Selling Weight Considerations

     Let's take another crack at this optimal selling weight idea.  In general, for a single pig (to get the theory down), you want to add weight as long as the next lb added returns a profit.  That is, the cost of adding that pound is less than the return it receives.  Somewhere in late finishing, a pig will start receiving less and less for each pound added.  This is because feed efficiency is deteriorating and the packer matrix will at some point discount the lb because the pig is too heavy.  Even though all lbs are discounted when the sort matrix indicates a penalty, as long as the last pound was at a profit, it should be added.

     We know that pigs are selected for marketing in quantities sufficient to fill whatever kind of trailer is being used to take them to market.  This can be any size but is typically about 165-185 pigs for a semi trailer (depending on the average weight).  These pigs all weigh different amounts, so the next level of complexity is to optimize the average weight on the group with respect to profitability.  Most producers have a sense of that from feedback on sort loss but not very many actually take the time and effort to figure out if their sense of things is close to the real profit maximizing level.

     If you can get individual animal weights from your packer (and many of you can), you are a step ahead.  Sometime when you are curious, take a look at the typical weight distribution you send to market.  It will be different on the first cut of a building and the last dump for most producers although some companies place a high premium on uniformity and will allow the finisher to continue on until most of the pigs that will achieve targeted weights have gotten there.  Some take one or two cuts and then dump the rest.

     If you take a look at a typical load as individuals, you can put them in an excel spreadsheet and assign an adg and fe to them from a growth curve which your nutritionist or genetics supplier can provide.   From the growth curve you can estimate the feed consumed by each pig in your load at the weight it went to market.  In a spreadsheet setting it is not very difficult to estimate the cost of the last lb of gain on each of the pigs.  Compare this to the price received.  If there are lots of profits on the last lb placed on each animal, it suggests that you are marketing the animals too light.  However, if the heaviest pigs on the truck are getting discounts such that they were clearly too heavy (last lb did not pay for itself), you must offset the gain on the lighter ones with the losses on the heaviest ones (on the last lb gained).

     The point of this exercise will be the realization that the wider the range of market weights in your load, the lower the average weight of the load must be even if you set that average to maximize profits on the entire load.  If you can narrow the range of the load weight, the optimal average weight will rise.

     How do you decide if one, two, three or more cuts are the optimal marketing strategy before you dump the building?  We will take a look at that by way of explantion next and then we will look at some actual numbers.