I’ve spent this week doing producer meetings along with 2 site visits in Iowa. I got to see lots of tractors pulling anhydrous rigs along I80 in eastern Iowa and even saw some manure being applied. Spring is here (at least for those of you that far south) and it’s time to think about your summer management strategies.
I’ve written about these strategies in past years but it’s always a good idea to review them. A delay in implementation and/or incorrect implementation will cost you in terms of sale weight. Every year slaughter weights in the US bottom out in mid-late August as a result of declines in summer feed intake by growing pigs which are hot. Cooler nights, especially in the northern cornbelt, beginning in late August are the start of the very rapid increase in fall slaughter weights.
Depending on the economics of feed ingredients, many of you along with your nutritionist plan on increasing dietary energy for growing pigs in summer heat as one method to reduce the impact of heat on slaughter weight. The pigs you’re placing in grow-finish barns now are your hot weather sales. Now is the time to begin the process of increasing dietary energy if that is your strategy. Don’t wait until mid-May – you’ve already given up too much weight gain on these pigs.
Before you get too involved in field work, review your controller settings for stir fans and wetting of pigs. In general if you have stir fans in curtain barns, they should be set to turn on about 12-14F above set point. Wetting should begin at 18-20F above set point.
Reviewing these settings now means you’ll have things in place on that first hot May day when you’re racing to plant the last acres before a spring storm comes along to cool things down.