Latest articles


Hunt for deadly porcine virus thwarted at every turn

Officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to find out how porcine epidemic diarrhea arrived here

The porcine epidemic diarrhea continues to spread while officials conduct a relentless, but exasperating, search for how the deadly virus is breaching biosecurity defences. Just two days before the fourth case was confirmed on March 15, officials outlined their exhaustive detective work to track down how the virus came to Alberta and how it is […] Read more


The mystery deepens as third case of PED found in Alberta

It’s not known how the devastating virus arrived or how it showed up in one isolated room on a second farm

Alberta hog producers are no closer to answers about how a devastating virus found its way into the province after a third case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) was confirmed at the start of March. “There are several possibilities about how it’s spreading that involve transportation, and we’re still looking into that at this […] Read more



The situation is better, but Alberta’s pork sector not out of the woods yet

After a dreadful summer, prices are better but producers still losing money, says analyst

Hog markets have improved since early fall, but the situation is far from great. “In terms of the current prices, there’s nothing spectacular,” said Ron Gietz, an extension specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Still, that’s an improvement on the spectacularly bad period last summer when hog prices plunged by more than 40 per cent […] Read more


African swine fever would be a disaster

There is a ‘clear risk’ the swiftly spreading disease could come here, says leading swine health vet

There is a real risk that the African swine fever virus could enter Canada — and if it did, it would be catastrophic, says one of the country’s leading swine health experts. “If Canada got a single case in our country, our borders would close to all nations,” said Dr. Egan Brockhoff, a partner in […] Read more



‘Smart barn’ technology is on its way for pork producers

Sensors and software monitor pigs — and workers — in real time and in new ways

There is no argument new smart technologies are coming in swine production, says an expert in monitoring and task automation in livestock facilities. Tom Stein, senior strategic adviser for Quebec-based Maximus Systems, gave nine examples of “smart barn” technologies already in use or on the way at the recent Banff Pork Seminar. “One must remember, these […] Read more


Officials continue all-out effort to prevent spread of PED

Authorities say it’s ‘good news’ that the devastating disease hasn’t spread, but don’t know how it got here

Contain and pray it doesn’t spread. That sums up the approach officials are taking following the arrival of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in the province. So far, tests for the PED virus at other farms, assembly yards, abattoirs, and truck washes have come back negative. However, officials also don’t know how the virus made its […] Read more



pigs in the farm

Building immunity to combat PED

There is no vaccine for the deadly virus, so controlled exposure is used to create immunity

Deliberately exposing a sow herd to the virus that causes porcine epidemic diarrhea may seem counterintuitive, but it’s the best option when a facility is infected. “The game plan is that you need to expose the sow population as quickly as possible, whenever the outbreak has occurred in the barn,” said Frank Marshall, owner of […] Read more


PED reaches Alberta — first case of deadly virus confirmed in province

Hog producers warned by pork officials it’s ‘especially critical’ to step up their biosecurity efforts

After years of successfully keeping the deadly PED virus at bay, porcine epidemic diarrhea has been found in Alberta. “The disease was found on Thursday (Jan. 3),” said Javier Bahamon, quality assurance and production manager for Alberta Pork. “It was reported by a private veterinarian to chief provincial offices at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Since […] Read more



Loose housing is a winning approach, says Canadian pork giant

Open sow housing is better for pigs, people, and profits, says Maple Leaf Foods executive

Many questioned whether it would work, but Maple Leaf Foods says open housing is a superior way to raise sows — and will have that system in all of its barns years before it becomes mandatory. “This is part of our vision to be the most sustainable protein company on Earth — part of that […] Read more


Pork producers need to be on guard for African swine fever

The disease is ravaging herds in China and Europe, and could come here through infected feed ingredients

African swine fever hasn’t been found in North America, but pork producers still have reason to be concerned. “If we get it, we cannot control the spread and the whole population will be destroyed by it,” said Javier Bahamon, quality assurance and production manager with Alberta Pork. “Pretty much the whole population of animals needs […] Read more