio, Swine

Aptimmune Shares Barricade Vaccine Field Data

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

In the year since Aptimmune launched the Barricade vaccine to fight porcine reproductive & respiratory syndrome (PRRS), the company has been gathering field data from 30 different veterinarians in 12 different states.

“We’ve been able to see a 50 percent reduction in mortality across the board, so it’s been very rewarding,” said Dr. Jessica Seate, professional service veterinarian for Aptimmune. “In addition, we’ve also seen we can improve the number of pigs that are culled or rejected. We’ve also got improvements in antibiotic treatment programs.”

Seate said the data also looked at average daily gain and there are improvements there, as well. The company shared those results at the 2018 Aptimmune Scientific Symposium in San Diego.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Jessica Seate here: Interview with Dr. Jessica Seate, Aptimmune

AgWired Animal, Animal Agriculture, Aptimmune, Audio, Swine

Animal Ag Bites 3/12

carrie muehling Leave a Comment

  • U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the appointment of 11 members and 10 alternates to serve on the American Egg Board. More information about the board is available on the American Egg Board website.
  • Under an export certificate recently negotiated between the two countries, the United States now can ship pork to Paraguay. While the South American country is a modest consumer of pork, there is potential for U.S. pork export growth to its nearly 6.9 million people, who have a per capita income greater than, for example, the Philippines and Vietnam, two large pork-consuming nations.
  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will present a webinar entitled: The 4’s of Crossbreeding: Simple, Structured, Successful, and Sustainable on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. CT. Click here to register.
  • The World Dairy Expo Board of Directors, Commercial Exhibitor Committee and Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee conducted annual meetings on March 5 and 6 at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis. These groups of business professionals, dairy producers and Expo exhibitors set new initiatives for the 2018 World Dairy Expo, October 2 through 6, in addition to welcoming new members during their respective meetings.
  • The American Quarter Horse Association elected a new Executive Committee at the 2018 AQHA Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more convention coverage at
  • The Angus Journal is seeking a new editor as it restructures its current editorial team. The editor will take on the day-to-day management of the print and digital components of the Angus Journal, as well as provide editorial support for other publications of Angus Media as time allows. The new editor will report to the president of Angus Media and have direct management of the editorial team, including a main role in selecting several new team members. For more information or to apply for this new position, visit the careers section of, or email
  • World Dairy Expo is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Expo Recognition Awards to be formally presented at the 52nd annual event in October. The 2018 honorees are as follows: Dairy Woman of the Year – Jeanette Sheehan, Sheeknoll Farms, Rochester, Minnesota; Dairyman of the Year – Pete Kappelman, Meadow Brook Dairy Farms, LLC, Two Rivers, Wisconsin; Industry Person of the Year – Dr. Dan Hornickel and Dr. Chris Keim, Sunshine Genetics, Inc., Whitewater, Wisconsin; and International Person of the Year – Alastair Pearson, World Wide Sires China Co. Ltd, Beijing, China.
  • AgWired Animal, Animal Bites