K-State opens new swine facility with new flooring, increased ventilation, state-of-the-art birthing areas
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State University opened a new swine facility in late May. This complex gives students experience with facilities that closely represent what they will see in their future workplace.
The university’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry opened its newly built swine farrowing unit at the K-State Swine Teaching and Research Center in Manhattan on May 27. The complex replaces a 1968 building.
Over the course of the year, said Joel DeRouchey, Ph.D., a swine nutritionist with K-State Research and Extension, we produce around 4,000 pigs.
The facility is home to swine production classes, which feature hands-on learning. Graduate and undergraduate students, as well as veterinary students, learn about nutrition and animal behavior.
All the swine are kept indoors at this facility, but according to DeRouchey, as long as the animals are cared for, it doesn't matter whether they live indoors or out. Up until 2007, K-State's pigs lived outdoors.
"The reason we do that (keep them indoors) here is we feel we can provide better conditions for the pigs indoors," he said. "This allows us to do more focused research and teaching."
What types of pigs is Kansas State breeding?
The school focuses on breeding female Yorkshire and Landrance mixes, both breeds are known for mothering and breeding. They breed these gilts and sows with male Durocs, who are red and have a good meat quality and carcass, DeRouchey said.
According to The National Swine Registry, the Durocs, who have drooping ears, are the second most popular breed of pig in the U.S. These animals make good sires because of their muscle quality and quick growth.
Both the Landrance and the Yorkshire are white in color. The Landrance, which came from Denmark, have floppy ears, while the Yorkshire, who come from England, have erect ears. According to NHR, the Yorkshire is the most popular breed in the U.S. and Canada.
These breeds are now housed in a state-of-the-art facility, which utilizes industry-standard farrowing crate styles, specific flooring and increased ventilation.
K-State, which has one of the largest swine nutrition programs in the world, helps inform producers both locally and internationally. They train students to take their knowledge back to their farm, whether it is in Kansas or Guatemala, or conduct research or develop feed.
Madie Wensley, a K-State doctoral student in swine nutrition, will utilize the new farrowing unit to conduct applied research.
“This is what students will see when they go into the industry,” DeRouchey said. “Producers always want information generated in a facility that is close to what they have in their own operations.”