When wean-finish technology first hit the US industry in the mid-late 1990’s, many estimates of production cost versus traditional nursery moved to finisher suggested fewer hours of labor per pig for wean-finish. Earlier this week I was asked if there was any evidence for this being true today.
I went into the University of Minnesota Farm Business data set (www.finbin.umn.edu) and sorted the data to include 2013 through 2016 (4 years). There is data on nurseries, wean-finish and grow-finish for producers who do their own labor and there is data on contract finishers and contract wean-finish cooperators.
The following values are estimated hours of labor per pig (4 year average) for owners of pigs: nursery – 0.09; grow-finish – 0.26; wean-finish – 0.28.
For contract growers the estimated hours of labor per pig (4 year average) are: grow-finish – 0.17; wean-finish – 0.14.
Some of the difference in total hours between the owners and contract growers could be due to on-farm feed processing by owners. There would no feed processing by contract growers.
The data also appear to support the common experience of production systems that contract growers only allocate xx hours to pig care, regardless of whether or not a barn is overstocked at weaning for a wean-finish site. This is why many systems are going back to single-stock – pig care is improved at many contract grower sites. This does not imply that all contract growers behave like this, rather it is a behavior that has been noted by many pig owners with pigs in contract barns.
Overall, this more recent data appears to support the expectation of 20 years ago that wean-finish production flows have lower total labor per pig than nursery moved to finisher flows.