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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
December 7, 2009
In this issue:
  Good Market News is Rare, but Always Welcome
  New PRRS Test Improves Detection
  EPA Delays Ethanol Decision
  Climate-Change Legislation Would Ruin Hog Production

Good Market News is Rare, but Always Welcome
It was another good week for pork producers as hog prices rose and corn prices fell slightly. While welcome, producers are still losing nearly $20/head. At this point, we will take improvement where we can find it.

Last week’s higher hog market was driven by a $2.50 increase in the cutout value. The weekly average of $62.76/cwt., carcass, was the second highest weekly observation of the year – second only to the week of July 25 (see Figure 1), when packers had slowed chain speeds to restore packer margins from their awful levels of the first half of the year.

Higher cutout values led to higher hog prices as well as the fall price rally. We haven’t seen those four words strung together lately. Figure 2 demonstrates the rarity of a fall price rally. The only one of any significance prior to this year happened in 2004, when prices approached the high for the year in the first week of December and then plunged over $15/cwt. by year’s end.

It may be difficult to sustain this rally since there usually is not a single pork cut that can carry the cutout value higher this late in the year. Last week’s cutout increase was driven, as would be expected with Christmas at hand, by hams and not usually associated with Christmas, spareribs, which went up $4.63/cwt.


New PRRS Test Improves Detection
Infectious diseases remain the major constraint to achieving the genetic potential of pigs in modern swine production. The accurate diagnosis of disease and/or surveillance for infections usually relies on diagnostic tests. Unfortunately, there are no perfect diagnostic tests. No test will always correctly identify all truly positive or truly negative samples.

Inaccurate test results can be a frustrating experience for producers and veterinarians. A good example is the PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test from IDEXX Laboratories commonly used to detect PRRS antibody. Some herds have experienced a false positive rate of up to 3%, although 1% is considered normal.

A false positive reported from a population that is expected to be negative often leads to undesirable and expensive outcomes, including: stopping the shipment of animals or semen; the expense and delay of additional testing of those false positive samples with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or other serology tests; the expense of additional sampling and testing to assure the population is negative; and the heartburn, concern, and consternation on the part of producers, owners, veterinarians and laboratory personnel in dealing with the problem.

Defining Accuracy of a Test
The accuracy of a test is usually defined in terms of sensitivity and specificity. The sensitivity estimates how often the diagnostic test can find its target when the target is present in an optimized specimen. Said another way, sensitivity is the likelihood that the test will identify a truly positive sample as positive by the test. A test that is 99% sensitive will miss one true positive (have one false negative) in every 100 positive samples. This problem is commonly minimized by testing a larger number of animals.

The other measure of accuracy is specificity, which estimates how often a false positive test will occur by measuring how often a negative test is truly negative. A test that is 99% specific will have one false positive test (sample was actually negative) for every 100 tests of truly negative samples. So in the case of PRRS ELISA, 98% specificity means that one could expect two false positive animals in every group of 100 truly negative samples (or one false positive for every 50 truly negative samples).


EPA Delays Ethanol Decision
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would delay its decision on Growth Energy’s petition to raise the blend rate for ethanol in gasoline to 15% next June. EPA wants to review the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing study that will provide critical data on the question of durability when E15 is used. The study is expected to be completed by mid-June.

In a letter to Growth Energy, EPA stated that its engineering assessments indicate that the “robust fuel, engine and emissions control systems in new vehicles (likely 2001 and newer model years) will likely be able to accommodate higher ethanol blends, such as E15.” EPA also noted that increasing the blend wall to E15 is a “critical issue” as the United States works toward long-term introduction of more renewable fuels into the transportation sector.

According to Growth Energy, “This announcement is a strong signal that we are preparing to move to E15, a measure that will create 136,000 new U.S. jobs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and lessen America’s dependence on imported oil.”

The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) stated, “In making this decision, EPA correctly recognizes that there is more study and comprehensive testing to be done to ensure that higher ethanol blends will be safer for consumers and not threaten the reliability of their fuels or operation of their vehicles, engines and outdoor equipment.” Growth Energy filed the petition with EPA in March of this year.


Climate-Change Legislation Would Ruin Hog Production
Climate change legislation would lead to higher grain prices and major cuts in pork production, witnesses indicated at hearings held late last week by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research in Washington, D.C., according to a release from the National Pork Producers.

By 2050, hog slaughter would be 23% lower compared with baseline levels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture economist Joseph Glauber. Fed beef slaughter would fall by almost 10% and milk production by about 17%.

Those reductions would result from croplands being converted to woodlands, which the legislation promotes as a way to help cut greenhouse gases.


Dec. 8, 2009: Pork Profit Seminars, Nevada, MO; contact: Missouri Pork Association at (573) 445-8375.

Dec. 9, 2009: Pork Profit Seminars, Sedalia, MO; contact: Missouri Pork Association at (573) 445-8375.

Dec. 10, 2009: Pork Profit Seminars, Mexico, Mo; contact: Missouri Pork Association at (573) 445-8375.

Our breeding technology is delivering what your operation demands, high production results across a wide range of environmental conditions. Count on the industry leader. Go to the trusted source.Click here for more information.


The news reports announcing the discovery of the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus on April 24, 2009 increased the urgency for proper biosecurity measures in hog operations. Producers continually face the challenge of managing the biosecurity of pigs, people, packages and pests as they redouble efforts to stave off costly swine diseases and retain their access to pork markets in this age of economic uncertainty. Click here for the complete Blueprint archive.

When two leaders come together, expect great things to happen. One-dose protection from wean to finish. That’s Ingelvac® CircoFLEX-MycoFLEX™. The only circovirus and Mycoplasma vaccines USDA-approved for mixing. The result? A true dose of confidence from two powerful leaders. Call Boehringer Ingelheim at 1-800-325-9167or click here for more information.


This month's focus: Viral Swine Diseases
Straight Talk About Hog Barn Ventilation Screw-Ups
In the last 12 months, the Mankato, MN-based specialist says he has spent a great deal of his consultancy time on what he describes as the “screw-ups that happen with ventilation.”
Now May be the Time For PRRS Eradication
Through trial and error spanning more than 20 years, the pork industry has fought to get rid of the elusive porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus. On-farm control programs have been improved, pilot regional control programs are expanding, and pork industry groups are beginning to build support for a grassroots effort to finally stamp out the costly virus.
Risk Assessment Tool Helps Fight PRRS
It has been almost three decades since the PPRS virus was first recognized as the infectious agent responsible for reproductive failure in sows and severe pneumonia in piglets.

Suvaxyn® PCV2 is proven to be a safe and efficacious way to control circovirus. And it controls viremia, too. Suvaxyn PCV2 also provides what no other circovirus vaccine can: the option of one- or two-dose regimen to meet the needs of your operation. Either way, you’ll take more pork to market. Ask your Fort Dodge representative or your animal health supplier about Suvaxyn PCV2.Click here for more information.


National Hog Farmer offers 10 posters targeting key production areas, offering guidance in critical areas such as feet and leg soundness and reproduction traits soundness in replacement gilts. Others include pig anatomy, heat detection, sow condition, etc. All posters are in English. Select posters are translated to Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.


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Our breeding technology is delivering what your operation demands, high production results across a wide range of environmental conditions. Count on the industry leader. Go to the trusted source. Click here for more information.

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