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Coble focuses on improving the swine industry

Kyle Coble personifies everything that is innovative and exciting about the hog industry. Recently named one of the National Pork Board's Young Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, Coble has been one of the faces of the #RealPigFarming social media movement ...

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Part of Kyle Coble's focus is the formulation of nursery rations for New Fashion Pork though his influence on the industry reaches beyond the barn doors. (Submitted photo)

Kyle Coble personifies everything that is innovative and exciting about the hog industry. Recently named one of the National Pork Board's Young Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, Coble has been one of the faces of the #RealPigFarming social media movement and the industry has found an able, enthusiastic future in him.

Originally from southeast Kansas, Coble grew up on a small operation and was introduced to agriculture by his grandfather, who was the local veterinarian and the owner of a feedlot. Competing in local, state, and regional market hog shows as well as competing in livestock judging cemented Coble's interest in the hog industry. This interest led him to Oklahoma State University where he earned an undergraduate degree in animal science and a master's in animal science with an interest in swine nutrition.

While at OSU, Coble lived at the Swine Center and worked for Kim Brock, a man he credits as an influential mentor. As a graduate student, Coble oversaw all of the graduate research at the university related to hogs.

It was at that point Coble felt that even with a master's, he wasn't yet relevant to the industry.

"I hadn't had a lot of large-scale commercial experience," he says. "While Oklahoma State was a 150-sow herd, bigger than our 15 or 20 at home, I still didn't feel like I really had enough skills to really make anybody any money. That's one of the things they don't really teach you - is how to make money."

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During nutrition meetings, Coble often noted that Kansas State University was revered and had a large presence at industry meetings.

This was by design, as years previous, Kansas State had decided to be the leading expert in swine nutrition. Coble left Oklahoma for Manhattan, Kan., and graduated from Kansas State in 2015 with a job that New Fashion Pork had offered to him early in his doctorate program.

"K State taught me much of what I needed to be successful in my current job," Coble says. "I needed to understand large scale production, to understand how to make nutrition applicable, and how to turn it into something."

Coble formulates rations to lower costs and maximize performance and uses research projects in the field to help producers make money. Coble manages all research data for New Fashion Pork, a continuation of his partnership with the company during his time at Kansas State.

Finding areas in which producers can be profitable remains a foundation for Coble. Evaluating the foundation of ingredients and understanding the nutritional requirements of hogs is a challenge, especially with changing genetics and availability of feed ingredients,

"Distillers had been in the marketplace for a long time," Coble says. "We've done more research on distillers than we have corn. A lot of times, it's bringing it back to the basics."

Maintaining the applicability and relevance of nutrition can be likened to a favorite piece of wisdom from one of Coble's mentors - the answers change but the questions stay the same. To help producers be profitable and to offer the best possible answers to questions, Coble is currently concentrating on the relationship between nutrition and management.

"You can have the best nutrition in the world," he says. "If you don't have the best management in the barn - either ventilation, feeder managements, stocker density, marketing intervals, etc., - that can cost you $1 to $1.50 per head delta in expected feed cost savings if you don't manage that correctly."

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He and other nutritionists like him are solving issues as they come down the proverbial pike and allowing companies like New Fashion to continue to expand when others cannot. As the hog industry moves forward, Coble admits its future is difficult to predict.

"With the packing capacity and understanding how much pork the export market and U.S. consumer can sustain, it's going to be a huge driver of where we go from here," he says. "The export market is hugely important to us and there are certain markets that are emerging and other markets we need to work to continue to sustain."

New Fashion continues to grow with experts like Coble, operating in seven states. For him, relevance to the industry is where he finds himself today, much of the credit being given to Kansas State University.

"They say when you come out of college, you're never prepared for the real world," he says. "I would say I was probably as prepared as anybody could have possibly been."

Coble attributes this to two things: The Kansas State professors' level of industry involvement is second to none, and they are so relevant that the industry brings questions to them knowing the quality and integrity that the answers will envelope.

"K State's focus is the producer," says Coble. "Feed and nutrition is the vehicle, but the consumer is the No. 1 priority."

It's the challenge of researching, implementing and communicating to producers that keeps Coble learning and teaching about hog production and makes him valuable to New Fashion Pork as well as the industry as a whole.

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