While I assume a large majority of the readers of this blog are US producers in the upper Midwest, I know of several frequent readers located in other countries of the world. For many of the readers of this blog, snow and snowstorms are not something they have any experiences to relate to. We had a major storm in the Midwest last week and this week another storm is rolling through the Ohio Valley region.
The timing of these storms has created a lot of havoc for both producers and slaughter plants, especially given the timing of Christmas this year. Last Wednesday I was a speaker on a program in Iowa City, one day prior to a major storm effectively shutting down all of eastern Iowa for any type of travel due to blizzard conditions.
Many producers who had registered for the meeting did not attend due to the need to stay home and prepare for the coming storm. A major problem with storms is the continuation of feed deliveries from feed mills. This storm was a major headache for all the mills in the region. Friday and Monday are normally the busiest days in the swine feed milling industry. Add to that the fact that little if any feed could be delivered on Thursday and the following Monday was a work shortened day due to Christmas Eve (many mills tried to close 1-3 hours early if possible) and add in no milling on Christmas Day and you can begin to see the impact of the storm for many production sites.
I’ve had one report of feed mill closures in Ohio today due to the latest storm. Production systems associated with these mills had to deal with the Christmas Eve early shutdowns and closures yesterday. Depending on how well producers and growers monitored their inventories and anticipated the coming storms and associated delivery problems, I suspect the situation is/was ripe for a series of extended out-of-feed events, in spite of every effort being made by feed mills to deliver feed to sites in a timely manner.
As a consequence of this disruption in feed deliveries, we can expect an increase in deaths in the coming days due to twisted gut and hemorrhagic bowl associated with the gorging of feed by hungry pigs. In addition there is some evidence that long term deaths within a unit will increase if the out-of-feed event(s) include a missed morning and afternoon eating event.
At the packer end of the production chain, the disruptions in transportation are just as bad. At SVC Research we had loads originally scheduled for Thursday morning slaughter shifted to a Friday delivery and USDA reports showed several Iowa plants operating at reduced levels of slaughter. As other commentators on market prices have noted, the timing of these storms is making year to year comparisons extremely difficult.