The European production challenge

The USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report will be released at 2 pm this afternoon. Everyone is looking for a continued decrease in the US breeding herd and smaller numbers in all weight categories in the kept for market inventory. Assuming these expectations are met, Dr Ron Plain at the University of Missouri is predicting 2nd quarter hog prices in 2010 to be in the $67-70 range for carcass prices. While not wildly profitable, this price will stop the severe erosion of equity that has occurred the past 2 years for many producers. Read More...

Power failures and snow storms

Two weeks ago I spent 2 days in northeast Nebraska making site visits and doing producer meetings. My visit began the day after the ‘big storm’ and snow drifts were up to the eaves of the buildings on the 2 sites I stopped at. As I write this week’s blog, another storm is forming in the southwest, with the governor of South Dakota already declaring an emergency situation in advance of the storm. Read More...

Subtle messages to our youth

On Monday of this week I received an email from an 11 year old niece. In it she asked for my support of her efforts to help the less fortunate in the world. Included in the email was a link to a website that gave a list of 10 actions youth can take to help combat world hunger. While there were many worthwhile activities in the list of actions, number 1 on the list was ‘become a vegetarian’. Read More...

European Union Pig Numbers

As frequent readers of the blog are aware, I have an interest in the structure of the pig industry world wide. Such things as what countries are major producers of pork, trends in their production numbers, etc. The US is the world’s second largest country producing pork, with China 4-5x larger than the US in production. We are all aware of the impact of Chinese trade on our markets, with the recent decision of Chinese authorities to reopen their borders to US pork products welcomed by all. Read More...

Getting furnace settings right in the controller

For the past 10 days I’ve been looking at temperatures and associated controller settings from data loggers that were placed in producer facilities in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in preparation for a series of ventilation workshops next week. We’ve done this at other locations around the Midwest in previous years, and the results this year were not different or surprising. There are a lot of controllers set wrong in production facilities, with the result being excessive propane usage and significant over ventilation of facilities, especially at the time of pig placement. Read More...

Indian summer has finally arrived

It’s 63 F degrees outside this afternoon and I think every combine in the state of Minnesota is being used to harvest corn and soybeans. What a difference in attitude Indian Summer brings, especially when it arrives this late in the season and after such a frustrating October. Yield reports have been mixed on soybeans, mostly related to whether the producer got any rainfall in August or early September. Corn yield reports are all very good. Even with the dry summer for much of this area, reports of 200+ bu/ac are relatively common. Hopefully the wind and warm temps this weekend will dry the corn down a few points so that the pace of harvest can pick up even faster. Read More...

Hats off

I spent 4 days this week in 2 2500 sow breed-to-wean units ear tagging 5 day old pigs on their birth litters as part of an upcoming research project. I don’t normally spend much time in sow units, other than to help them with ventilation issues. Being in the units and working side by side with the employees made me appreciate even more the effort that goes into the weaned pigs that many of us receive in our nurseries and wean-finish facilities.  Read More...