Economics

Opportunity Revenue and the Cost of Intervention

Causes of variation in pig production are many and not well understood. One of the key issues arises from the spread in pig weights which begins through a kind of competitive process among the pigs beginning well before birth. Competition in the uterus and during lactation results in a sometimes widely spread distribution of potential in pigs by the time they reach weaning. Some common management procedures are implemented beginning at birth to attempt to reduce variation but their outcome is often marginal, while others, such as processing and castration introduce new challenges to subsets of pigs. Pigs of different weights require different environmental temperatures, feed types and other conditions, yet as variation increases, "average" conditions are provided which probably miss the ideal environment for all but a very small number of pigs.

Some producers are experimenting with simply euthanizing the smallest pigs either at weaning or prior to weaning. An arbitrary percentage is chosen, such as the smallest 3-5% as candidates for euthanizing. Recently published trials (Wolff, Lehe, Keffaber and Deen, "A Producer's Tool for Measuring Attrition", IPVS, 2006) suggest that the weight of the pig, relative to its cohort at both weaning and the end of nursery phase are sentinel indicators of eventual final quality with the weight at the end of the nursery phase a stronger predictor. The result was obtained with all other things held constant so it isn’t clear if targeted or more intensive individual interventions aimed at the smallest pigs at weaning and feeder pig stages would affect the outcome.

SwineCast 0214 for July 3 2007

SwineCast 0214 Show Notes:

Too Much of a Good Thing...Is Rarely a Good Thing (with apologies to Martha Stewart)

Variation is a natural part of biological systems and a characteristic that cannot be eliminated. However, the wise producer will institute procedures from the boar stud to the final loading of the finished animals which at a minimum, does not increase the natural variation in growth. Variation costs money, lots of it. Since we adopted systems which produce weekly lots of pigs, the pigs flow through the farm in age-segregated groups, often moving two or three times to different locations. When their growth performance begins to spread, the time and the cost associated with their completion and marketing begins to rise.

Two Peas in a Pod---They Ain't"

So we are talking about not adding to the fundamental problems which biological production systems deal out just because of their nature. Some of those problems include seasonality, the complexity of growth mechanisms as a key variance enhancer (compared to non-biological production—like automobile manufacture etc.) and the fixed periods of production which cannot be speeded up with an extra shift (like gestation). I’m contending that the next major movement forward in competitiveness is the producer’s ability to manage (certainly never eliminate!) variation more effectively. There is lots of money on that table.

WPX2007: Dr. Dennis DiPietre outlook on production costs and prioritization of various input costs for profit maintenance.

Dr. Dennis DiPietre, economist, provides an outlook on production costs and how producers can prioritize various input costs in order to maintain profit levels.


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If You Know Your New COP Using the Leftover Corn Out There, No Need to Read This.

If you want to know the impact of increased corn prices on your cost of production, chose a forecasted corn price (take your pick of forecaster between $3.40 and $3.85 with some as high as $5.00+ if drought develops) and crank through your feed cost calculation. If you do this and it actually turns out to be your new cost of production, you will be one of the last few producers in the pork industry with absolutely no imagination whatsoever.

One thing we know for certain is that people do not face adversity sitting still. All kinds of secondary strategies, impacts, cost cutting, substitutions, new research and experiments, adjustments in weights and plain ingenuity immediately move to the forefront. In addition, poultry producers and other meat animal species that consume corn are making similar adjustments as are tortilla makers, users of high fructose corn sweeteners and even elevator/feed mills that used to get the corn. As they do, the prices of their products change relative to the price of pork and demand shifts begin to take place at the grocery store and throughout the chain.

SwineCast 0206 for June 5 2007

SwineCast 0206 Show Notes:

  • SwineCast at World Pork Expo
  • Purdue's Brian Rickerts looks at DDGs long term effect on protein quality
  • Viewing today's prices from a historical perspective with Steve Meyer

SwineCast 0202 for May 22 2007

SwineCast 0202 Show Notes:

  • Prairie Systems Feed Allocation System helps manage your nutrient flow.
  • Alternative feedstuffs gaining ground outside the U.S.
  • Dr. Gerald Shurson shares his thoughts on Ethanol impact.
  • Canadians hoping new crop will ease pricing pressure.

SwineCast 0201 for May 18 2007

SwineCast 0201 Show Notes:

  • At the Pork Managers Conference in Destin, Florida: 1) Conversations with Sarah Fogleman from Kansas State & Mark Greenwood with AgStar Financial Services and their presentation on building a management team and preparing for transition and 2) Economist Abner Womack from the University of Missouri talking ethanol and feed prices.<

SwineCast 0196 for May 1 2007

SwineCast 0196 Show Notes:

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