Swine Welfare Assurance Program Certification

Larry K. McMullen, Swine Field Specialist, Southeast

Problem Statement: 

As a pork producer, your livelihood depends on the welfare and performance of your livestock.  If an animal is mistreated or under stress, it will need to eat more feed to grow, will be more susceptible to disease and will generally not thrive.  To do anything short of providing the best humane care possible to help your animals realize their full productive potential is self-defeating. This statement is made in the 2003 edition of the National Pork Board (NPB) Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP) manual. With the increasing demand for animal welfare, swine producers are encouraged to participate and become SWAP certified.  Welfare certification is a requirement for selling hogs to the Triumph Packing Plant in St. Joseph, Missouri and it is highly encouraged by other harvesting plants as well.  As a result of this need and/or to be pro-active in the swine industry several producers are requesting SWAP certification by certified SWAP assessors. 

Programmatic Response: 

To be a certified National Pork Board SWAP assessor one must attend a training session and pass a certification test.  All ISU Extension swine field specialists completed this requirement and were available for on-farm assessments.  The fee structure was set at $75.00 per hour plus mileage and expenses.  Brochures were made and distributed by the Iowa Pork Industry Center giving SWAP assessment information as well as names and locations of certified staff from the pork center that were available for doing assessments.  The National Pork Board also maintains a web site listing of all certified SWAP assessors.  A typical SWAP assessment will take approximately 3 5 hours to complete.  This includes the pre-farm, on-farm, and post-farm gathering of information and completion of all reports.  A SWAP certification for the producer is for three years.

Impact/Outcome: 

Between October 2005 and June 2006, forty seven (47) on farm SWAP assessments were personally completed for swine producers.  The majority of the assessments were made on contract finishing production sites for a swine integrator selling to Triumph packing in St. Joseph, Missouri.  However, two assessments were conducted on independent farrow-finish farms (approximately 400 sow units) also selling directly to Triumph.  Four (4) assessments were made to independent swine producers wanting to be pro-active in the swine industry.  Due to the SWAP assessments these producers were meeting the harvesting requirements as well as implementing animal welfare standards on their farms.

October 2006

108 Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: October 19, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu