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Articles from 2019 In April


New Product Tour lives on, though World Pork Expo is canceled

World Pork Expo may be canceled, but the New Product Tour hosted by National Hog Farmer will go on, though in a slightly different format.

The National Pork Producers Council made the decision in early April that World Pork Expo should be canceled this year due to the risk potential of African swine fever reaching American soil and the U.S. pig herd. ASF is currently spreading across China and other Asian countries, as well as Eastern Europe.

Pork industry innovators have been busy this year coming up with a variety of new products to help producers save money and improve efficiency. National Hog Farmer is pleased to offer readers a chance to take a look at the new products, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home. The following gallery shows new products and services recently introduced to the pork industry.

A panel of judges will review the new product nominees, reach a consensus of the finalists, and then “meet” with company representatives through conference calls. This will allow judges to offer you a thorough overview of these products. This overview will appear in the July issue of National Hog Farmer, as well as at NationalHogFarmer.com.

As in the past, you will be able to vote for your favorite new product, one that will be named “Producer’s Choice.” Click here to vote online for your favorite new product offering.

I’ll take my pork at 145 degrees, thank you very much

National Pork Board Perfect pork chop on a fork, cooked to 145 degrees F

Are pork chops on the menu this grilling season? According to new research from University of Illinois meat scientists, pork enthusiasts can improve taste, juiciness and tenderness by cooking chops to the USDA standard: 145 degrees F.

“Pork cooked to 145 degrees is absolutely safe,” says Dustin Boler, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I and co-author of a new study in the Journal of Animal Science. “And our results show that everyday consumers strongly prefer pork chops cooked to 145 over the old standard of 160 degrees.”

Boler and his research team had already demonstrated that trained taste-testers prefer pork chops cooked to 145 degrees, but the team wanted to try their luck with the average consumer this time. Like the trained taste-testers, average consumers were asked to rate juiciness, tenderness, flavor and overall acceptability of pork cooked to 145, 160 and 180 degrees F.

“The results were what we expected: consumers rated juiciness, tenderness and flavor much higher in pork chops cooked to 145 than the other temperatures. These were the first data in consumers that conclusively supported what we knew from our own experience,” says Lauren Honegger, graduate student researcher and lead author on the study.

The research team was able to rule out other confounding factors, as well. Consumers tasted two sets of pork chops: one that varied in pH, and the other that varied in degree of color and marbling.

Boler says meat scientists historically put a lot of stock in pH to predict eating experience. Higher pH equates to higher water-holding capacity in the muscle, which influences juiciness in the final product on the plate. But, he says, the importance of pH was based on pork cooked to the old temperature standard of 160 degrees.

Boler wanted to find out if pH was still as important in the context of today’s cooking standard. The answer? Not really. Consumers still rated chops cooked to 145 as tastier, juicier and more tender than chops cooked to 160, regardless of pH.

“It’s not that pH doesn’t matter, it’s that when we do all of the other things to a pig that appropriately puts pork in a package — when we humanely slaughter that animal, when we appropriately chill that carcass, when we treat those meat products with proper food safety and preparation techniques — then pH doesn’t matter,” Boler says. “In other words, when we prepare the product properly, pH matters less when we cook it to 145 degrees.”

Co-author Anna Dilger, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I, says the story was the same with color and marbling.

“We think darker color and more marbling should lead to a better tasting pork chop, but that’s not what consumers told us. They gave the highest ratings to pork chops cooked to 145, regardless of color and marbling,” she says.

It turns out from other research that color and marbling matter a lot when consumers are choosing which pork chop to purchase, but the consumer panel confirms those qualities don’t factor into eating experience when the chop is cooked to the new standard.

The take-home message for grill masters, Boler says, is, “Get a meat thermometer, cook your pork to 145 degrees, and it’ll be great.”

The article, “Final internal cooking temperature of pork chops influenced consumer eating experience more than visual color and marbling or ultimate pH,” is published in the Journal of Animal Science. Authors include Honegger, Elaine Richardson, Emily Schunke, Dilger and Boler, all from the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the U of I.

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, which is 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.

Canada's African swine fever forum addresses threat to Americas

benoitb-GettyImages The 7th largest pork producer in the world, Canada's hog sector includes over 8,000 hog farms.

Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food welcomed over 150 delegates from 15 countries today to Ottawa, Ontario for an international forum on African swine fever. Recognizing ASF cannot be addressed in isolation, the Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau says the Government of Canada remains steadfast in collaboration with international representatives, industry and the provinces to prevent and mitigate the risk of this animal disease.

“I am committed to continuing Canada’s efforts to prevent the introduction of African swine fever into the country," says Marie-Claude Bibeau. “By working collaboratively, producers, the Canadian public at large and the international community can help to stop the spread of this deadly disease affecting swine populations. We are holding this forum to address a common threat.”

Bibeau provided opening remarks for the forum and was joined by Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Leaders and key decision makers from Canadian and international governments, as well as domestic and international industry stakeholders, aim to develop a framework based on a foundation of science in four areas:

  • Preparedness planning
  • Enhanced biosecurity
  • Ensure business continuity
  • Coordinated risk communications

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Jaspinder Komal, and the CVO for the United States, Jack Shere, are leading the two-day forum to address the risk of ASF that is currently impacting pigs in Europe and Asia.  

“The Forum is an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences to better prevent the entry of ASF in the Americas and to ensure a high state of readiness to swiftly control and eradicate the disease should it enter the region,” Komal says. “Informed discussions around enhanced biosecurity, trade impacts and communications will strengthen our countries’ actions and the effectiveness of our collaborations.”

The forum represents another piece in Canada's proactive and collaborative approach to protecting Canada's fourth largest agricultural sector, which contributes approximately $24 billion to the Canadian economy annually.

In light of the pace at which ASF is spreading through parts of Asia and Europe, the Government of Canada continues taking action to protect its pigs and the economy, including but not limited to:

  • Providing new funding of up to $31 million to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports.
  • Implementing additional import control measures to prevent infected plant-based feed ingredients from ASF-affected countries from entering Canada.
  • Engaging international partners on approaches to zoning, so that trade disruptions can be minimized, should ASF enter Canada.

ASF is a serious viral disease that can cause fever, internal bleeding and high death rates in pigs. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through both direct and indirect contact with infected pigs or pork products. ASF only affects members of the pig family (that is humans cannot contract the disease).

Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who is 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.

NAMI: Working trade agreements with Japan, South Korea crucial

U.S. Meat Export Federation NHF-USMEF-NAMI-Potts-Halstrom-1540.jpg
North American Meat Institute president and CEO Julie Anna Potts and USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom participated in a consumer event highlighting U.S. processed pork products in Seoul, South Korea.

The president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute recently saw firsthand the fierce competition U.S. red meat faces in the Japanese market, which she says underscores the importance of the recently launched U.S.-Japan trade agreement negotiations.

“NAMI is working very hard with the Trump administration to ensure that we move extremely quickly to get a trade agreement between Japan and the United States,” says Julie Anna Potts. “The uncertainty that’s created when other countries have trade agreements with Japan is not a great place for us to be. So we must continue to reassure our trading partners that there is great emphasis on the importance of getting this agreement done as quickly as possible, and that the U.S. industry continues to vigorously compete in the Japanese market.”

In addition to Japan, Potts visited South Korea, another leading destination for U.S. pork and beef. Potts was accompanied by U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO Dan Halstrom and participated in several consumer events, retail promotions and industry meetings arranged by the USMEF. She also received market briefings from U.S. Embassy staff in Tokyo and Seoul.

“The consumer events in Tokyo were very exciting because I was able to interact with retailers and food bloggers, as well as the chefs who prepared U.S. pork and beef,” Potts says. “So those were excellent opportunities to talk directly to consumers and the retailers who supply them about what Japanese consumers look for in red meat products. I was very impressed with what USMEF is doing directly with consumers to grow demand and increase U.S. market share.”

In Korea, where U.S. beef and pork exports have surged and red meat consumption is growing rapidly, the importance of market access was on full display.

“It’s incredibly important that we have working trade agreements with key markets such as South Korea,” Potts says. “KORUS (the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement) is a great example of how the U.S. industry can be much more competitive when we don’t have to deal with tariffs at such high levels.”

In both Japan and Korea, Potts was very impressed with the merchandising of U.S. beef and pork and the promotional efforts coordinated by USMEF staff.

“I just really loved seeing, in multiple retail locations, how beautifully our U.S. beef and pork is presented,” Potts says. “What I observed in the stores was an incredible level of attention to packing and presentation and signage — things that are very, very important to the retail consumer. This drove home the importance of having experienced USMEF staff in these markets who really understand what works and who provide phenomenal service to our industry. I was very pleased to be able to see this in person so that I can speak more knowledgably about it when I’m doing advocacy work back in the United States.”

Potts says that while she has always valued the importance of trade, her time in Japan and Korea gave her a greater appreciation for the outstanding returns red meat exports deliver for the entire U.S. supply chain.

“What we do in these markets, through USMEF, is incredibly important to the U.S. industry,” Potts says. “That cultural exchange, which I’ve now been able to witness firsthand, is just amazing.”

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation, which is 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.

Crisis management: You’re the expert, is your team prepared?

Phil Borgic The fire consumed almost three acres of buildings on Borgic's southwestern Illinois 6,000 breed-to-wean operation.

By Samantha Marais, Swine Safety Designs
Fires, tornados, hurricanes, flooding, disease outbreaks, accidents, shootings, explosions — these are just a few examples of crisis situations. Employee training for these events could literally be the difference between life and death. All companies are susceptible to a crisis, but unlike most other industries, swine producers are under a large amount of scrutiny from the public because the welfare of our animals is involved. 

While discussing crisis management with one of my mentors she made a profound statement regarding swine producers that has stuck with me. “On the scene of a crisis you’ll be surrounded by first responders and media personnel, but you (i.e. swine technician) are the expert.”  Therefore, as the saying goes, it’s best to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

There are four elements that define a crisis: an imminent threat to an organization, an abrupt unpredicted development, a short decision-making period and a process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained. It’s important to have a set of standard operating procedures in place so that your teams know the expectations in the event of a crisis. Update and train on these SOPs often. It’s recommended to include basic personal safety courses as a requirement during employee on-boarding that prepare a new swine technician for crisis situations. 

The U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA require, at a minimum, your SOP must include the following. 

  • A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies. 
  • An evacuation policy and procedure, including the exact locations of assembly. 
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps and safe or refuge areas. 
  • Names, titles, departments and telephone numbers of individuals both within and outside your company to contact for additional information or explanation of duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan. 
  • Procedures for employees who remain to perform or shut down critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers or perform other essential services that cannot be shut down for every emergency alarm before evacuating. 
  • Rescue and medical duties for any workers designated to perform them. 

The SOP should also include what should be done if media approaches and details who is the spokesperson for the company. Remind all handlers that he or she is a visible representative of the company and pork industry, so they should always conduct themselves in a professional manner. 

During a crisis people tend to panic so it’s critical to have designated on-site leaders who “think on their feet” and have the ability to remain level headed, who are responsible for the following. 

  • Assessing the situation to determine what the next immediate steps are. 
  • Supervising all efforts in the area, including evacuating personnel. 
  • Coordinating outside emergency services, such as medical aid and local fire departments, and ensuring that they are available and notified when necessary. 
  • Directing the shutdown of operations and utilities such as electrical, gas and water when required. 

When building and/or implementing a crisis management plan it has got to be consistent, precise and easy for teams to follow. Always evoke “people first.” Although it can be demoralizing for team members to have to leave pigs behind, human safety is the top priority. Once all humans have been accounted for you can shift focus to your herd. Upon being hired, caretakers should be trained on how to handle any loose or injured animals, as soon as it is safely possible to attend to them. This assists you in ensuring proper humane treatment during a crisis event. 

How you initially approach the crisis will set the tone for your teams; carefully construct in-house statements intended to boost the morale of the staff and how you plan to handle mass death loss. It’s a good idea to acknowledge that you’re somber about the herd — it will bridge an emotional connection for those who may be grieving.  

During a crisis the last thing you want is to have employees making assumptions about whether they’re still employed, so put rumors to bed as quickly as possible. Remain transparent, even if you don’t have a definitive answer, keep your employees in the know. If veteran employees leave because of absent communication, assuming a lack of job security, you may find yourself having to hire and train new employees. This may prove to be near impossible, and likely unsuccessful in the long-term.  

It’s a fact that social media platforms, such as, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram play a tremendous role in today’s society. It’s recommended to address this upon hiring, whether it’s by a confidentiality agreement, prohibiting recording devices within the farms or attempting to control the types of content one shares with the public eye. The last thing you want to be dealing with during a crisis is negative attention that stemmed from a social media post by an employee.  

Ensure your teams understand and agree to follow the policies you have in place about posting on social media. Remember social media can easily be a direct gateway to connections with animal rights groups. Unfortunately, the reality is producers should plan ahead on how to handle potentially scarring allegations from activists. Regardless of how well you handle it, they will likely try to paint a story that is unflattering. After extensive research on the topic, the best advice I can give are the following. 

  • Be diligent during the interview process to avoid hiring an individual with their own agenda to infiltrate your operations. 
  • Ensure all caretakers are trained, understand and follow only humane treatment guidelines. 
  • Remain professional, honest and focus the explanation, then resolution of the circumstances that have gained their attention.  ​​​

Companies are often remembered for their crisis response years after the fact. It’s so critical to “expect the unexpected” so you don’t get caught without preparation. Providing proper crisis training will assist you in employee safety, crisis prevention, reputation control, staff dedication, production flow, faster crisis resolution and company integrity.  

Source: Samantha Marais of Swine Safety Designs, who is 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.

MORNING Midwest Digest, April 30, 2019

There's a terror-recruiting problem in Minnesota.

There wasn't much done as far as planting progress in the past week. Many states are behind average pace.

A jet carrying more than 60 veterans took off for Washington to see the memorials. It was an Honor Flight.

 

Photo: zabelin/Getty Images

Farm Progress America

Farm Progress America, April 30, 2019

Max Armstrong remembers Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who passed away over the weekend. Lugar was a powerful player in developing farm policy, including the Conservation Reserve Program, which as actually announced on his farm for the 1985 Farm Bill. Lugar served on the Ag Committee for his entire career.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Leigh Vogel/contributor/Getty Images

How do you manage hog margins in a high-volatility market?

iStock/Getty Images Plus/Artur Market volatility illustration

Recent volatility in the hog market has been both a blessing and a curse for producers trying to navigate the current environment as they evaluate risk management decisions. On the one hand, profitability projections are as strong as they have been since the porcine epidemic diarrhea year in 2014, in some cases exceeding what was available at this point of the year for those particular periods. Assuming hog prices and feed costs stay at these levels into next year, the industry looks to be extremely profitable.

On the other hand, there is massive uncertainty surrounding the extent and duration of potential additional pork exports to China as well as whether or not African swine fever eventually spreads to the United States. This uncertainty has sharply raised volatility in the hog market, which has led to a surge in the cost of option premium for producers.

While hog producers realize the opportunities that currently exist to capture forward profitability and are keen to protect margins following a difficult market throughout 2018 into early 2019, they understandably are concerned over the potential for further price increases. Recent industry estimates suggest that China’s pork production this year could drop 30% from 2018, with the extent of that loss 30% larger than the annual production in the United States. Moreover, it has also been mentioned that the regional fallout will take years to correct, making this a long-term structural issue that will disrupt global trade and the supply chain. Figures 1-3 show the current projections for forward hog margins in the third and fourth quarters of this year, and the first quarter of 2020 relative to the past 10 years.

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen Third quarter hog margins are very high, only 2014 was higher

Third quarter hog margins are very high, only 2014 was higher

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen Fourth quarter margins higher than in 2014 at this time, though still below the eventual high in July.

Fourth quarter margins higher than in 2014 at this time, though still below the eventual high in July.

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen 2020 first quarter margin is just shy of 2015 high

2020 first quarter margin is just shy of 2015 high

Sky high option volatility
The surge in projected margins from mid-March into mid-April due to a sharp rally in hog futures that was partially aided by a concurrent drop in in feed costs, also accompanied a significant increase in hog option volatility. Looking at the December Lean Hog Futures contract, implied volatility recently spiked to 45% and close to the near-50% levels achieved in 2009, 2016 and 2018. It should be pointed out that in those years, the spikes occurred much later and closer to expiration. Also, notwithstanding the 1998 December hog market when option volatility spiked to over 60% during the extreme price meltdown in that year’s fourth quarter, 50% has historically been the peak for implied volatility in December hog options (see Figures 4 and 5).

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen 2019 December Lean Hog option implied volatility versus past 10 years

2019 December Lean Hog option implied volatility versus past 10 years

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen December Lean Hog option implied volatility (1996-present)

December Lean Hog option implied volatility (1996-present)

Certainly part of this year’s spike in volatility can be attributed to the sharp move in futures from early to mid-March. The June contract ran $20 per hundredweight from around $75 to $95 in the span of just two weeks, as the market adjusted to new information quickly. The move was similar to a run-up in the 2014 market, when June futures rallied from around $110 to over $130 in a comparable span of time between late-February and mid-March (see Figures 6 and 7).

As a result of the increased volatility, option premiums have become much more expensive. As an example, December hog at-the-money options are currently trading over $10 per hundredweight. Even August hog options that are closer to expiration carry at-the-money premiums over $8 per hundredweight. These are about double what they were prior to the volatility spike in March, when option volatility was already quite expensive within a historical context.

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen June 2019 Lean Hog Futures price chart

June 2019 Lean Hog Futures price history chart

Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC/Chip Whalen June 2014 Lean Hog Futures price chart

June 2014 Lean Hog Futures price history chart

Risk management implications
With strong forward profit margins that extend well into 2020 and following on what was a very poor period for profitability over the past year, reducing risk in this environment is prudent. The best way to go about that however is complicated to say the least. Ideally, a hog producer could simply purchase puts on their projected production to place a floor under the market, leaving all the upside open to hopefully achieve windfall profits if prices continue surging higher. The problem with that is the significant cost associated with retaining that much flexibility.

Using December as an example, the $10 per hundredweight cost of an at-the-money option is currently more than half the actual margin that is there to protect. Given this prohibitive cost, producers are exploring ways to strike a balance between keeping upside opportunity open while also protecting downside risk.

Some may still feel that buying puts outright makes sense in the present environment, and there is certainly room for volatility to increase further. Also, if the puts are for a deferred production period, there is sufficient time to eventually reduce that expense by selling other options against those puts to create lower-cost spreads. The problem, though, is that implied volatility is already high, so if you are just buying puts, you are purchasing an inflated asset that could see its value erode quickly if the volatility begins to come out of the market. So, while buying outright puts on a portion of one’s production probably makes sense, it maybe shouldn’t be the only alternative considered.

One thing to keep in mind is how strong margins are currently projected within a historical context. At the 95th percentile of the previous 10 years, hog producers have only made more money than this around 5% of the time over the past decade. This is significant and should not be overlooked. Perhaps it would be wise to just take these strong margins on a portion of one’s forward production and eliminate that risk altogether. You might simply ask yourself what percentage of your production is OK to accept current margins on, and remove that piece of risk from the total exposure pool.

As another example, some producers may want to put a floor underneath the current market and may be OK with giving up some of the current margin to maintain opportunity for higher prices to a degree. By accepting a cap or price ceiling above the market, they can assure themselves a floor that will still allow a profitable margin to be realized in a worst-case scenario, but allow for stronger margins in a best-case outcome. Again, this might apply to a portion of the overall production, but not the whole thing.

A lower cost way still might be to only protect a range of lower prices below current levels while also accepting a price cap above the market. The benefit with this approach is that it might allow a producer to start the protection closer to the market, and/or use a higher cap for their ceiling. It also takes advantage of the high volatility environment by receiving more credits from selling options. Here also, this would probably be appropriate for some but not all of one’s total risk exposure.

Finally, some might be fine selling at current price levels, but want to retain opportunity for prices to continue rising further. Here, a producer might consider buying call options against a portion of their sales in the futures market or the cash market to create some degree of participation in higher prices. The call options might be purchased “out of the money” such that the upside participation doesn’t begin right away, but kicks in should a significantly higher price outcome eventually be realized. The benefit with this approach is that a producer might feel more comfortable locking in a larger percentage of their production with the margins that are currently available, knowing that some of this production will be open to participate in a sharply higher market.

Portfolio approach to risk management
What this amounts to from a practical standpoint is using a mix of different contracting alternatives to protect current margins. This spreads the risk that any one price or margin outcome will negatively impact profitability if a variety of different strategies are employed at the same time. Just like a portfolio manager will use a mix of stocks, bonds and cash to construct an asset allocation that allows an investor to realize their long-term goals, this approach to risk management might be a good way to hedge against different outcomes or scenarios.

If volatility plummets, having part of the risk management portfolio comprised of futures or cash sales along with short volatility option positions will limit the damage from the portion that consists solely of long puts or call options purchased against futures. If volatility continues to rise, the portion of the portfolio consisting of outright long options will benefit. From a price standpoint, having a decent percentage of one’s production floored will guard against a sharply lower price scenario, such as in the event of an ASF outbreak in the United States. At the same time, leaving upside open on a percentage of the total production will hedge against a higher price outcome in a sharply rising market.

In the investing world, passive strategies have become very popular, such as index funds that track the broader performance of the market against a benchmark like the S&P 500. Some investors will allocate a portion of their stock portfolio to simply track the market, while allocating other strategies to sectors of the market they feel will outperform given the current point of the economic cycle. Perhaps staying open on a portion of one’s production might also be a choice within a risk management portfolio, such that the performance of this piece will track whatever the market eventually does.

One good question to ask in deciding on the balance of various strategies that would work best for your particular operation is this: “what percentage of your production do you want to have floored (to secure current profitability), and what percentage are you comfortable having capped?” This certainly does not have to be the same number, but answering that question can go a long way to helping you determine what mix of strategies may be a good fit for your particular goals and circumstances. While the current market environment definitely presents challenges in managing risk, the good news is that there are strong margins to manage, and this reality should not get lost in the discussion.

For more help on evaluating specific strategy alternatives or to review your operation’s risk profile, contact us or your market adviser.

There is a risk of loss in futures trading. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Source: Chip Whalen of Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC, who is 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.

Cooper Farms cuts ribbon on Grand Republic Sow Farm

Cooper Farms NHF-Cooper_Farms_Grand_Republic_1540.jpg
From left: Alan Evers, Athena Brown, Eric Ludwig, Jacob VanCleve, Dianne Cooper, Kevin Stuckey, Jim Cooper, Luke Cooper and Terry Wehrkamp.

Cooper Farms has opened its first hog farm in Williams County, Ohio. Home to just under 6,000 sows, Grand Republic Sow Farm will provide 20 new full-time jobs and use over 180,000 bushels of corn purchased from local farmers each year.

“We have had the opportunity to grow our hog division, which led us to the construction of this new sow farm,” says Jim Cooper, CEO. “We will also be working with over 30 local farmers to raise the hogs from this farm.”

Grand Republic utilizes group pen gestation for sow housing and an electronic feeding system. This system allows the sows to have free movement in a group setting, while providing individualized feeding information about each sow. The electronic tags will provide information about how much each sow is eating and drinking, allowing the farm team to still tend to sows’ individual needs.

“This farm has a real focus on efficiency and animal care,” says Kevin Stuckey, Sow Division manager. “New technology and small design changes throughout the farm will make a big difference.”

The farm will be landfill-free upon construction completion and design adjustments have been made throughout the farm to improve energy efficiency. For the safety of team members, scales have been built into the legs of the feed bins, allowing the mill to know feed volumes without having someone climb a bin.

As always, Cooper Farms aims to work with local businesses and contractors as they construct the farm. Over 30 contractors took part in the construction of Grand Republic.

An open house and ribbon cutting were held Friday, April 26, and on Monday, April 29, the farm opened its doors to area schools as nearly 200 FFA members toured Grand Republic.

Source: Cooper Farms, who is 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.