Biosecurity Inconveniences

Last week I visited a sow unit that was about 10 days into a PED virus outbreak. While I was there to examine ventilation settings and GDU options, it was hard not to have a discussion with the employees about the virus outbreak. The most common question that all of the employees asked – when we start keeping pigs alive? Read More...

What drives change in the industry

Today I will be attending the annual meetings of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the Minnesota Pork Board. Topics of discussion that I expect to hear in the hallways and even from delegates and presenters include the EPA decision on ethanol, the status of the Farm Bill, the latest on who has experienced a site breaking with PED virus, and profit opportunities for next year. At the same time, southern Minnesota is under a winter weather watch beginning this evening with 3-5 inches of snow possible. By Friday a major cold front will mean high temperatures in Mankato of only 5F (-15C).  Read More...

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Regardless of your choice of radio stations, this week you can’t avoid commentaries regarding America’s Thanksgiving traditional protein source – turkey. As we have come to expect, HSUS and other anti-animal agricultural groups have weighed in with their own versions of commentary. Probably the most extreme comment that I saw from one group was the declaration that artificial insemination was animal cruelty as it denied the tom and hen turkeys from enjoyment of their natural functions. Read More...

Why are there fewer piles of corn this year?

Driving to a site visit this morning in Northwest Iowa I went past quite a few country elevators. In the past with ‘normal’ yields there have been huge piles of corn stored on the ground at these locations, often 1 million or more bushels in some of the piles. Even with the very dry August conditions in the region, most producers will tell you they had ‘average’ corn yields this year. Yet, there was very little corn stored in piles at the country elevator points I passed this morning. Read More...

Sale Weights are Rising Fast

I have tracked the Iowa-Southern Minnesota live weight at slaughter (www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/NW_LS720.txt) for many years. My original interest was in defining the impact of summer heat as measured by the significant annual decline in sales weight for barrows and gilts that always occurs between June 1 and September 1. On average, this decline from the January sales weight has been 8.5-9.0 pounds. Read More...

The smell of money

If you drive anywhere in the upper Midwest where there are pig production facilities you are bound to occasionally sense an ‘aroma’ in the air as producers apply a year’s worth of manure to agricultural lands. While there is still some ‘aroma’ associated with this annual task, producers have become more sensitive to their local community needs regarding this ‘aroma’. Read More...

Canadian Live Pig Imports to US

The flow of feeder pigs from Canada continues to slow in reaction to MCOOL legislation and the terrible economics of pig production for many Canadian producers this past year. For the week ending October 12, 2013, 61,330 live pigs weighing less than 55 kg (110 lb) crossed the border from the Canada to the US. This is the lowest number of feeder pigs to cross since February of 2002 for any non-holiday week. Read More...