Impact of summer heat on sale weights

I missed writing last weeks blog because of all of the activities surrounding the wedding of my middle daughter last weekend in ONeill, NE. A wonderful wedding for this proud father with no thoughts of blog writing. Thus the writing of this blog in the middle of the week.

With the cool temperatures in the upper Midwest for the past month, sale weight of barrows and gilts in the Iowa and Southern Minnesota region has begun its seasonal increase. The 272.0 lb average sale weight last week was 1.6 lb heavier than the summer low of 270.4 lb recorded for the week ending on July 27.

I decided to review the summer patterns for slaughter weight declines in this market. I computed the weekly sale weight for every week of the year versus the sale weight of the first full sales week of the each year beginning with the first week of January in 2004 using the data from the USDA-AMS report NW_LS720.

The impacts of summer conditions on sale (slaughter) weight become very evident when you chart this data by year. In years with ‘hot’ summer conditions (2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012) sale weights for weeks 29-35 of the year (mid July to late August) were less than 96% of the early January weight. Weights in 2006, 2008 and 2011 dropped under 95% of the early January weight for weeks 30, 31 and 32.

On the other hand, years that we remember as relatively cool (2004, 2009, 2010 and 2013) had mid-summer weights no lower than 98% of the early January weights.

Obviously feed grain prices and the associated cost of gain also influenced the slaughter weights, especially last summer as corn and soy meal prices rose rapidly in response to lowered harvest expectations from the on-going drought.

However, this data points out the importance of doing everything you can with building design and management to assist the growing pig with heat relief. I continue to visit too many sites with improperly installed ‘misters’ or even no ‘misters’. Even when properly installed controllers and timers are set incorrectly for both ‘on’ temperatures and on/off timing. A decline in sale weight of 14+ pounds from the start of the year, at a time when prices are normally in the highest range for the year is something that needs attention.

We’ve got to do a better job of managing all of the tools in our tool box to maintain summer sale weight. We’ve still got 4-6 weeks of warm weather ahead of us. What are you doing to get the most out of your pigs and facilities?

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