Corn piles, PED virus and random thoughts

My post a couple of weeks ago about the lack of corn piles in prompted quite a few personal responses. Most agreed with my assessment of the corn grain sales situation in SW Minnesota and NW Iowa and the conclusion that on-farm storage has increased enough that farmers didn’t sell as much corn this fall as we’ve come to expect.

On the other hand, several pointed out the massive piles of grain in North and South Dakota. That makes sense when you consider the record yields they had this year and the large expansion in acreage for corn and soybeans in these states. On-farm grain storage has not expanded in this region yet to the level necessary to accommodate this fall’s crop, meaning producers had few options other than sales of grain at harvest to the local coops. The very cold weather we’ve been experiencing in this region is going a long way towards keeping the grain in these massive piles in good condition.

On another note, the PED virus has been reported in many sites in southern Minnesota in the past 2 weeks. The common theme among those that have become infected at sow sites is to make all sows as sick as possible as rapidly as possible so that maternal immunity can begin showing up in the milk in about 3 weeks. In the mean time, everyone that has had the disease in a sow unit agrees that you will loose about 4 weeks of production. At the break it appears that you get 100% mortality in pigs under 1 week of age and you have all pigs born in the next 3 weeks or so become infected shortly after birth and die. Once maternal immunity becomes available to the suckling pigs in about 3 weeks you can begin saving pigs.

For now, I know of at least 2 Minnesota production systems that don’t allow their field staff to visit convenience stores when going between production sites. They can pay-at-the-pump for fuel, but can’t enter the store for their Mountain Dew and donut. For now, all convenience stores, coops, etc in pig dense regions should be considered contaminated with PED virus as the result of foot traffic.

The best advice for those of us who visit production sites is to pull disposable boots on over our street shoes prior to exiting a vehicle so that any PED virus we may have picked up at one of these community sites doesn’t end up being the source of an infection. It looks like now would be a good time to invest in a company that makes disposable boots!

The spot market for weaned pigs hit $87 last week. This is the highest spot market price ever reported by USDA with their reporting series going back to at least 1999 when I began tracking the data. The price for 40 lb feeder pigs averaged $81.44 2 weeks ago. While high, that isn’t the record in my data series. In late February and early March of 2012 40 lb pigs were over $85/pig with the spot cash hitting $86.27 the week ending March 2, 2012.

Some of the spot market demand is due to the profit opportunities this summer. However many are speculating that the need for pigs to fill production holes by systems that have already experienced PED is driving prices to these near record or record highs. Many are thinking about the need to fill contracted facilities but I also wonder how much of this is also driven by the need to fill packer supply contracts the missing pigs were tied to. While I’ve not had any conversations with pig procurement people on the topic I’m sure there have been a lot of conversations with producers having supply contracts with packers regarding the penalties and/or options if they fail to deliver the number of pigs specified in the contract. A 4 week gap in production due to PED at a sow unit translates into a 4 week gap in providing pigs to a packer under a supply contract.

2 thoughts on “Corn piles, PED virus and random thoughts

  1. My brother and I have contact finish barns and we’re told if we get ped they’ll cancel our contacts. How common is this approach,

  2. Sounds like you may need some legal advice. If you have a written contract, what are the terms for cancellation in the contract? If you have an unwritten agreement then you don’t have a lot of options.

    Do the sites get visited by the pig owner or his agent during the grow-out? If yes, what are they doing to be sure they are not the cause of introduction of PED virus to the unit? What are you doing to strengthen your biosecurity in the face of this posslbe contract issue? Do you have a bench entry to the barns so NO outside footware ever crosses the barrier? Many production systems now mandate that their field staff cannot enter convenience stores or coops, etc while visiting sites. Most likely PED virus is on the floor of these common community points. Assume they are contaminated and act accordingly as a first defense from this possible source of introduction.

    In my conversations with veterinarians, PED virus in grow-fin facilities causes a reduction in daily gain during the viral episode but it doesn’t appear to have serious long term death loss or feed conversion impacts, especially if the pigs are further along in their growth process.

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