Drive Toward Heavier Hog Weights Improves Profitability

CANADA - The manager of applied meat science with PIC North America says heavier finishing weights have helped improve the profitability of North American pork production, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 27 November 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

The Trend Towards Heavier Pigs and the Effect on Profitability was among the topics discussed last week in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2014.

Brandon Fields, the manager of applied meat science with PIC North America, says although it takes more time and more feed to reach these higher finishing weights the cost per kilogram of pork produced actually decreases.

Brandon Fields-PIC North America PIC North America:

Weights have been increasing for the last 30 to 40 years minimum throughout North America and to an extent, globally.

They're a little behind in some of the international markets.

But as we look at the US, Canada, certainly since the 80s and 90s this weight has been going up every year by a half kilo to a kilo.

Right now from a US perspective our average weights are running around 130 to 135 kilos.
Here in Canada it's probably a little closer to 120.

As far as what's been driving that, really the drive has been an increase in profitability.
By turning out more kilograms of pork per sow space in your system, you're reducing your input costs and your fixed costs.

With current feed costs and market price it's very profitable to go to these heavier weights and sell the additional kilos of pork.

Mr Fields says modern genetics have retained the ability to stay lean at these higher weights so there's no negative implications in terms of carcass and meat quality.

He says there has been some resistance from retailers over fears the consumer will push back but he's confident that, with different cutting techniques and some value added marketing strategies, the consumer will accept it.

Charlotte Rowney

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