Topics of interest at meetings this winter

It’s Sunday morning as I write this weeks blog from a hotel room in Denver, CO. I at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting. Next week is the Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Scientists meeting in Des Moines. Between the 2 meetings I’ll have good chance to not only visit with a major cross section of people who work in the swine industry but also to have a look at new products and research results. I’ll also end up eating too much, something all of us tend to do at these meetings.

The big topics of discussion at both meetings will be PRRS breaks, corn prices and new barn construction, both wean-finish and new sow units. All of these are really discussions about the 2013 market year as this year’s pig crop sales are already fixed – matings done today will be sold to slaughter early next year.

Given the extreme (at least what we consider extreme) dryness in southern Minnesota and general dryness in the western cornbelt, everyone is asking about planting intentions and general crop prospects. It appears from the comments I’ve picked up here at Denver that much of central and eastern Iowa and states to the east have adequate moisture going into the new crop year. The challenged areas appear to be northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota, northeast Nebraska, Kansas, etc. This may be the year the newly released drought tolerant corn varieties get to demonstrate their capabilities.

A lot of discussion about the magnitude of the PRRS breaks occurring this winter. Tuesday’s session here at Denver will be on PRRS exclusively. Ask any veterinarian working in the industry about their winter and they can sum it up in 1 acronym – PRRS. The frustrations of this disease are many. One of the sessions I attended yesterday included some discussion of how to maintain employee moral in the face of a major break. Working in a sow unit that has a PRRS break and getting no weaned pigs for 4 weeks can be very depressing.

There are a lot of reports of new construction, especially grow-finish and wean-finish. Already I’ve heard reports of slat plants being totally sold out for this construction year. Also some discussion of conversion of older 1500 sow sites located in the middle of hog dense regions continuing to close down and be converted to wean-finish sites, with new sow construction occurring in less pig dense regions.

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