Pork Commentary: No Shows Hurt Hog Market

US - Last Monday only 180,000 hogs were slaughtered as several US packing plants were unable to fill their shifts with the necessary labor to make the lines operate.
calendar icon 8 May 2006
clock icon 5 minute read

This was the result of a massive protest against proposed immigration, illegal worker and guest worker legislation. The reality is, take recent arrivals to the US out of the labor mix at slaughter plants and it will be very hard to get hogs slaughtered without a large appreciation in labor rates. Higher labor rates would increase kill costs and in all likelihood, make US pork less competitive in world markets. Higher costs at slaughter plants would probably decrease the price packers could pay producers for hogs.

The new worker issue also relates to swine production facilities. Many a pork system and farmer relies on new arrivals to get the work done. Lets be honest, the average born in American’s dream is not to work on a hog farm, or in a slaughter plant. We need the continual infusion of motivated recent arrivals to make the pork food chain operate. This is an issue that is political, social and economic, an issue which isn’t going to go away.

One of the major consequences of Monday’s protest was a daily slaughter of only 180,000 head. This backed up hogs, and the rest of the week it put packers in the driver seat on price. They could pay less and still fill their kills. It was the big reason prices suffered. Packers though, were not getting rich with one packer telling us there was $10.00 per head being lost in their kill. Since then cut-outs have gained some strength, reaching $68.61 last Thursday.

The US packing industry can kill 410,000 head per day and as seasonally hog marketing’s go down the fight between packers to maintain retail shelf space, food service contracts and export commitments will in all likelihood push hog prices as packers have to chase hogs to fill their requirements. In our opinion excess packer capacity will lead to higher prices this summer than meat supply levels would historically indicate.


We were given the new data compiled by Pig Champ from their benchmarking database last week. Our observations:

2005 Pigs Weaned Mated Female

Looks like 21.5 to 22 pigs weaned per year is about the national average on the Pig Champ Benchmark database. Keep in mind these are producers who will share their data and have records and that in itself probably indicates they are above average producers to begin with.

In April’s National Hog Farmer Magazine data from Swine Management Services LLC in Fremont Nebraska, indicates of 150 farms and 289,000 sows that the average P/W/MF/year was 21.99 with a sow death rate of 9.82%. Of these 289,000 sows, there were three farms over 25 P/W/MF/ year.

Getting high production is hard and the facts back this up. To be over 25 P/W/MF/year you are in the top 3-4% of all producers. It is one reason our company Genesus Swine Genetics recognizes our customers that reach the “magical plateau” of 25 plus pigs. Sustainable high productivity over one calendar year, let alone several, takes dedication, knowledge, teamwork, and maximum use of available technology. The ability to push the productivity envelope is us as much a guarantee for financial sustainability and prosperity as high hog prices or cheap feed.

Nobody has ever gone broke weaning 25 plus pigs. We all have read ads which talk of stellar results of Farm A or Farm B. Have you ever wondered if these results are real? We have. That is why every one of our thirty nine 25 plus award winning customers’ name, picture, and results are shown. Real results and real people!

This is a hard, tough business and real producers of excellence deserve recognition. They are raising the bar of possibility and capability for the rest of the industry.

Following is the picture and the names of the thirty nine Genesus 25 plus Pig Champ verified winners for the calendar year 2005. If you wish to receive copies of their actual Pig Champ email us at [email protected] and we will forward them to you.

Source: Jim Long, Genesus Genetics / Keystone Pig Advancement Inc. - 8th May 2006
Reproduced courtesy Farms.com

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