Animal Health

Health Challenges in Midwestern “Niche” Pork Production Systems

  • Lori Layman (Iowa State University)
  • Mike Yaeger (Iowa State University)
  • Locke Karriker (Iowa State University)


Organic pork production is increasing in popularity in the Midwest. Little information is available to identify specific disease pressures associated with this unique method of pork production. This project was initiated to identify health challenges within these production systems to enable veterinarians to implement management plans specifically designed to combat the individual farms’ pathogens while staying within the guidelines of the Niche production company.

This project was initiated in late 2005 and outlined two specific goals at inception. The first was to analyze Niche pork production and financial records. The second goal of the project was to identify herd health challenges through targeted diagnostic analysis.

26 producers representing 5 Midwestern states submitted samples for standardized diagnostic analysis to Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL). Internal parasites were present in all age groups. Ileitis (Lawsonia intracellurlaris) lesions were present in pigs as young as seven weeks old. Swine Influenza virus (SIV) levels ranged from 50-80% in the project’s submissions.

Vaccination and wormer use in these herds is variable and the use of these products is not prohibited by most Niche marketing companies. Knowledge of what pathogens are present in Niche herds will better prepare veterinarians to control these problems.

Keywords: ASL R2254

How to Cite:

Layman, L., Yaeger, M. & Karriker, L., (2008) “Health Challenges in Midwestern “Niche” Pork Production Systems”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 5(1). doi:

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Published on
01 Jan 2008
Peer Reviewed