Swine Teaching & Research Center
Location4813 Power Line Dr. (main swine farm)
4632 Forest Road (old swine farm)
Lansing, MI 48910
The Swine Teaching and Research Center is comprised of three sites: the Main Farm, the Intensive Research Unit and the North Farm, often called the old farm. The Main Farm is located on the southern edge of campus, and is where the largest number of pigs is produced. The Intensive Research Unit is at the Biosystems and Environmental Research and Education Center on College Road, just across from the Dairy Farm and is for intensive studies. The North Farm or “Old Farm” is located at the south end of Farm Lane and Forest Road, and has minimal use.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center is a limited access farm. Persons interested in touring must stay away from pigs at other farms for a minimum of 48 hours and must not have visited a foreign country in the 7 days prior to visiting the farm. Persons wanting to tour the main farm will have to shower in the farm’s facilities and wear farm provided clothing. Persons interested in visiting other sites will have to wear farm provided clothing (coveralls, boots, etc). Persons wishing to visit the Swine Teaching and Research Center must first contact Kevin Turner (517-355-7485) to determine possible dates and times.
About the Center
The swine farm’s primary mission is to work with faculty and staff as they complete their research, teaching and extension/outreach programs. Animals produced are used for research in nutrition, behavior, genetics, environmental management, meat science and muscle biology, and production management. Animals are also used for class projects and experiences for all MSU students, as well as many 4-H, FFA, and other youth and adult activities.
The Main Farm was completed in 1997. This is a shower-in and shower-out facility. The manager’s office, a break area for employees, locker/shower rooms, a conference room and a machine room comprise the administrative portion of this farm. The animal facility consists of one continuous structure and includes boar and sow housing, a breeding area, 4 farrowing, 4 nursery and 4 finishing rooms. This facility houses about 200 sows, and will finish about 50% of their production or 2,000 pigs per year.
Early weaning litters from the North Farm established the herd at the Main Farm. Pigs were weaned at 7 to 10 days of age and moved to the nursery at the Main Farm. After the Main Farm was initially stocked, the facility was closed and no other pigs have been brought into the facility. No pigs from outside sources will be brought into maintain the breeding herd. Only semen from approved health status boar studs will be used to maintain the breeding program.
The breeding program at the Main Farm is a grand-parent terminal program. Yorkshire females are primarily bred to Landrace semen to produce F1 litters. The bulk of the sow herd originates from these crossbred litters. Both breeds are white in color, and used for their maternal traits of litter size and milk production. The F1 females are mated through the use of artificial insemination to terminal boars that best suit the needs of the project taking place at the time. Boars that are kept at the Main Farm are produced at the farm and are used mostly for estrous detection while a few purebred boars are used to mate purebred Yorkshire females.
At the Main Farm, most of the manure is handled in a unique solid separation system. A scraper system is used to collect the solids, which are then composted. Liquid material is channeled to an above ground, glass lined tank. This process eliminates much of the odor normally associated with swine production, and provides more control of possible environmental contaminants. Once treated and stored properly, the waste is spread upon MSU cropland, or exported to area farms, and applied at proper levels and intervals to meet the guidelines set by the Michigan Department of Agriculture for environmental safeguards.
The Intensive Research Unit consists of 2 rooms that can be climate controlled. Each room will hold about 6 sows, or 50 small pigs at any one time. Intensive nutrition and behavior studies have primarily been conducted at the location.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center works extensively with faculty and staff as they complete their research, teaching and extension / outreach programs. The swine farm also participates in regional and national swine events. Traditionally MSU has competed in the Truckload competition held at the National Barrow Show in Austin, MN. MSU students provide the care for these animals as well as exhibit them at this event.
Animal Inventory and Production
Pigs at all locations are primarily fed a corn-soybean meal diet, fortified to meet or exceed the National Research Council’s recommendations for each phase of production. Antibiotics and other additives are only used in diets for younger pigs or for therapeutic needs upon recommendation of MSU veterinarians, and are in accordance with USDA accepted allowances. Routine use of feed grade antibiotics in growing-finishing and sow rations is avoided. Market animals are on self-feeders to allow ad-libitum feeding. Most of the rations are prepared at the MSU Feed Mill and delivered to the various sites within the Swine Farm and Teaching Center.
In full production, the Main Farm will farrow 36 litters once per month and litters will be weaned at approximately 21 days of age. Computerized records indicate that conception rates are about 75%, that litters average 10.5 pigs born, 9 raised, that weigh 130 pounds at 21 days. These pigs reach a market weight of 270 pounds at 5.5 months of age and consistently grade 54-56% lean.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center employs a full time farm manager, Kevin Turner. Mr. Kevin Turner is a native of Prescott, Michigan and graduated from MSU in 2004. Before becoming Manager, Kevin was the Assistant Farm Manager and prior to that he was employed with Iowa Select Farms and managed a 5,200 sow farm. Kevin in in charge of various day to day operations at the farm.
The Swine Teaching and Research Center employs 4-6 students each semester who complete much of the day-to-day animal care. Students interested in working at the swine farm are encouraged to contact Kevin Turner.