Argentina pork production

I’m writing this blog from a motel room in Mendoza, Argentina. I am presenting 2 talks at a conference for veterinarians and producers. Mendoza is famous for its wine production and while Minnesota is sweltering, the highs here are around 60 with lows around 35.

On Sunday evening, the Minister of Agriculture for Argentina spoke at the opening session. He detailed the government’s goal of increasing pork production in Argentina in the next 10 years.

Currently Argentina is a net importer of pork. Beef is the preferred animal protein in the diet, but the cost of beef is so high many have turned to pork as an alternative. The government’s goal is to be self sufficient as a country in pork production as per capita consumption increases to a target of 30 lb/person. While this is only 50% of the US consumption, this is a major increase for Argentina.

The government is also looking for value-added production to complement corn and soybeans. We all recognize Argentina as our major competitor in the corn export market, and it is a growing competitor in the soybean market. The minister’s question – how can we increase employment in the country using these feedstuffs versus shipping the raw commodity somewhere else for the value addition to occur.

Currently, pork production is a mix of outdoor and indoor (extensive and intensive). My sense of the industry after 2 days talking with a large number of producers and advisors is they are where the US industry was in the mid 1970’s in terms of many of their confinement conversions from outside lots.

The Minister of Agriculture showed some of the details of low-interest loans for young producers to invest in intensive production facilities. He also talked about other ways the government was going to support pork production. I don’t have a sense of whether the consumers in Argentina are expressing opinions about animal welfare or odor issues.

I listened to one producer today who gave his story of converting from 250 sows pasture farrowing to 300 sows in crates, along with investments in confinement finishing. His whole herd feed conversion dropped from 4.2 to 3.14 while the tonnage sold per inventoried female more than doubled.

He also showed how he is utilizing the manure on his corn and soybeans. Just like Iowa and Minnesota farmers, his crop responded very well to the manure and he was thinking of expanding pork production, in part to have access to more manure.

There are some large production systems here. Their vision of the intensive production system of the future is fully slatted barns with either curtain sided barns or tunnel ventilation. So far, talk of wean-finish is very limited, with many producers still moving pigs from nurseries to growers to finishers.

The equipment being exhibited at the show is not much different from that shown at World Pork Expo or Iowa/Minnesota Pork Congress. They even have a 52” fan rated at 27,000 cfm at .12 static pressure. However, the fan was all galvanized so I don’t know if they have enough confinement experience yet to understand how to build/install durable equipment.

All of the vaccines we’re familiar with are on display as are such products as Excede and Draxxin. So far, I don’t know how much they are using water delivery for vaccines as I’ve only seen one water medicator (Dosetron) on display.

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