National Hog Farmer

"Sustainable Culture, Global Vision"

Save the Date

You are Cordially Invited to Attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Novus International, Inc. Global Headquarters.

"Sustainable Culture, Global Vision"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2:00 - 6:00

20 Research Park Drive

St. Charles, MO 63304

RSVP to Lorraine Magney at 314.453.7711

or email

Pork Profit Seminars Announced

The Missouri Pork Association (MPA) is sponsoring a series of three Pork Profit Seminars to be held May 4 in Nevada, May 5 in Marshall and May 6 in Mexico. All three seminars run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Each seminar location will cover topics presented by members of the University of Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program. Topics include:

--Management factors associated with farrowing rate: Beth Young, swine extension specialist;

--Market outlook: Ron Plain, professor of agricultural economics;

--First three days post-farrowing piglet survival: Tim Safranski, associate professor/state swine breeding specialist; and

--Achieving 13 total born and how weaning age plays a role; Safranski.

The seminars are free to pre-registered attendees and include a meal and handouts. Walk-ins will be charged $10 at the door.

For more information or to register go online to Missouri Pork Association or contact the MPA at (573) 445-8375.

National Hog Farmer



New Holland, PA (April 15, 2009) – New Holland Top ServiceSM, the industry-leading program designed to provide New Holland equipment owners with 24/7 after-sales support, has been enhanced to include critical breakdown assistance for BB9000 Series big square balers.

“We’re proud to be able to expand this valuable industry-leading service to our big baler customers,” says Senior Marketing Director David Greenberg. “Many are custom operators, and providing express parts and service support to keep downtime to a minimum is not only critical to the success of their businesses, but also to the success of those many farmers who depend on the custom operators to be reliable suppliers. The value of New Holland Top Service cannot be overestimated.”

Since being introduced in October 2007, New Holland Top Service has provided expedited service and parts assistance on selected tractors and self-propelled harvesting equipment (New Holland’s CR and CX Series combines, HW and H8000 Series windrowers, FR and FX Series self-propelled forage harvesters. and all headers for these models, as well as for TM, T7000, TG, T8000, TJ, and T9000 Series tractors) that are within their base warranty period. This coverage now also extends to BB9000 Series big square balers during their base warranty period.

The New Holland Top Service team includes technical experts, parts and logistics specialists, working in close partnership with the New Holland dealer network, and uses all the resources of New Holland to resolve customer issues quickly. The New Holland Top Service Team resolves the technical issue and finds the needed parts by searching the company’s entire parts stocking system. The parts are express-shipped directly to the New Holland dealer or customer. In the event the part is not immediately available, New Holland dealers can also secure authorization to source parts from their equipment in inventory, provide a back-up machine, or hire a custom harvester at New Holland’s expense to reduce disruptions in critical production periods due to equipment downtime.

In addition to critical breakdown service on selected equipment, New Holland Top Service provides all New Holland customers with industry-leading service, information and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. New Holland customers who have service and product-related issues can contact the New Holland Top Service Team via a toll-free number: 1-866-NEW-HLND (1-866-639-4563).

About New Holland

New Holland is a world leader in agricultural, utility and construction equipment.

New Holland sells and services an innovative and diverse line of tractors as well as hay and forage equipment, harvesting, crop production and material handling equipment.

Sales, parts and service are provided to customers by New Holland dealers throughout the United States and Canada. There are more than 1,100 New Holland dealerships located throughout North America.


For more information, contact:

Gene H. Hemphill, Industry Affairs Manager

Phone: (717) 475-2152

For press release information and photos, visit

National Hog Farmer

TOPIGS genetics: 27.3 weaned piglets per sow per year

Pig farmers with TOPIGS sows achieved an average production of 27.3 weaned piglets per sow per year in 2008. This is an increase of 0.9 piglets compared to 2007. This conclusion has been drawn from the technical results of 1006 farms with a total of almost 415,000 sows.

The top 25% of farms achieved 29.7 weaned piglets per sow in 2008 and the top 10% of farms managed an impressive 30.7 piglets per sow. In 2008, 80 farms weaned more than 30 piglets per sow per year. The absolute top weaned more than 32.5 piglets per sow per year.

For comparison: two years ago, in 2006, just 9 farms exceeded the boundary of 30 piglets.

The increased production is due to an increased litter size. In 2007 this was still 12.8 whereas in 2008 this was 13.1. The litter index remained the same. The results were compiled on the basis of overviews from the sow management system sent in by Dutch sow farmers. Farms with their own breeding that are linked to the TOPIGS Pigbase system also provided information that was included in the overview.

For further information please contact:

Peter Loenen, communication manager TOPIGS

Telephone +31 411 648846

E-mail Peter.Loenen

Canadian Hogs Confound Market Reports

There have been several reports that Canadian-born market hogs are being regularly discounted by U.S. packers. I’m sure that some of those reports are based on fact. But the entire situation is now causing fear that the discounted Canadian-born pigs are dragging down weighted average prices for negotiated and, consequently, swine/pork market formula sales.

How big could the impact be? Not very big, I think, but not zero either. Canadian-born pigs imported 18-22 weeks ago constituted roughly 5% of last week’s slaughter. Negotiated pigs also constituted 5% of last week’s slaughter. It is certain that not all Canadian pigs were sold through negotiated sales. It is more likely that they constitute about the same percentage of negotiated sales that they do of total slaughter – only 5%. If only a portion of those were discounted, their impact on negotiated sale prices would be very small indeed.

Perhaps the larger question is “Why doesn’t USDA just break them out of the report?” In talking to a few people at USDA, I think I have some ideas on that one – and one of them is not “They don’t care.” They do. I believe there may not be much that they can do about it. Consider:

  • Canadian-born and U.S.-fed pigs are reported only by the state they were fed in. There is no reference in the system for the fact that they were born in Canada. Canadian-born-and-fed market hogs are different. They are noted in the reports. But that really doesn’t help much.
  • USDA cannot throw out animals or lots with prices significantly above or below other prices. Recall that the General Accounting Office (GAO) report a few years back hammered USDA for throwing out low-priced lots of cattle? They have never to my knowledge done that with hogs, but I’m sure the market reporters and their superiors are pretty concerned about that criticism. So, if data are reported and there is a very low price or a group of very low prices, the law says they have to include that in the weighted average. This is one of those “Be careful what you ask for” items. One of producers’ major demands of the mandatory price reporting system back in 1999 was “Report all of the prices!” and “We want the entire range of prices reported!” So the law was written to require that and here we are. That doesn’t mean the law was wrong. It just proves that it is very difficult to predict the consequences of legislation and policies.
  • If USDA doesn’t eliminate the prices but simply reports them separately, they basically say that all Canadian-born and U.S.-fed pigs are priced low. But that is not the case. One reason USDA has been slow to move is that some of these pigs have been discounted and others haven’t. There is no consistent pattern and, from what I hear, the low-priced ones have been the minority. Separating the low-priced ones would definitely not be reporting the “market” for those pigs.
  • And what if USDA published that discounted price, what would the Canadians say when they filed their trade case against mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL)? I think “See, there’s the damages,” would be pretty close and pretty damning before a North American Free Trade Agreement or World Trade Organization panel. Again, be careful what you ask for.
I’m not certain but pretty confident that these represent the complications that USDA faces in this situation. I’ve talked to a lot of people over the past few weeks and gathered some information from a lot of them. I think these are pretty close and they certainly make sense.

Figure 1 shows daily hog prices by pricing method through Monday. The negotiated series has been pretty volatile since mid-February. But the direction has not been consistently downward and has not even demonstrated a consistent weekly pattern.

And finally, there is also the very real possibility that the prices of U.S.-born pigs have been increased as packers try to fill their “Product of the U.S.” plants. That doesn’t mean there are explicit premiums being paid, but the fact that some plants have had to find pigs to replace Canadian-born hogs suggest that their bids could certainly have increased a bit. And over 90% of market hogs are still born in the United States. It wouldn’t take much of an increase to result in higher industry-wide income that's not much solace at these price levels, but we must consider both sides of any situation.

Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.

Dealing with Vanishing Pigs

All too often at Swine Management Services (SMS), we find this scenario occurring: the sow farm ships 1,000 weaned pigs and the producer accepts 960 pigs. The 40-pig difference in many systems becomes the vanishing pigs.

These rejected pigs should all be counted against the sow farm’s records. Further, these rejected pigs are entered in the sow farm’s records as dead pigs on a sow weaned that week and later culled. This ensures that the sow farm is held accountable for only shipping top-quality (number 1 pigs), and that the sow farm does not receive a bonus for shipping rejected pigs.

It is also important to hold the receiving producer accountable for rejected pigs which should be euthanized. We have seen a closeout with a negative death loss because the receiving producer only entered 960 pigs received and did not euthanize the rejected pigs.

The only way to hold the receiving producer accountable is by implementing defined counting and grading procedures in all contracts for delivering weaned pigs.

These procedures should include:

  • A time line for grading and reporting back to the sow farm;
  • Identification of who is responsible for counting and grading the pigs and procedures for handling variations in the number of pigs shipped vs. the number of pigs received;
  • Definitions for grading pig defects and how defective pigs are to be handled, kept at a reduced price or euthanized; and
  • A third-party arbitrator for counting and grading issues.
A rigid time line needs to be established for grading the pigs and getting the information back to the pig source. That time line should range from 24 to 72 hours after delivery.

It is important that each person handling the pigs be properly trained in moving the pigs safely and humanely. At each step in the transportation process, the pigs need to be counted and the shipper, trucker and receiver all should be required to sign the paperwork verifying the count.

Pig defects should be classified by whether the defects occurred on the source sow farm and/or they were caused during pig transportation. It is important to define each defect and determine if it is a rejected pig (no value), or a substandard pig with a value set as a percentage of the number 1 pigs.

At SMS, we track defects by the sow farm and by the individual producer receiving the pigs. We then compare all of the producers receiving pigs from the same sow farm. It is not uncommon to see a 2-4% variation in total rejected and substandard pigs from one producer to the next who receives pigs from the same sow farm.

At SMS, we use a calculation for determining the percentage of number 1 pigs shipped. Take the total dollars received for the pigs divided by the price per pig for number 1 pigs. For example: Producer 1 grades 3% substandard pigs and 1% rejected pigs, and Producer 2 grades 1% substandard pigs and 3% rejected pigs. On $40 weaned pigs and $30 substandard pigs, Producer 1 has 98.3% number 1 pigs shipped ($39.30 per pig shipped), and Producer 2 has 96.8% number 1 pigs shipped ($38.70 per pig shipped). Both producers graded 96% number 1 pigs, but the variation in substandard and rejected pigs of 2%, lowers the income to the sow farm by $0.60 on all pigs shipped. These calculations illustrate how pigs are graded affects both parties.

Every group or system has its own way to track and grade pigs. However, it is critical that this process is fair to the sow farm, the person buying the pigs and the employees at the sow farm who get a bonus.

Key Performance Indicators
Tables 1 and 2 (below) provide 52-week and 13-week rolling averages for key performance indicators (KPI) of breeding herd performance. These tables reflect the most current quarterly data available and will be presented with each column. The KPI’s in the tables can be used as general guidelines to measure the productivity of your herd compared to the top 10% and top 25% of farms, the average performance for all farms, and the bottom 25% of farms in the SMS database.

If you have questions or comments about these columns, or if you have a specific performance measurement that you would like to see benchmarked in our database, please address them to: or

Click to view graphs.

Mark Rix and Ron Ketchem
Swine Management Services LLC

Animal ID Dialogue and Listening Tour

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a roundtable discussion with various stakeholders to discuss views on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Secretary Vilsack said, “Much work has been done over the past five years to engage producers in developing an animal identification system that they could support. However, many of the issues and concerns that were initially raised by producers, such as the cost, impact on small farmers, privacy and confidentiality and liability, continue to cause debate.” USDA will conduct a future nationwide listening tour to seek additional stakeholders concerns and solutions regarding NAIS. There is growing concern among key congressional members that USDA has spent millions of dollars on NAIS and there are still a large number of premises that are not even registered.

Agriculture Asks for Resolution of Mexican Truck Issue — Over 140 agricultural organizations and companies wrote President Barack Obama urging him to work “expeditiously to resolve” the Mexican trucking issue that has resulted in tariffs on U.S. exports to Mexico. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program with Mexico was terminated by Congress earlier this year. Opponents of this program have argued that Mexican trucks lack adequate safety.

The United States is now in violation of its bilateral trade obligations with Mexico on international trucking. Mexico instituted retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of U.S. manufactured and agricultural exports. The letter to the President said, “…we strongly urge you to work with Congress and quickly resolve the Mexican trucking issue to end retaliatory tariffs. Until this issue is resolved, Mexico’s retaliation will continue to economically harm U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service providers and those who work in these industries.” Those signing the letter included American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Peanut Council, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Grange, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation and USA Rice Federation.

Obama Eases Restrictions on Cuba — The Obama administration announced it was easing travel restrictions for Cuban Americans and allowing them to send money to relatives living in Cuba. President Barack Obama directed the Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce to:

  • Lift all restrictions on family visits to Cuba;
  • Remove restrictions on remittances;
  • Authorize greater telecommunication links with Cuba; and
  • Revise gift parcel regulations
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said, “The White House’s decision this week to ease travel for Cuban Americans and relax financial restrictions to Cuba is one step closer to easing all trade restrictions with the country. We are very encouraged by President Obama’s actions and appreciate the administration’s prompt action on the issue. In this step-by-step process, the Farm Bureau would also like the administration to consider agricultural provisions.”

Study: 20% Ethanol Causes No Change in Automotive Fuel Systems — A study by the Minnesota Center for Automotive Research at Minnesota State University found that increasing ethanol blended into gasoline from 10% to 20% causes no significant change in the performance of automotive fuel systems. The study included eight models of fuel pumps running each model using one of three different fuels – gasoline, E10 and E20. Pumps with E20 showed less wear than those run with gasoline.

Ethanol and Food Prices — The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a recent report, “The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse – Gas Emissions,” found that ethanol contributed just “0.5 and 0.8 percentage points of the 5.1% increase in food prices” from April 2007 to April 2008. The report said, “Over the same period (April 2007 to April 2008), certain other factors – for example, higher energy costs – had a greater effect on food prices than did the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.”

ACRE Enrollment Opens April 27 — USDA announced that producers can enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program beginning April 27. ACRE is the new option to the traditional counter-cyclical payments provided in the 2008 farm bill. Producers will have until Aug. 14 to make their decision for the 2009 crop. Producers who elect the ACRE program for a farm agree to: 1) forego counter-cyclical payments; 2) accept a 20-percent reduction of the direct payments; and 3) accept a 30-percent reduction in loan rates for all commodities produced on the farm. More information about the ACRE program is available at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices or visit

Congress Returns Next Week — Congress returns next week to a full agenda. Priorities will be the conference report on the budget and to begin the appropriations process for fiscal year 2010. The House Agriculture Committee plans hearings on crop insurance and food safety.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.
National Hog Farmer

Octaform Systems Awarded NSF Certification for Drinking Water – April 2009

Octaform Systems Inc.

520 - 885 Dunsmuir Street Vancouver BC Canada V6C 1N5

T 604-408-0558 ext. 221 F 604-408-0595 Toll Free 1-888-786-OCTA (6282)

Octaform Systems Inc., North America’s leading manufacturer of finished concrete forming systems is proud to announce that it has successfully completed the requirements of the NSF Drinking Water Certification Program.

Octaform Systems Inc. has been providing the construction industry with the highest quality of finished, stay-in-place concrete forming systems since 1997. In addition, Octaform also provides pre-cast and tilt-up single side panels. All products are designed and can be engineered for today’s demanding applications including wastewater, aquaculture, agriculture tanks, vehicle washes, commercial and industrial buildings requiring a clean sanitary finish or a corrosion resistant protective covering. The project portfolio can be viewed at

Acquiring this certification allows Octaform to be used in the growing municipal water treatment facilities. In addition to water treatment plants, Octaform can be utilized in agriculture and food processing facilities that require potable water certification.

One of Octaform’s goals is to provide building products that contribute to the health and safety of our local communities.

NSF/ANSI Standard 61 – Drinking Water Treatment Components – Health Effect is certification that applies to every water contact material, product and system. This standard is required by regulation or policy in 43 of 50 US States and 11 of 13 Canadian Provinces/Territories.NSF is an international, non-profit, non-government certification organization located in Michigan and who supply health and safety based risk management services. NSF is accredited by ANSI, IAS, NELAC and OSHA in the USA and the standard Council of Canada (SCC) in Canada.

For more information, please visit or contact Helen Keohane at 604-408-0558 ext 221 or

National Hog Farmer

Gillis Ag launches EcoDrum Composter; a new product available in the Mid-West

April 13th 2009

Willmar, MN – Gillis Agricultural Systems, Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of a new composter “Ecodrum Composter” available throughout the Midwest. The Ecodrum is a year round controlled system, processing 100% of barn mortalities as well as manure and bedding on site within a short period of time. The cost of owning and operating the Ecodrum is comparable to, and even less than that of other animal mortality management options. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services has recently recognized the value of the Ecodrum Composter making it eligible for grant money as part of their EQIP program in some states.

EcoDrum Benefits and Features

Any animal production operation (e.g.: swine, sheep, poultry, cattle, equine) produces daily mortalities due to weather, natural causes, accidents and/or illnesses. In most countries, the use of incineration or animal-derived protein from on-farm mortalities is no longer acceptable ways to dispose of dead animals and other alternatives are rather costly.

In principle, the Ecodrum can be used to manage any type of animal mortality. However, given the characteristics of the Ecodrum, due consideration should be given by the farm manager to decide whether or not the Ecodrum suits his or her operation. Please note that:

• Although the vessel has been developed having the swine industry in mind, the Ecodrum can be used by any type of animal production as long as the maximum daily capacity is respected

• In the case of cattle and equine operations, the Ecodrum can be used to dispose of maternity mortalities, but keep in mind that many countries require special permits for cattle composting disposal.

• Meat transformation plants and butchers may want to consider the use of the Ecodrum as an environmentally sound way to dispose leftover by-products resulting from their plant operations.

Models and Capacity

There are six models of the Ecodrum currently available:

• The 160 Ecodrum Model is a batch composter with approximately 183 cubic feet of volume and a weekly capacity of up to 1,000 lbs.

• The 260 Ecodrum Model has a capacity 366 cubic ft. This translates into a daily capacity of 370 lbs to process mortalities, a weekly capacity of 2,590 lbs, and a yearly capacity of up to 135,000 lbs.

• The 360 Ecodrum Model has a capacity of 549 cubic feet. This means a daily capacity to process mortalities of 570 lbs, a weekly capacity of 4,000 lbs, and yearly capacity of up to 210,000 lbs.

• The 460 Ecodrum Model has a capacity of 732 cubic feet. This means a daily capacity to process mortalities of 740 lbs, a weekly capacity of 5,180 lbs, and yearly capacity of up to 270,000 lbs.

• The 560 Ecodrum Model has a capacity 915 cubic ft. This translates into a daily capacity of 925 lbs to process mortalities, a weekly capacity of 6,145 lbs, and a yearly capacity of up to 320,000 lbs.

• The 660 Ecodrum Model has a capacity of 1,098 cubic feet. This means a daily capacity to process mortalities of 1,110 lbs, a weekly capacity of 7,770 lbs, and yearly capacity of up to 404,000 lbs.

The sizes and capacity of all Ecodrum models have been designed based on maximum amount of mortality that can be consistently processed into compost in optimal time. Weekly average mortality at a farm under normal operation has also been taken into consideration for the design. For example the 360 and 460 Models are well suited for most hog operations and the 660 Model is well suited for most sizable poultry operations.

Gillis Agricultural Systems, Inc. was founded in 1971 and has offices in Willmar, MN and Storm Lake, IA. The website location is and includes extensive information on the latest innovations in poultry, swine, and dairy production, technical service information, links to industry resources as well as secure on-line ordering for poultry and livestock supplies.

Cargill Reaches Eight Animal Welfare Goals

Cargill Pork announced today that it has achieved eight critical animal welfare assurance goals pertaining to the production, handling, transporting and harvesting of hogs.

On Oct. 1, 2008, Cargill became the first in the industry to institute a policy whereby it will only purchase hogs from farms that have been certified in the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) program. The program sets strict production guidelines for hog production including animal welfare standards.

By December 2008, Cargill Pork’s hog production business completed PQA+ certification site assessments for all of the 450 farms where it has production contracts.

Cargill also committed more than two years ago to widely adopt group housing for gestating sows.

“We decided to take a leadership role in sow housing because we think it’s the right thing to do to support our customers and our brand,” says Cargill Pork President Dirk Jones.

The Minneapolis-based company reports it has achieved its goal of having 50% of contract farms using group sow housing rather than individual gestation stalls for pregnant sows.

“Achieving this objective distinguishes us as a leader among pork companies,” says Jeff Worstell, Cargill Pork vice president for live production and procurement. “As we contract with new grower operations, they too, will need to meet Cargill’s sow housing standards.”

In addition, Cargill has instituted the NPB’s Transportation Quality Assurance (TQA) policy that only truck drivers who are certified in humane handling of livestock are permitted to deliver animals to the company’s plants. The TQA program teaches drivers and livestock handlers on the proper procedures to ensure animal well-being and pork quality.

“It’s straightforward – if a driver isn’t TQA-certified, he’s stopped at our gates,” says Jones. “Federal regulations cover animal handling in our processing plants, but there is no strict oversight of transportation prior to arriving at our plants. We decided to step up and take a leadership role to help ensure that all parts of the supply chain do what is needed.”

Cargill has also required that 20 of its plant animal handling personnel be trained and certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO), the industry group that trains meat plant auditors.

Besides the PAACO training, all Cargill plant employees who handle livestock receive specialized training in humane animal handling. Plant employees each receive about 82 hours of animal welfare training per year. Management staff are required to be TQA certified and supervisors who work with animals in pens are certified instructors in TQA.

“We believe we have created the most comprehensive humane animal handling training and certification program in the industry to ensure that we are being conscientious about the animals under our care and protection,” Jones says.

For more than two years, Cargill has used video monitoring in its plants to help animal welfare management teach and monitor animal handling performance.

Cargill also established a Trucker Recognition Program in March 2008 to honor livestock haulers for individual performance in the proper handling of hogs. This program, in part, has led to a major reduction in the delivery of non-ambulatory hogs to company plants. Cargill provides incentives to truckers for superior performance in hauling healthy livestock to its plants.

An animal rescue program has been added to respond to transportation emergencies. Trailers and teams are ready to respond to truck accidents involving swine transportation. The company is also spearheading a national effort with the Pork Board to make animal rescue a national program.