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October 11, 2010
In this issue:
  Corn Stocks, Yields Drive Feed Prices Higher
  Focus on Farrowing to Save More Pigs
  Policymakers Call for “Vigorous Economic Analysis” of GIPSA Rule
  Ohio Livestock Care Board Addresses Critical Issues

Corn Stocks, Yields Drive Feed Prices Higher
Last Friday’s USDA Crop Production and World Supply and Demand Estimates reports have made this week’s column much darker and foreboding. Just eight short days after finding 300 million bushels more corn in Sept. 1 inventories (i.e. year-end or carryout inventories for the 2009-2010 crop year), USDA reduced its forecasts of 2010 corn yield and total crop size enough to push projected year-end stocks in 2011 to less than 1 billion bushels. That level puts the projected year-end-stocks-to-use ratio at its lowest level since 1995-96 and the second lowest level in my data set, which goes back to 1969.

The first number to note in Table 1 is the sharply reduced feed and residual figure for the 2009-10 crop year. USDA had to account for the low Sept. 1 stocks figure and did so by reducing feed/residual by 7.5% from its September estimate. That figure would mean Q3 feed/residual usage would amount to only about 200 million bushels compared to 600-700 million bushels the past three years. Pretty ridiculous.

Two facts are important. First, this category does include residual, so it also catches all of the errors in the other categories. We usually focus on the feed component and that is normally an acceptable practice. But when weird things are happening, the residual part of this number can become large. That doesn’t provide much clarity, but it must be recognized as an important issue in this case.


Focus on Farrowing to Save More Pigs
Over the last few months, there have been several articles in pork industry magazines featuring producers who are focused on saving more pigs in the farrowing unit. With this in mind, we took a closer look at the SMS Farm Benchmarking database to see whether this emphasis has affected total pigs born, stillborn rates, and pre-weaning mortality.

To address how farms classify mortalities in farrowing, SMS developed an equation that we call “piglet survival,” which is simply: 100% - (stillborn % and preweaning mortality %).

Table 1 shows farms that had 13+ total pigs born/female farrowed for the last 52 weeks. In the data set, 282 farms from our data base of 775 farms met these criteria (36.4%). The data was then broken out by size of farms: 93 small farms (<1,000 sows), 147 medium-sized farms (1,000 to 2,999 sows), and 42 large farms (>3,000 sows).

In Table 1, the average pigs weaned/mated female/year (PW/MF/Y) is 25.09 pigs. Small Farms averaged 25.84, medium farms averaged 25.08, and large farms averaged 24.88 PW/MF/Y. We were surprised to see a 12.7-pig variation, with the top farm averaging 31.6 PW/MF/Y and the bottom farm at 18.9 PW/MF/Y. In looking at total born/female farrowed, all farms highest to lowest ranged from 15.8 to 13.0 pigs, with large farms topping out at 14.7 pigs. Pigs weaned/female farrowed ranged from 12.8 to 9.0 pigs for all farms and averaged 10.51 pigs.


Policymakers Call for “Vigorous Economic Analysis” of GIPSA Rule
Over 100 congressmen sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking that USDA’s Office of Chief Economist provide a comprehensive economic analysis of the proposed Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) rule on livestock and poultry marketing. The letter said, “Such a broad rule that extends so far beyond Congress’ direction in the farm bill, and that would precipitate major changes in livestock and poultry marketing, requires a vigorous economic analysis. The analysis contained in the proposed rule fails to demonstrate the need for the rule, assess the impact of its implementation on the marketplace, or establish how the implementation of the rule would address the demonstrated need.” The letter, organized by Congressmen Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Frank Lucas, ranking member of the committee, was signed by 115 members. Also, a number of members of the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter to USDA regarding the proposed rule. The Florida letter said, “Upon close review, this proposed rule contains many elements and almost exact wording that was discussed and eliminated by Congress when the farm bill was passed in 2008. It is our opinion that government should not take on the role of manipulating domestic supply, cost or prices. This proposed rule is a clear invasion of the government into the private marketplace.”


Ohio Livestock Care Board Addresses Critical Issues
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued a special meeting notice for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board Technical Research Advisory Committee and Veal Subcommittee to convene Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 1-4 p.m. at the Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medicine Academic Building in the Epperson Conference Room, 1900 Coffey Rd., Columbus OH.

The purpose of the special meeting will be to discuss draft non-ambulatory care standards, draft swine care standards and draft veal care standards.

The board, established in November 2009, is charged with establishing standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio.


Oct. 14-16, 2010: USan Antonio International Farm and Ranch Show, San Antonio Livestock Expo & Freeman Coliseum
San Antonio, TX
for more information contact: or call (210) 226-1177

Nov. 4-5, 2010: : Iowa State University Swine Disease Conference for Swine Practitioners, Scheman Building, Iowa State University
Ames, IA
for more information contact:Julie Kieffer at or(515) 956-3201.

Nov. 11-17, 2010: United States Animal Health Association and American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians Annual Meeting, Minneapolis Hilton Hotel
Minneapolis, MN
for more information contact: or

U.S. pork producers must be able to compete in foreign markets without restrictive tariffs or sanitary barriers to trade. NPPC’s mission of gaining and expanding access to markets through free trade agreements is paramount to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry — Click here to learn more.


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.



The Sept. 15th edition of National Hog Farmer magazine features a special report, sponsored by Phibro Animal Health, Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer, which highlights the 2010 Environmental Stewards award winners. In addition, you will find a special feature explaining oral fluid collection using cotton ropes as a simple, inexpensive disease screening method for various swine diseases. These and additional production-based articles may be found at



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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