Cargill and Carthage Veterinary Services Announce New Sow Research Partnership

Cargill and Carthage Veterinary Services have entered into a multi-year agreement focused on expanding commercial sow nutrition and health research. The agreement brings together Cargill’s expertise in nutrients and animal nutrition with Carthage’s experience in animal care, research, and operational expertise. The goals of this partnership include optimizing sow performance and health, delivering more and healthier pigs into the pork supply chain, and supporting producer success/profitability.

Cargill and Carthage have made this investment to fill a knowledge gap within the swine industry around delivering the best nutrition and conditions for females to optimize performance from gilts through a long, productive life in the herd.

“Sow research at this scale is extremely limited in the industry,” says Brent Frederick, PhD, swine innovation lead, in Cargill’s animal nutrition business. “It’s expensive, time-consuming work, and given the economics of pork production today, the near-term ROI just isn’t there for producers to invest on their own.”

The agreement includes four to five research studies per year. Individual trials will look at diet formulation, innovative solutions through micronutrition, use of technology and operational interventions. Data points will include extensive measurement of gestation and lactation feed intake of individual sows, litter weights, individual pig weights, pre-wean mortality and other parameters relevant to the trial objectives. The companies have committed to sharing key insights from these trials with the broader swine industry.
“Pork has an important role in feeding the world. This is an investment in the health and productivity of our industry, ” says Frederick.

Beau Peterson, general manager for Carthage Veterinary Services, adds, “large scale, commercial research is an important  step in evaluating new technologies and management strategies for swine production. We’re executing scientifically sound trials ranging from 200 to 400 sows per treatment, with commercially-relevant genetics, in a commercial environment, allowing us to produce results that can drive decision making immediately in commercial production systems.”

Trials will be conducted at Carthage’s facilities in Illinois. In addition to their existing sow research facility, Carthage is investing in a new barn expected to open in November. Both facilities include lactation rooms with up to 56 crates, and multiple feed lines for all phases capable of delivering distinct or blended test diets.

“Having a committed partner like Cargill allows us to invest quickly and confidently in this additional sow research infrastructure,” says Peterson. “Commercial sow research facilities with dedicated research personnel and equipment are fairly rare in the industry, and we are very excited to be adding to our capabilities through this partnership to create even more opportunities to deliver innovation that will help drive the industry forward.”

The joint agreement will expand Carthage’s sow research staff from 12 to 18 individuals including scientists and in barn research professionals. Those interested in available positions can learn more at

The first research trial of this agreement is set to begin in September 2021.