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July 5, 2010
In this issue:
  Question of the Day: When to Lock in Profits?
  Influence of Weaning Age on Farm Productivity
  Judicious Antimicrobial Use Document Released
  Small Towns in Iowa Thrive Near Large Farms

Question of the Day: When to Lock in Profits?
If I told you that you could lock up a calendar year’s production of market hogs and average $20/head profit for every one of them, would you take it? There is no right answer to that question because it depends on a lot of factors. Included in that list of factors is your attitude toward risk, your financial position, the stage of life that you are in (young people can take more risks because they have more time to recover if it doesn’t pan out), the viewpoints of other owners, and the profit opportunities that you could tap if you free up time, energy, capital, whatever by making a decision now.

But that opportunity is at hand – or at least it was earlier this week before USDA’s Acreage and Grain Stocks reports pushed corn prices sharply higher. On Monday, my production model said that producers could lock in corn, soybean meal and hogs to earn just over $22/head for the remainder of 2010, $16.53/head for all of 2010, and $20.49 for July 2010 through June 2011. Those figures have deteriorated just a bit this week – to $19.27, $14.85 and $19.15, respectively. The costs and prices that result in those returns appear in Figure 1.

A savvy producer told me today that his company is very excited about the margins being offered right now and will lock them in for a high proportion of production. This guy is, I believe, somewhat risk averse, but I also know that his viewpoint on risk got him through the past two years relatively scot free.


Influence of Weaning Age on Farm Productivity
We have been asked by several people to look into the effect of weaning age on performance of breed-to-wean facilities. Since we get data from over 20 different sow recordkeeping programs, there is some question of the accuracy of what true average weaning age is because record programs handle nurse sows, partial litter weaning and crossfostering, differently. Each farm needs to review how their sow record program calculates weaning age.

The trend in the industry has been to wean older pigs in an effort to get larger pigs, which reduces the cost of early nursery diets, plus pigs start faster when placed in wean-to-finish barns.

Chart 1, from the Swine management Services (SMS) benchmarking database, shows weaning age trends over the last 5+ years. The average weaning age increased from 18.2 days (January 2005) to 19.9 days (March 2009), and has since leveled out at 19.6 days.


Judicious Antimicrobial Use Document Released
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released the document, “Draft Guidance on the Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals,” indicating a new policy goal for the use of antibiotics for animals. The agency said, “The overall weight of evidence available to date supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth-enhancing purposes (i.e., non-therapeutic or sub-therapeutic uses) in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health.” FDA had testified to this affect last summer. The National Pork Producers Council commented, “This guidance could eliminate certain antibiotics that are extremely important to the health of animals. FDA didn’t present any science on which to base this, yet it could have a tremendous negative impact on animal health and, ultimately, the safety of food. As we know, healthy animals produce safe food, and we need every available tool to protect animal health.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on July 15, regarding antibiotic usage in animals. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced legislation, the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act,” which would ban use of antibiotics for animals except for treatment.

Legislation Would Lift Travel, Trade Restrictions to Cuba — The House Agriculture Committee passed historic legislation that expands U.S. agriculture trade with Cuba and allows Americans to travel to Cuba. The “Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act” restores the original congressional intent of payment of cash in advance policy for Cuba’s purchases of U.S. farm products and eliminates the need for Cuba to use third-country banks to make payment to U.S. exporters. Texas A&M University estimates that lifting the travel restrictions will increase U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba in the long term by $336 million annually. The bill is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, USA Rice Federation and numerous other agricultural organizations.


Small Towns in Iowa Thrive Near Large Farms
A study by Iowa State University (ISU) rural sociologists suggests that small towns in Iowa benefit from the presence of large farms.

“Our findings suggest there is a modest favorable effect of large-scale agriculture on quality of life in the 99 Iowa communities we studied,” says Steve Sapp, professor of sociology. “That’s not especially surprising, given the close relationship between Iowa’s rural communities and agriculture.”

Sapp conducted the studies with Daniel Sundblad, a recent ISU graduate student who is now an assistant professor of sociology at Berry College in Georgia.


July 18-21, 2010: 21st International Pig Veterinary Society Congress, Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada;
For more information contact: (604) 688-9655 ext. 2 or or go to

August 31, 2010: 20th Annual Carthage Veterinary Service, Ltd. Swine Conference, Western Illinois University
Macomb, IL
For more information contact: (217) 357-2811 or go to

August 31-Sep. 2, 2010: Feet First Sow Lameness Symposium, Hilton Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN
For more information contact: (612)-376-1000 or go to

According to a head-to-head trial1, LINCOMIX® (lincomycin) is equally as efficacious for ileitis control at 40 g/T as Tylan® is at 100 g/T. That means you’ll spend a whopping 40% less for comparable results. Contact your veterinarian or your Pfizer Animal Health representative to learn more.
1. Data on file, Study Report No. 768-9690-0-CPC-97-002, Pfizer Inc.


As positive margins return to pork producers’ ledgers, owners and managers are recounting the hard lessons learned as they redouble efforts to improve risk management skills, measure and manage production variance with greater precision, and produce quality pork in a safe and sustainable manner. At the heart of the 50th edition in the Blueprint series, published April 15th, 2010, is a focus on new and improved pathways to profitability.

NPPC works diligently to protect and promote the interests of America’s pork producers who in turn provide safe, nutritious pork to domestic and foreign markets, generating thousands of jobs and more than $30 billion of gross national product to the U.S. economy. Click here to see how NPPC is working for you.


The May 15 edition of the National Hog Farmer will feature the fifth class of the “Masters of the Pork Industry,” featuring personal and professional profiles of industry entrepreneurs destined to leave their mark on the North American pork industry. This special edition also features 21 products nominated for the National Hog Farmer’s World Pork Expo New Product tour and a full slate of WPX events and activities.



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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