Recent disease challenges in the pork industry due primarily to PRRS strains and the effect on production is impacting much of the U.S. pork industry in 2020 and 2021. PRRS breaks continued well into the second quarter of 2021 and will impact performance of pigs and cost of production through year end for much of the industry. According to MetaFarms Production Index, mortality percentage in the Q2 2021 was the highest quarterly average in over ten years for all production phases. At a time when producers’ cost of production is rising quickly, being led by feed costs, the increase in mortality compounds the problem.
MetaFarms data suggests that nursery mortality in Q2 2021 averaged 4.41% compared to 4.03% in the same quarter in 2020. Likewise, finishing mortality averaged 5.25% compared to 4.64% in the prior year. Wean-to-finish data was better than combined nursery and finishing but averaged 6.66% in 2021 versus 6.02% in 2020, a 10.6% increase from the prior year. I believe much of this has to do with issues related to pig management during COVID-19 last year and a surge in disease pressures impacting pigs in 2021. But all that aside, the numbers are a bit alarming, and producers are and should be addressing them today and going forward.
What is the impact of mortality on cost, assuming a $40 weaned pig and breakeven cost of production at 280 pounds of $187.60 ($67/cwt. live)? If that is the cost at a combined mortality of 7.5% for nursery and finishing, at 9.5% mortality the breakeven cost of production increases by $2.85 per head sold or $1.36 per cwt. Obviously, the value of lower mortality is greater at market prices above breakeven.
Pig survivability has been challenged in the first half of 2021 like no time in the last decade, as seen in recent MetaFarms data. The cost to producers has been significant at a time when many, if not all, production costs have been higher than recent years. Making improvement in mortality has to be a key initiative on many farms, a strategy employed to improve the bottom line. Those strategies likely must begin at birth in order to set the stage for impacting the outcome positively.
Source: Kent Bang, Compeer Financial, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.