As we approach the July 4 weekend and holiday, many are glad to have a forecast of seasonably warm with limited moisture. For southern Minnesota, seasonably warm means temperatures in the low 80’s during the day and upper 60’s at night. In the Mankato area, we are still looking for moisture (unlike our producer friends in the eastern cornbelt) as we remain below average for precipitation since April 1.
With the return of cooler weather following last weeks hot and humid blast, pig performance has shot up once again. We sold several loads from a research site yesterday and the weights surprised us, just as many of you are being surprised this week by your weights.
For the week ending June 27, barrow and gilt weights in the Iowa and Southern Minnesota market reporting area averaged 265.1 pounds. This was a 3.6 pound drop from the previous week, the biggest decline in weights for a one week period since prior to 2004 when I began tracking this number. However, at 265 pounds, the sale weight is still the highest ever for the last full week of June.
I’m going to guess that weights will go up at least 2 pounds this week due to the return of more seasonable weather. For southern Minnesota, we had several days with high temperatures below 80 F, meaning growing conditions in our facilities was again close to ideal in terms of temperature.
When you add in the $0.30-$0.40/bu drop in corn price in reaction to the USDA crop report on Tuesday, I think producers will return to feeding pigs to heavy weights, even though they are often loosing $20-30 per pig at current market prices.
At many meetings, producers have talked about the need for the industry to sell at lighter weights in order to reduce the available pork supply. While this sounds like a good idea, keep in mind that many producers sell into a packer payment grid that severely discounts underweight pigs, and packers have been moving the desired weights up on their grids in the past few years as they try and get more pounds of product out the door from the same labor force.
Given that we deliver pigs to slaughter houses in trucks that hold 160-190 pigs (depending on the size of trailer, size of pigs, etc) and delivery costs for many equate to 2-5 pigs per load ($250-600 per load in transport charges), everyone strives for full loads of pigs. To avoid issues with discounts on light pigs (which may be more severe than discounts on heavy pigs), many producers feel they have few options to reduce the delivered weight of their pigs, even though losses continue for every pig delivered.