Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thank You

As we begin to wrap up the show season in the midwest and our southwest customers are beginning their season we wanted to stop and take a minute to thank all of our customers past, present, and future.

We have enjoyed hearing about your successes and how TrueGlo helped you reach your goals. The notes we receive telling us how our products have performed really mean a lot to us  We'd love to share them all with you but we chose a couple that represent the whole.

"Just wanted to say Thank you ! We fed True glo for the first time this year and it did everything you claimed it would. The pigs stayed healthy all season as others around us were struggling with sick pigs. The pigs appetite was great, they would even stand at the feeder just waiting for us to top dress their feed with True Glo and then they would go to town and eat everything we gave them. The pigs acted like it was a treat they would get so excited waiting for the top dress. In the show ring they had great endurance and just keep going all day long. We ended up with the Overall reserve champion and 5 out of the top 10 in the show. The one pig that was not in the championship drive stood 3rd in the class that the grand and reserve came from. We will be making True Glo a permanent addition to our feeding plans."

"Thanks so much for the product. We are excited to see how it works with more time. The wethers really changed in just 2 weeks."

"Our steer never missed a beat all summer. We really credit TrueGlo with helping us win. When we trimmed his hooves they came off like butter. He was just so healthy and could flat go all day long. His skin and hair were perfect. Thank you for all your help."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Everything Old is New Again

The last few months we have been dealing more and more with a couple “old” diseases. Erysipelas and atrophic rhinitis have both been problems for some of our show pig customers as well as some questions we have had from all over the country.

Let’s talk about erysipelas first.

Erysipelas is caused by a bacteria and it has been a problem as long as there have been pigs.  The disease can take a couple forms.

The most dramatic is the acute form. Pigs get very sick some will die suddenly and fever as high as 108 F is not uncommon.  Everyone  has heard about the “diamond skin lesion” and it is the acutely affected pig that will display this symptom. Blood clots blocking the small vessels that feed the skin cause the diamond skin lesion. However while dramatic it is not as common as you might have been led to believe. Most pigs do not display it or it may be much more subtle than the pictures you have seen.

Less dramatic but more damaging to the pigs in the long term is a more chronic form of the disease. You might not ever notice these pigs are sick but the organism settles in their joints or heart valves and causes long term disease. Erysipelas is still one of the most common causes of arthritis. By the time you see swollen hocks it is too late and there isn’t anything that is going to make the pig sound again.

The treatment for acute erysipelas is penicillin. Treat every pig in the barn with penicillin and follow up with a booster of a monovalent vaccine like Ery Shield or others.  It is amazing how well and how fast these pigs respond. I have seen one end of the barn visibly getting better before we finished injecting at the far end.
In terms of prevention I strongly recommend that show pig feeders use a monovalent (straight) erysipelas vaccine when pigs are around 8-10 weeks of age and again in 3 weeks. This will help prevent both the acute and chronic forms of the disease. Erysipelas is probably the cheapest vaccine there is so don’t skimp on 20 cents a pig and take the risk.

The other disease we have encountered more and more of late is Atrophic Rhinitis. Atrophis Rhinitis (AR) had become a rare disease because of  negative breeding stock, younger weaning age, and age segregated rearing. However, in some show pig herds we are seeing it rear its ugly head. Part of the reason is poor biosecurity, positive breeding stock, older ages at weaning, and mixing pig of different ages and sources.
Because of the decreased prevalence in commercial herds many of them have discontinued vaccination programs. Unfortunately that also means that the vaccine companies are decreasing production of these vaccines and we have seen shortages. It also means that some show pig breeders have also discontinued vaccinating despite not following any of the other control measures the commercial herds implemented before they discontinued vaccine.

AR is caused by toxigenic strains of Bordetella bronchiseptica and Pasteurella multocida. In the early stages clinical signs include sneezing, nasal discharge and even nose bleeds. Ultimately, the disease results in damage to the turbinate bones in the nasal cavity. In the worst cases, the bones in the nose deform so that they literally get crooked.

In addition, the disease results in poor growth rate and increased susceptibility to other respiratory disease.

If you are a show pig feeder there is not a lot you can do to treat or prevent the disease once you have purchased it. Using antibiotics is of questionable value and all you can do is segregate affected pigs from any healthy pigs you have. But the truth is by the time you see the signs the damage is probably done and it has spread to the others. The bad news is that if you have signs of AR you are not going to be able to get health certificates and transport pigs to shows.

If you are a show pig breeder and you know that you have positive breeding stock (I’d also suggest if you don’t know the prudent thing is to assume your herd is positive.) you will need to decide if you want to try and control this disease or depopulate and start over with negative breeding stock. I suspect most will choose control because of the value of the genetics. Because of the vaccine shortages you’ll need to pay attention and buy it when you can. In herds where this disease is present we vaccinate gilts prefarrowing with two doses and in some severe cases we even vaccinate older sows once prefarrowing. Then vaccinate pigs per the manufacturers recommendation. We also try and get these sow herds older since older sows shed less and have better immunity than gilts. You should also get the pigs weaned on time (3 weeks) rather than letting them stay in contact with sows longer.

We are always happy to visit about these or any other health concerns or our products to support a healthy immune system. Just visit our page at and drop us a line or give us a call.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Product TrueGuardian

In the next few days we will be launching a new product at True North. This is one we have been working on for a few years and we are very excited about the potential it has to improve our customers’ success.
True Guardian is a unique blend of ingredients that can be fed to all classes of livestock but our intent when we developed it was for animals in late pregnancy and through lactation, creep feed, and feed after weaning. It contains unique sources of protein and energy as well as ingredients that support a healthy robust immune system.  There are similarities between TrueGlo and TrueGuardian and there are real differences too.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is what is the effect of feeding TrueGlo to sows, ewes, cows or nannys? My answer was always the same I’d say that there is literature that would support doing it and we do at home. We think it does a lot of good but I don’t have any independent data to back it up.  
If you are going to develop a product to support the immune system in mamas of all species one of the key things you’d be interested in is colostrums and the effect such a product has on colostrum quality and quantity.  That is no small task and even more difficult to get adequate sample size based on the size of most of the herds we work with at True North.
We got a few people to start collecting data but even that didn’t give us a good control / treatment group that we could be confident in. Part of the problem was that when people started to actually measure colostrum and saw the difference they quit doing the trial and the controls started getting fed  the product.
As a result we are coming to market  without our normal independent research but we will share some of  the published research that led us to investigate this product. We think it is too important to make our customers wait any longer to start seeing the benefits.
Research and real life experience has proven that supplementing the dam’s diets with TrueGuardian helps support her immune system and her colostrum quantity and quality.  
In the trial represented by this chart total colostrum antibodies were  increased in the group that received a product like TrueGuardian.

In other trials feeding a product like TrueGuardian resulted in improved preweaning mortality and improved weaning weight.  The researchers theorized that the improved performance were due to the improvement in colostrums quality and quantity and a decrease in shedding for pathogens like E. coli.

The performance advantage continued after weaning. Pigs that were fed TrueGuardian after weaning 
What was a 1.7 pound advantage for pigs weaned from sows fed TrueGuardian becomes a 4.1 pound advantage 4 weeks later. Similar results have been documented in calves, lambs, and kids.

The next critical phase in a young animal’s life is weaning. Researchers postulated that the improved performance for TrueGuardian after weaning is because it supports the changes in the intestinal microflora as they transition from milk to solid feed.
We will get TrueGuardian on our website over the next few days. In the meantime it is $40 for a 10# bucket and includes directions for both a topdress and mixing in complete feeds. The 10# bucket provides enough product to topdress over 400 days of feed for a sow, ewe, or nanny and over 200 days for cattle.  If you would like some right away, give us a call  and we’ll get it on a UPS truck.