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Price You Pay for Lightweights

by 5m Editor
7 March 2003, at 12:00am

By Tyler Kelley, Pork Magazine - Any business where 15 percent to 17 percent of the finished product costs you money isn’t a very good deal. But, that may be exactly what’s happening when you market lightweight pigs.

Take me to Pork Magazine John Deen, swine veterinarian with the University of Minnesota, says marketing hogs at 200 pounds could cost you up to $34 per pig, while marketing at 210 pounds and 220 pounds could result in loses of $12 and $7 per pig respectively. He bases this perspective on a 260-pound target weight.

Deen’s study took into account the entire process from farrow to finish, and included amounts saved by using less feed on slow-growing pigs. The numbers will vary, depending on market prices and packer matrices, but he says it presents a good average.

“The costs of lightweights are greatly influenced by individual packer matrices,” says Tom Fangman, DVM, University of Missouri. “Depending upon where the lightweight docks start and how severe those docks are, you could be losing a lot of money due to lightweight pigs.”

Having an alternative market for lightweights is wise – when it is possible. But for most producers it’s only practical to market hogs to one packer, due to transportation costs and contracts. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Ken Stalder, University of Tennessee Extension swine specialist, says lightweight pigs can be used for some niche markets. He points to the Hispanic-marketing project that the University of Tennessee is performing, which has used some pigs in the 200- to 220-pound range.

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(March 2003)
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