Some random thoughts this week

Earlier this week I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska and back to Mankato. There is a lot of corn piled at country elevators everywhere along the route. While some of it is covered (both with and without aeration fans under the covers) there was a lot of exposed corn getting wet from the recent rains. Keep in mind that with the warm fall, this corn went into the piles warm.

The cold front coming through the region today will freeze the tops of many of these piles, but the warmth of the pile will still encourage funny things to grow in the corn. If your mill is using corn for your diets that is from an outside pile, you may want to start keeping an eye on grain quality issues over the next month. If the pile is used relatively rapidly, not much of a concern. If the pile is so big that it really takes a couple of months to use it up, there may be some cause for concern the longer the pile remains uncovered and weather stays warm.

On another note, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to my thoughts regarding PEDv risks this winter – will we see 2013 type epidemic or will be get 2014 mild version or will it be????? The vast majority of the females that were in inventories in during the 2013 epidemic have been culled so the breeding herd is much more naïve than last winter, adding to the concerns of producers. I think the vast majority of production systems have a strategy in place for dealing with an outbreak in a breed-wean unit, unlike 2013. Even if we see an uptick in occurrences, I’m pretty confident that the impact will be closer to 2014 like versus the tragedies of 2013.

Finally, have you thought about how many pigs move on transport vehicles in the US daily? We have an on-farm inventory of about 68 million pigs, not counting pigs nursing on lactating females in farrowing rooms. This past week we’ve had about 430,000 pigs a day being transported to slaughter facilities. We wean about 235-250,000 litters per week from our breeding herd inventory of 5.986 million head. At 10.2 pigs/litter, this is somewhere around 2.5 million pigs per week. The vast majority of weaned pigs are transported on Monday-Friday so this makes another 500,000 pigs on the road daily during the work week. Add another 250,000 or so moving from nurseries to grow-finish sites and from double-stock wean-finish to grow-finish sites and suddenly we are well above 1 million pigs on the road daily in the US.

We have constructed 2 and 3 site production flows to better control pig health with all-out by site production methods. This has greatly helped us reduced many of the chronic diseases that plagued our industry in the 1970’s and 80’s. It’s allowed us to have great close-out information to better manage the next flows of pigs to the sites. However, has it put us at risk? We know PEDv got carried to many sites by the transport vehicles we use. You can’t talk with production people anymore without some discussion of truck washes, feed truck entry, etc.

The Seneca Valley Virus in the upper Midwest has made many of us think more about foreign animal disease risks. Our production systems that are based on transport of pigs are a risk when we talk disease spread, even with much better sanitation protocols in place than even 2 years ago. Something to think about.

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