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Pork producers hear about UGA animal science, VFD


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
3/8/2017 10:58:17 AM


Pork producers from around the state heard presentations from UGA experts and the Georgia Department of Agriculture on key research and regulatory issues affecting swine production during the 2017 Georgia Pork Congress on Feb. 21.

UGA Animal and Dairy Science Department Head Dr. Keith Bertrand reviewed trends in department enrollment and research faculty. Bertrand noted that undergraduate enrollment has grown from about 160 in 1996 to more than 300 currently, while the graduate programs have grown from 40 students in 1996 to 51 in 2017, including 27 PhD students. The department has been able to restore some faculty positions that were trimmed as cost-cutting measures between 2009 and 2012. 

Bertrand, who said he is retiring, also reviewed some of the department's accomplishments in his nine years as department head. The ADS department budget is $11.4 million, he said, about half of which comes from state funds and more than 30 percent of which comes from other sources, chiefly grants obtained by research faculty. In 2015, he said, grant funding averaged $390,000 per faculty member. Undergraduate research projects have grown from 37 in 2002 to 228 in 2015, and Bertrand said hundreds of papers from the students' work has been published in refereed journal articles.

Dr. David Reeves, professor emeritus with the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed changes in rules for antimicrobial use under the FDA's Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which went into effect on Jan. 1.

"Things have really changed, and changed a lot, since Jan. 1," Reeves said. The VFD, under guidance documents 209 and 213, removed all growth promotion and nutritional efficiency labels from medically important antimicrobial drugs, and all veterinary feed manufacturers agreed to comply. In addition, veterinarians cannot write prescriptions that deviate from uses listed on the labels.

Reeves said producers need to strictly follow medication labels.

"The label stands. You cannot deviate from it," Reeves said.

He encouraged hog farmers to keep detailed records of any deliveries of medicated feed they receive, including date of delivery and which bin it was placed in on their farm.

Reeves said farmers can access information about feed uses and requirements from the label, from the Feed Additive Compendium ( and from the FDA's Approved Animal Drug Products
Green Book, available online at

UGA Animal Waste Management Specialist Melony Wilson presented information about composting carcasses of deceased livestock to create rich organic material for soil amendments. Wilson said that high temperatures in the compost piles destroy most pathogens and reduce animal carcasses to bone fragments.

Wilson emphasized compost sites have to be located in areas that do not pose threats of ground water contamination. In addition, she said 18 to 24 inches of carbon material like wood chips or sawdust are needed above, below and on all sides of the carcass to prevent ground water contamination and help control odor. Outdoor sites must be approved by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. To view state rules on carcass disposal visit

UGA's Dr. Mike Azain from the Animal and Dairy Science Department, discussed research projects centered on swine nutrition, genetics and meat science. Other presentations included lagoon maintenance by UGA Poultry Science Professor Dr. John Worley and Compliance and Inspections by Courtney Wilson of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.


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