Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, July 18, 1998, Image 140

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    D4-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, July 18, 1998
Swine Embryo Transfer
Called ‘Next Frontier y
DEKALB, 111. Within 10 to
IS years, embryo transfer could
replace artificial insemination as
the primary means of accelerating
genetic development in progres
sive swine operations, said Dr.
David Fox, a geneticist and vice
president of research and develop
ment for Dekalb Swine Breeders,
‘Today, a sow has the capa
bility to produce 2.S litters a year,
but she actually produces enough
eggs to have many, many more,”
he said. “What we’re looking at is
the potential of taking ovaries
from superior females, extracting
the eggs, maturing them in a lab,
fertilizing them with semen from
top sire lines, and then implanting
them in recipient sows.
“The technique needs to be per
fected for on-farm use,” he said,
“but within the next decade or so,
I could see embryo transfer be
coming a commercially viable as
A.I. is today. It’s the next fron
In theory, nonsurgical embryo
transfer would allow producers to
significantly reduce genetic varia
tion, improve consistency and
change the way they manage their
breeding programs.
“It may be possible for a
2,500-sow operation to produce
all the embryos it needs with only
100 sows and three boars.” Fox
said. “The 2,500 sows would
serve as surrogates.
With embryo transfers, he ex
plains. the variation in progeny
would be minimized, and produc
ers could be more selective about
their genetics. “The surrogate fe
males would only need to be se
lected for maximizing reproduc
tive traits, while the donor females
would be selected with the opti
mum market pig in mind,” he said.
Embryo transfer in swine will
have to “walk before it runs.”
however. Any commercial appli
cations in the near future probably
would have to be done surgically.
“But even then, embryo transfer
offers obvious potential benefits,”
Fox said.
“Any time you’re moving stock
from one farm to another, there
are always concerns about the ani
mals’ health profiles and the risk
of introducing different disease
organisms,” he said. “Embryo
transfer could greatly reduce that
As an added benefit, embryo
transfer could help reduce trans
portation costs, while also giving
producers even broader genetic di
versity. “Producers could buy em
bryos that are well suited to their
specific needs or market,” he said.
Dekalb has the technology in
place to produce embryos for ex
port to other countires for surgical
implantation. “It’s not something
we’re promoting at the moment,
but we clearly have the capa
bility,” Fox said, “For now, our
focus is in vitro fertilization and
working with in vitro culture con
ditions needed to grow embryos to
a cell stage that can be implanted
Longer term, one of Dekalb’s
goals is to make embryo transfer a
dependable means of accelerating
genetic improvement for commer
cial hog operations. “I think the
Rica's health k/cjc
day will come when instead of
having an A.l. lab, we’ll have an
on-farm embryo lab and we’ll im
plant them nonsurgically. We’d
simply transfer embryos into the
sow instead of inseminating se
The development of embryo
technology will be facilitated by
Dekalb’s new Discovery Research
Center. According to Fox, it hous
es one of the only commercial bio
technology laboratories in the
world specific to swine.
Dekalb’s commitment to bio
technology and R&D has already
spawned numerous benefits for
the U.S. pork industry. For ex
ample: for more than 20 years,
Dekalb has been screening its
breeding stock for positive car
riers of the halothane gene. In
1992, technology involving DNA
screening enabled the company to
identify not only animals that
were positive, but those that were
carriers or negative for the gene.
“We made the decision to elim
inate the halothane gene from our
breeding herd,” Fox said. “We felt
this was an important not only for
Dekalb, but for the entire U.S.
pork industry.”
He explains that the halothane
gene lowers pH and water reten
tion, which in turn produces more
PSE (pale, soft, exudative) pork.
In addition, the halothane gene
causes more stress in pigs, which
results in higher death loss from
birth to market ‘The halothane
gene has no place in U.S. pork
production,” he said.
But Dekalb didn’t stop there. In
1997, Dekalb suspected that
Hampshire-derived breeding
stock had a higher incidence of the
Rn (Napole) gene, which often re
sults in pale, watery meat This
was reinforced by Dekalb’s own
internal assessment, which
showed its Hampshire line to have
unacceptable meat quality.
“A DNA test for this gene has
not yet been developed, so pro
ducers must rely on careful gene
tic selection,” the geneticist said.
“We felt it was important to elim
inate all Hampshire-derived
breeding stock from our breeding
Dekalb’s use of PCR tech
nology is also benefiting the pork
industry. PCR, which stands for
polymerase chain reaction, is a
highly sensitive and extremely ac
curate tool that biotechnologists
use to amplify DNA by several
million times and then search for
the presence or absence of certain
Marker-assisted selection is an
other key element of Dekalb’s
biotechnology program. Identifi
cation markers that are associated
with economically important traits
can dramatically speed genetic
progress. Fox said.
Biotechnology is hardly a new
area for Dekalb Swine Breeders.
Inspired by breakthroughs its sis
ter company was making in seed
corn and other plant genetics, the
swine group established its first
biotechnology laboratory in 1990.
“At Dekalb, I guess you could
say that biotechnology is in our
genes.” Fox said. “We’re very
proud of the contributions we’ve
made to the pork industry, but I
feel our best work is yet to come.”
Prediction May Help Communities
BOSTON, Mass. The ability
to predict drought one to several
seasons in advance may save wa
ter resource planners and fanners
billions of dollars, according to a
team of Penn State researchers.
These researchers developed a
computer model that can predict
reliably the severity and timing of
drought episodes six months in the
“Farmers would find it useful to
have drought predictions in the
spring for three or six months la
ter,” said Kelly Brennan, recent
recipient of a Penn State master’s
degree in civil engineering.
“Farmers could then change the
crop they plant for something that
is more late-summer drought
One suggestion would be to
plant crops with deeper root sys
“Another important area, espe
cially in the Ohio River Basin
where we worked, is the need to
maintain adequate river levels for
barge traffic,” Brennan told at-
Beekeepers Swarm To Pa.
For Regional Conference
Co.) Beekeepers from 22
American states and Canadian
provinces will attend the 1998
Eastern Apicultural Society
(EAS) of North America Conven
tion and Short Course at Seven
Springs Resort in Champion July
‘Typically about 500 commer
cial and hobby beekeepers attend
the event to get the latest informa
tion on beekeeping techniques,
management practices, and re
search,” said Jennifer Finley, EAS
president and entomology re
search technician in Penn State’s
College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Some of the top bee scientists
and experts from across the
United States and Canada will
present workshops.”
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. on
July 13 with registration. The
short course begins at 9 a.m., with
two levels of instruction. Level I is
designed for entry-level beekeep
ers with five or fewer colonies or
years of experience. Level n, ti
Liquid Dispensing Unit
MADISON, Wis. Bou-Mat
ic, a company of DEC Internation
al, Inc., has introduced Dari-
Chem, a programmable liquid
chemical dispensing unit designed
to convert manual chemical fill
pipeline and milk cooler washers
to automatic chemical dispensing
The Dari-Chem programmable
liquid chemical dispensing unit
automatically dispenses the prop
er amount of liquid chemical or
concentrates at the precise time in
the cleaning cycle, without the
need to manually refill chemical
jars. “The basic purpose of this
product is to convert manual
chemical fill, either powder or liq
uid, washers to automatic liquid
dispensing washers,” according to
Bou-Matic Product Manager,
John Brzezinski. By using the
Dari-Chem programmable liquid
chemical dispensing unit, dairy
producers can reduce handling
chemicals by hand, make sure the
Short-Term Drought
tendees at the spring meeting of
the American Geophysical Union
recently in Boston.
The normal practice is to lower
reservoirs in winter and early
spring to create enough storage
capacity to retain excessive spring
runoff that would otherwise cause
flooding downstream. This prac
tice can have very harmful conse
quences in years of drought espe
cially during the summer.
“A grounded barge can cost as
much as $lO,OOO a day,” said
Brennan. “Low water levels may
also affect water purity and supply
and recreation.”
Working with Dr. Ana Banos,
assistant professor of civil engi
neering, Brennan developed a
model that can predict extreme
drought episodes three, six, and
nine months in advance.
“The model uses a measure of
the temporal evolution of the spa
tial variability of precipitation
over a period of time in die past,”
said Brennan.
The researchers combine this
tied “Making Money with Your
Bees,” is aimed at more experi
enced intermediate beekeepers.
The short course concludes at
noon on July IS.
The cortfcrencc begins at 1:30
p.m. on July IS and concludes
with a banquet on the evening of
July 17. Workshops will focus on
apitherapy (medicinal use of bee
venom and related products), crop
pollination by bees, bee products,
and control of diseases, and para
sitic mites. An open apiary session
on the afternoon of July 16 will
give participants a chance to visit
the conference beeyard for hands
on instruction presented by Master
Among the speakers for the
conference and short course are
Finley; Maryann Frazier, Penn
State extension entomologist;
Scott Camazine, Penn State asso
ciate professor of entomology;
Steve Taber, queen breeder and
bee geneticist from California;
Theo Cherbuliez, recent president
of the American Apitherapy So
proper concentration of chemicals
is used every time at the right
time, and save money by cleaning
“With easy installation and pro
gramming, the Dari-Chem is a
must for all dairy operators who
demand simplicity, dependability
and efficiency from their CJP.
, systems.” Brzezinski said. The
Dari-Chem can be used with all
Deco-Matic cooler wash controls,
as well as with Guardian I and
PW-100 pipeline washers. Brz
ezinski said, “Three microproces
sor controlled peristaltic pumps
can be set to provide custom, de
pendable and economic wash cy
cles for dairy C.IP. applications.
And a manual override feature al
lows manual dispensing.”
The Dari-Chem is microproces-
sor controlled for accuracy, versa
tility, and dependability. Replace
able PROM software for future
product enhancements is included
in the Dari-Chem. as well as an
measure with the accepted mea
sure of current drought, the Palm
er Drought Severity Index. The
PDST uses soil moisture,
temperature and precipitation
along with specific parameters fa
the region to detect if there is a
current drought. The PDSI is used
to issue drought emergencies and
to rescind them as well.
The model was tested and vali
dated on historic data through
“We can predict drought three
to six months in advance {Hetty
well,” said Brennan. “At the nine
month scale we can capture the
timing of extreme droughts, but
the severity of the drought is not
as accurate.”
The researchers would like to
see their model running on current
data so that it could be used as a
real-time forecast model.
Lisa Mead, a biology under
graduate and a participant in the
Women in Science and Engineer
ing Internship program, also parti
cipated in this research.
ciety; David Hackenburg. Penn
sylvania’s largest commercial
beekeeper and president of the
American Beekeeping Federation;
and several USDA-ARS research
scientists, including Hachiro Shi
manuki and Robert Danka. Friday
night’s banquet speaker will be
John Root, head of the A.I. Root
Company, the first and oldest bee
supply company in the United
States. The event also will feature
commercial exhibitors as well as
the EAS Annual Honey and Hon
ey Products Show.
The EAS was established in
1959 to promote honey bee cul
ture, the education of beekeepers,
and excellence in bee research. It
is the largest noncommercial bee
keeping organization in the United
States and one of the largest in the
For more information on the
short course and conference, con
tact Jennifer Finley at (814)
865-1731 or Kathy Summers at
(330) 725-6677. ext 3215.
LED display indicating individual
pump parameters. The Dari-Chent
dispensing unit must be used in
conjunction with either a cooler cr
pipeline wash control, according
to Btzezinski.