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A simple nipple design for better water flow

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz Crystal Spring’s Tom McAdams explains the research and development that went into the company’s nipple to New Product Tour panel members Erik Potter, Pat Thome, Joseph Darrington and Aaron Lower.

“It’s hard to get excited about something so simple, but it’s a good idea,” says New Product Tour Judge Joseph Darrington, South Dakota State University engineer. “It’s unconventional, but they came up with a good design, good fluid mechanics.”

Darrington is talking about the Crystal Spring Hog Equipment nipple, the only nipple engineered specifically for wet-dry feeders.

Crystal Spring has worked with wet-dry feeders for over 35 years, and Tom McAdams, Crystal Spring production and inside sales manager, says they felt confident with the progress they had made with development of the water nipples over time.

“As hog production evolves, we see really, really small wean-to-finish pigs, isowean, we get 8-pound pigs coming in [to the barn]. We’ve seen different rations, different ingredients coming in, and when you mix water, or too much water, it becomes hard to manage,” he says. The Crystal Spring team went back to work to resolve that challenge. Getting the pigs off to a good start in the first two to three weeks is important, but also, managing that water flow over the life of the animal is essential for the wet-dry feeder’s performance.

“What we found is that if you don’t manage the water properly you turn that feeder into a dry feeder, and you lose all the benefits that you paid for, as well as it might not be enough feed space, so it’s pretty critical to get it right,” McAdams says. Managing water flow to a single wet-dry feeder can be challenging, but managing a consistent water flow over the full length of a barn can be an even bigger challenge, and Crystal Spring set out to resolve those issues.

A two- to three-year project resulted in the development of two different silicone inserts in the nipple unit to adapt it to various water pressures and barn configurations. At 50 pounds per square inch of water pressure, the green insert produces a maximum flow of about 4.8 cups per minute, while the orange insert produces a maximum to 7 cups per minute.

“Now with the Shore, or malleability, of the silicone, we are able to change what kind of flow we get,” he says. “This is the start of something new. We don’t want to come out here and say we got this 100% right, but it’s a way that we can, with the wet-dry feeder design around the functionality, enhance the design of the feeder. This gives us a foundation for innovation, not necessarily a final innovation.”

McAdams says these nipples increase the operating window of pressures to optimize gain with wet-dry feeders, simplifying feeder management, reducing water and feed waste, and eliminating the need for a second pressure regulator in the barns.

A special nipple is also available for use in barns with gravity-flow water pressure, more commonly seen in some international markets where Crystal Spring also has a significant market. Nipples specific for sows are also available.

“If it’s a patented product, and if it works, I think there’s a place for it,” says Pat Thome, Minnesota hog producer. “There are a lot of wet-dry feeders out there.”

New Product Tour judges wondered aloud how the nipples will stand up in conditions with water that may have extra hardness and other particulates that may cause plugging.

In response, McAdams says, “The nipple is designed with a filter system that prevents small particles and impurities that exist in water and barn pipes from clogging the nipples. The filter system is also designed to allow medications to flow through the nipples as necessary.”

All in all, Darrington says, “It’s a solid design.”

For more information on the Crystal Spring nipples, contact Tom McAdams or visit

Continuous, reliable ammonia measuring

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz Lyle Jones, Big Dutchman vice president of sales for the United States, extols the benefits the Dol 53 will provide for the health of hogs and hog producers with continuous measuring of ammonia concentration in barns.

Air quality in hog barns is of great concern, both for the safety of employees and of the animals in the barn. Extended exposure to ammonia has been proven to cause respiratory issues in humans and livestock, contributing to chronic health problems for barn employees and reduced performance for the pigs.

Big Dutchman’s Dol 53, developed by Dräger, is able to continuously read ammonia levels and provide real-time data. It has been designed especially to be used in livestock facilities, with robust electrochemical sensors that can withstand the environment inside a livestock barn. Even in the presence of fluctuating temperatures, humidity, methane, CO2 and hydrogen sulphide, the Dol 53 provides clear and continuous readings for ammonia levels. The Dol 53 has been tested in the laboratory and in livestock barns, and has proven time after time to stand up to this harsh environment where other sensors could not. Optimum operation is achieved in temperatures ranging from zero to 50 degrees C and between 15% and 95% humidity.

Ammonia concentrations are measured between zero and 100 parts per million, with an accuracy of 1.5 ppm or ± 10% of the measured value.

The Dol 53 was designed to integrate seamlessly into already functioning livestock barns; it uses a 0- to 10-volt interface like other conventional sensors and can be installed directly into the barn environment. Once connected, it will begin transmitting continuous and real-time readings of ammonia levels. The Dol 53 can be used in conjunction with Big Dutchman’s new 307pro climate computer to automatically manage ammonia levels in the barn.

Even without upgrading to an automated computer, producers can use the Dol 53 to monitor ammonia levels and determine for themselves the best ammonia management methods. By experimenting with temperature and air circulation producers can, as never before, see the results of these methods clearly, in real-time, without relying on rudimentary environmental indicators, such as smell.

Advantages at a glance
■ exact and continuous measuring of the NH3 concentrations in the barn air
■ measuring range covers concentrations typical for livestock production
■ easy integration into existing barns and their climate control systems
■ robust and reliable
■ easy to install
■ analog 0- to 10-volt output

New uses and applications for this product are conceivable in all areas where constant ammonia monitoring is useful and necessary. The Dol 53 is a product that will drive future innovations as more computers are developed to integrate ammonia management into their controls and other useful applications are discovered.

The uniqueness of the DOL 53, compared to conventional methods, is that the DOL 53 is able to withstand continuous exposure to ammonia inside barns while producing continuous data, whereas the highly perishable nature of conventional ammonia sensors means they are used only periodically and need to be replaced after only a few readings.

Aaron Lower, veterinarian and New Product Tour panel member, says, “This sensor gives the caregiver objective data, as a way to set minimum ventilation of the barn.”

Pat Thome, Minnesota hog producer on the panel, says, “This is kind of icing on the cake. If we can get the feed right, and the temperature right, and minimum ventilation right, if we’re managing to that level, boy, we’ve really done a good job.”

For more information on the Big Dutchman Dol 53, contact Lyle Jones, 217-652-2522 or visit

Remove dead sows safely

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz New Product Tour judge Joseph Darrington takes a spin on the Hercules’ Arm under the guidance of Gary Desmarais, Ro-Main national and international business development.

Hog producers never want to have to remove mortalities from their barns, but it is inevitable that losses will occur. Removal of mortalities can be difficult, and even dangerous, for barn employees, especially if the dead animal is a market-weight hog or a multi-parity sow.

Ro-Main’s redesigned Hercules’ Arm, with a new, low-maintenance dual motor providing variable speed, allows a single producer or barn hand to easily remove even the largest sows effortlessly and safely from the barn.

Seeing is believing
Gary Desmarais, in national and international business development with Ro-Main, pointed to a video playing in the company’s booth during World Pork Expo. In the video, a petite woman easily removes a large deceased sow from a farrowing stall. 

The 20-inch width and 42-inch length of the Hercules’ Arm allows ease of movement in what can be tight quarters in a farrowing room. The ¼-inch, stainless-steel winch cable and 5,500-pound winch, with vertical mast that can extend from 74 inches to a maximum height of 98 inches, allows the removal of an 800-pound sow with ease. In addition to being able to extend the boom length, it also tilts to optimize its operation for improved stability while moving a dead animal. The mast can also pivot 180 degrees for a safer straight-line removal of the animal. There is an articulated model for the tightest corners. In addition to variable speeds, the Hercules can maneuver forward and in reverse. The operator has complete control of the unit perched on a platform at the rear with the twist-grip throttle, winch control button and emergency stop button all within reach.

Other features include:
■ Hearse motor: 24 volts
■ two rechargeable gel batteries (12 volts)
■ built-in battery charger: 24 volts
■ safety arm
■ built-in motor brake
■ silicone-filled, flat-proof tires

Desmarais said the first model was built in 2003, and many producers have come to their booth saying that their 10-plus-year-old Hercules’ arm is still running great and has saved many back injuries. The company is always listening to customer-farmers for ways to improve the product.

New Product Tour panelists wondered how well the Hercules’ Arm would work in a group housing pen, when there are a large number of sows present. Desmarais said the operator is key to introducing this foreign piece of equipment into the group pen environment, and “a big plus for the Hercules is that it is a quiet-moving piece of equipment.” Ro-Main also offers the Porky’s Pick-Up XL, which allows for sow removal without ever having to touch the carcass.

Pat Thome, the hog producer on the New Product Tour, likes the safety factor offered. “This is great for worker safety; that type of tool is a must-have on a sow farm.”

Aaron Lower, New Product Tour veterinarian, put this product in logistical context. “On a sow farm if you have to remove a dead sow, it will take two people a half hour, so this would cut it down to one person and do it more quickly. And then you have the safety and strain factor … if you have to move four dead sows in a day.”

Desmarais also addressed panelists’ concerns about operation on uneven surfaces. Both wheels can be locked, allowing both wheels to work in unison. “When the Hercules’ Arm arrived at the booth, it was on a wooden pallet, and I had no problem getting it down from there,” he said. “If the lip is too high, then maybe a small ramp is in order for safety.”

Tour judge Erik Potter, an Iowa State University Extension swine specialist who has worked with the Common Swine Industry Audit, said a component in the CSIA says mortality removals are a big issue. “They want it done daily and timely,” he said, and the Hercules’ Arm would allow that.

For more information, contact Rejean Bouchard at 418-803-8037 or visit

Become a champ with benchmark dashboard

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz PigCHAMP’s Jayne Jackson explains how quickly producers can modify the Knowledge Center dashboard to offer a glimpse of the production attributes important to them. New Product Tour panel member Aaron Lower looks on.

Hog producers are inundated with information to help them make the best management decisions for their operation, but sometimes that avalanche of data can get overwhelming.

“Today we print out the performance summaries, etc., and circulate them around, and everyone spends time looking at the raw data,” says Aaron Lower, veterinarian on the New Product Tour panel. “Some people make decisions off of it, but we spend a lot of time looking at data without really looking for signals.”

PigChamp is now providing a web-based service enabling users to access benchmarking, statistical process control charting and dashboard gauges to help producers wade through myriad data, taking benchmarking to a new level by allowing for the comparison of key industry attributes against the global PigChamp database, by size, geography, parity or operation.

Jayne Jackson, PigChamp product and sales manager, says the PigChamp benchmarking and ranking features are free to current PigChamp producers, and will allow producers access to 20 years’ worth of PigChamp production data. There will be a six-month trial for the dashboard, but eventually it will become a fee feature.

Producers will be able to make comparisons of their own data against larger data sets provided by other producers to benchmark their performance against competitors or similar operations. In addition to ranking features, benchmarking can be done on a global level, providing users with an even larger picture.

“You can select your individual farm, but if you’re an integrator, or someone who has multiple farms within your organization,” Jackson explains, “you can take your farm group and compare it with our data-set.” Once the Knowledge Center goes live, Jackson says data from 1 million sows will be available. Automated, aggregated data will be uploaded. A gradual rollout to PigChamp users will occur over the remainder of this year and into 2018.

Being web-based, the Knowledge Center allows producers to monitor farm productivity with easy-to-use gauges and SPC charts from anywhere they are connected through computer or tablet. It is anticipated that smartphone capabilities will be part of a future phase.

The ability to set up a dashboard to present key production attributes allows producers to get a quick glimpse, “just telling me when things are out of control,” Lower says. “Then the farm can really concentrate on the things they need to be looking at.”

The Knowledge Center provides the ability to create a personalized dashboard (for a six-month trial) where users can choose several production attributes to automatically populate on their home page with the information, charts and graphs that are most useful to them. Regularly referenced reports, SPC charts, benchmark summaries and custom targets will allow producers to make real-time decisions for each individual farm.

The PigChamp Knowledge Center offers several unique features to users including:
■ easy access by anyone in the organization via the web, no matter their location
■ ability to compare data globally by various demographics
■ live performance analysis through a customizable dashboard
■ access to the database for allied industry, academia and other industry parties for information related to their respective interests

Jackson says the current Knowledge Center is looking at sow production numbers, while Phase 2 will be including grow-finish production data.

Though benchmarking is free to current PigChamp clients, non-PigChamp users will be able to benefit from the extensive database, but for a fee.

For more information, visit or contact Jayne Jackson, 866-774-4242, ext. 27, or

Fast Start Feeder gets producer backing

National Hog Farmer/Sarah Muirhead National Hog Farmer Staff Writer Kevin Schulz (red shirt) presents the Osborne team with a commemorative print from the 2017 World Pork Expo, honoring them as this year’s recipient of the Producers’ Choice award.

Not all products in the New Product Tour can make the list of finalists — only eight of the 31 nominees made the final list.

Even more elite is that only one product can receive the Producers’ Choice Award, as people could vote online prior to the World Pork Expo or cast a ballot during the show at the National Hog Farmer booth. Osborne’s Fast Start Wean-to-Finish Feeder came out as the fan favorite.

Osborne’s Fast Start Feeder is an answer to the age-old problem of designing a feeder that is capable of feeding newly weaned pigs, and yet prevents the excessive feed waste that occurs as pigs grow.

The Fast Start Feeder combines gravity-flow feed delivery with mechanical-flow feed delivery, which saves feed and ensures freshness. The conversion of the feeder from gravity to mechanical flow is done automatically by the animals, without human intervention. This automated feature allows pigs to grow from wean to finish on a single feeder without adjustments, labor or wasted feed.

Producers benefit because the labor required with the constant monitoring and adjusting of traditional gravity-flow feeders is substantially reduced. Once in mechanical-flow mode, pigs — not gravity — operate the feeder, keeping feed waste so low that nearly all feed disappearance can be equated to consumption.

On receiving the Producers Choice Award, Jim Hindman, Osborne’s marketing representative, said, “As an employee-owned company, receiving this award is really important to all of our employee owners.”

Amy Conrad, sales and marketing manager with Osborne, agreed, saying that “this award is validation that we developed a product that producers want.”

HouseLink provides eyes and ears in barn

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz Herdstar President Mark Jaeger (white shirt) explains to the New Product Tour panel how producers are using the HouseLINK system to better their recordkeeping for their operation.

Try as they might, hog producers and their barn staff cannot be in all places at all times, especially if farms do not employ staff around the clock.

Herdstar has created the HouseLink system that allows producers to have their barns’ operations at their fingertips, even though they may be miles away. The HouseLink Text Message Interface is one of six members of the HouseLink family. This one connects BinTrac to users via text message, while the others connect BinTrac to various house and barn controls.

The HouseLink Text Message Interface is able to send bin weight, feed usage and fill events along with temperature and water usage to users via text message. “Part of the remote monitoring capabilities works into your biosecurity plan so you can check levels without having someone having to go outside of the barn to check the feed bins,” says Herdstar President Mark Jaeger. “Safety also comes into play as no one has to climb the feed bins either.”

The HouseLink Text Interface requires the BinTrac bin weighing system to be effective. The basic system with the HouseLink Text Interface provides an economical way to get the data. Many producers will upgrade to the web-based solution as the need for historical data and reporting becomes necessary.

Up to two telephone numbers can be programmed to receive scheduled text notifications twice a day of feed levels, high and low temperatures, average temperatures, and water usage. Jaeger says unscheduled texts will be sent to the two phone numbers in the event of a feed delivery or other feed line issues. In the event of a power outage, notification will be sent that an outage has occurred, as well as notification once the power has been restored.

Erik Potter, New Product Tour panelist, says he likes “that it sends out text messages” to keep producers informed.

Jaeger says some producers have programmed in their feed mill to receive current feed levels from the site. This allows the feed mill to place orders without the need to contact the site.

The HouseLink is an economical solution for a site with up to three barns, Jaeger says, but above that producers would be advised to move into Herdstar’s Enterprise system.

The introductory price of the HouseLink Text Interface is $499. Herdstar manages the cellular connection through the wireless carrier for a small subscription fee. Producers that require more in-depth data can connect to, the web-based solution Herdstar provides. Producers may also get their data directly from the database through a view or other application programming interface.

Jaeger says Herdstar has diligently worked to correct the perception that had existed in the industry regarding unreliable data generated from bin scale systems. “We’re getting that data out there that’s reliable,” by building Herdstar’s BinTrac system.

Cost entry can be a prohibitive factor to producers adopting any new technology, but panelist Aaron Lower thinks “this product is an opportunity to try to get cost entry down for a relatively basic system.”

Herdstar requires the user to install one HouseLink Text Interface per indicator or barn. If a site has a single barn with one indicator, the user would purchase one HouseLink Text Interface to receive the data for the bins feeding the barn.

Lower sees this product as a way to remove human error, “really taking the caregiver out of it.”

Hog producer panelist Pat Thome sees this system as an extension of the producer, especially during the summer. “I see the value of this when you have long weekends, with Memorial Day and Labor Day” when producers do try to get away from the farm for a respite.

For more information, contact, 507-344-8005, or visit

Flash-forward using the Provimi pig model

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz Provimi’s David Bauer (center) demonstrates the functionality of the Pig Flash Model platform to the New Product Tour panel of judges (clockwise from top) Pat Thome, Aaron Lower, Erik Potter and Joseph Darrington.

Hog production would be a lot easier if producers had a crystal ball to look into the future.

Provimi’s Pig Flash Model is a real-time diagnostic that allows producers to monetize complex feeding strategies in a side-by-side comparison, allowing them to make faster and more profitable management and production decisions. The ability to compare variations in the feed budget, health status and even ingredient quality differences is allowing producers to make short- and long-term production comparisons.

“As the pork industry continues to become more competitive and consolidate, I think it becomes more important for us, as providers of goods and services to the producers in this industry, to provide solutions that match with that,” says David Bauer, Provimi digital solutions specialist.

The Pig Flash Model is a digital solution that is revolutionizing the ways producers are able to analyze and compare various high-impact factors of hog production. The strength of the Pig Flash Model lies in the ability to dig deep into key production factors that impact producer profitability, and bring that together with Provimi’s expertise in nutrition and production practices, “enabling us to provide a more in depth, economic comparison of the day-to-day decisions hog producers make,” Bauer says. “Greater value, through better nutrition and production management decisions, while also providing real-time, forward margin analysis.”

Price discovery in the Pig Flash Model is driven by CME futures prices for corn, meal and hogs, each applied to a basis. “In the base-model we use a three-year Iowa State average basis to establish cash hogs,” Bauer says, “and an average central U.S. basis for corn and meal.” Basic price information is built into every model, and then Provimi representatives ask customers the question: “OK, how can we customize these data inputs to best represent your business?”

“We then adjust each model with a customer’s historical cash basis, their historical packer grade-and-yield premium or discounts, along with specific production and performance data, such as actual start and end weight, as well as performance statistics that all reflect their specific feed budget, and this highlights how much feed is needed,” Bauer says. Once actual or closeout information is known, a comparison begins to take shape. The model can compare approximately 30 data points from production and performance statistics to financial summary details.

“This isn’t just another crush model,” Bauer says. “The real power of the Pig Flash solution is uncovered as producers begin to compare their actual performance against their initial targets, to see if there is money being left on the table. … You may see a health issue in the herd that may cost a buck-and-a-half per pig to fix, but you can then project, after a medication program is implemented and your herd health is brought back under control, that it could net two bucks profit. So it can help us pin-point a performance deficiency, and then put a net value on the solution. The Pig Flash Model helps us engage in the customer dialogue, while also being able to put a value on production and nutrition changes.”

Bauer says that not only does the model have the ability to give a producer an idea of future profitability based on the cost of placing a pig today, “but it’s a diagnostic tool that allows us to weigh all cost against net revenue projections and see if it’s even worth it.”

“It’s hard to predict the future,” says Erik Potter, Extension swine specialist on the New Product Tour panel, “but if you can see where you can make an advantage in your operation, it could be a great tool.”

As producers adjust the weight, mortality, cull and various nonfeed costs specific to their business, the model will provide customized cost and revenue projections.

“The Pig Flash Model isn’t necessarily providing you with the answer,” Bauer says. “Pig Flash Model facilitates the discussions that our nutritionists and specialists like to have with their producers.”

Pat Thome, hog producer on the New Product Tour panel, says, “It’s a good starting point to find out where your breakevens are, where your opportunities are to lower those breakevens.” 

To learn more, visit or contact Chris Steiner, 937-770-2400.

Hose reel the real deal

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz Hydro Engineering’s team gives the New Product Tour panel the rundown of the improvements made for the release of the HR128AG manure applicator hose reel.

Manure application is usually done under the gun — in the spring before a crop is being planted or in the fall after a crop has been removed from farm fields. Either way, time is of the essence — get done so the planters can roll, or beat the flying snow and frozen ground that follows. You do not want to spend a lot of time unrolling and rolling drag hose, a job that usually has taken two people.

Pat Thome, New Product Tour panelist who uses a hose system on their Adams, Minn., operation, says loading and unloading hose is a big time-eater. “You can only pump so fast, but if you can save time unrolling and rolling up hose, that’s big.”

Hydro Engineering has answered that call with its HR128AG hose reel, which provides liquid manure application technology that is both innovative and easy to operate. The hose reel’s hydraulic articulating hitch and Danfoss DP200 control unit allow you to pick up hose on the go while maintaining a tight, even wrap, all without leaving the tractor seat. An electrohydraulic circuit automatically matches reel speed to the tractor’s travel speed, offering a fast, versatile method to fill the entire reel without leaving the cab.

Other front-loading hose reels require a vigilant eye on the speedometer while picking up hose on the go, but not the HR128AG. Automatic tensioning allows the unit to maintain a set tension on the hose, leaving the operator free to focus on tasks other than evenly wrapping the hose.

Hydro’s Nate Zimmerman says the initial goal was to increase the capacity, as well as making something unique. This hose reel holds 1½ miles of 8-inch hose, 2 miles of 6-inch hose and 1 mile of 8-inch hose. Previous models had a maximum capacity of eight 8-inch hoses, or 1 mile of hose. Compared to previous models, this model has increased capacity along with more versatility.

Recognizing that every pumping situation is little different — every field, every lagoon, every producer — the HR128AG packages three custom solutions in a single reel. This gives operators the flexibility to choose the option needed for the situation: stop and pull in hose from the rear, either over the top or underneath, or pick up the hose on the go with automatic tensioning.

Zimmerman says the hose is one of the biggest investments for manure haulers, and traditionally hoses are dragged across the field to be reloaded, putting a lot of wear and tear on the hose, “so we want to be gentle with our hose.”

Aaron Lower, the panel’s veterinarian, was really impressed with “the amount of thought that went into the little things … more so than what I thought going into it.” He likes the ability to load the hose in the front and rear, “and the ability to go over and under” with the hose on the reel.

A direct hydraulic drive and planetary hub replaces a traditional chain and sprocket system on the HR128AG, offering the same functionality with less maintenance and increased operator safety.

Thome appreciates that the company has taken user feedback from real-world application to make a better product.

Joseph Darrington, the New Product Tour panel’s engineer, says, “It was a big jump forward from previous models, such as with the floating tires. This takes a two-man job and makes it a one-man job, so that will save you some money.” That aspect also gains points with Thome, seeing the practical application in the field, literally and figuratively.

For more information, visit or contact Steve Oelfke at 952-467-3100.


A tragedy from fire in the home unfortunately is not uncommon in our region. In Detroit, three people died in house fire. Two of three were three-year-old twins. Third person killed was their grandmother.

The pork industry is anticipating release on latest Hogs and Pigs report. It's likely to show continued expansion. Look for that growth to continue as breeding herd is expected to be 1% higher than last year.

More of us pickup folks want more luxury in those trucks. Automakers are happy to oblige. Dodge coming out with 1500 limited edition RAM selling at just over $50,000 that is their most tricked out truck yet.

Everyday we see poor drivers. There's a list to show were worst drivers are. Many are in California. Looked at number of accidents, speeding. Omaha, Denver, Colombus were among locations with worst drivers. 

Here are 3 things to consider beyond Hogs & Pigs report big numbers

Scott Olson/Getty Images Finishing Hogs

Market traders are anticipating big pig numbers in the upcoming USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report. Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Allendale Inc., says a new record for U.S. swine herd is coming our way in the June 29 report. “We are looking at a total of 72 million head as of June 1, and that will be a brand new record. Also, after net exports the largest supply hitting the U.S. consumers in tenfold years,” stresses Nelson in market discussion with Dave Hightower of The Hightower Report, provided by the CME Group.

I think everyone in the swine business can foresee a significant number of hogs in the pipeline. Expansion is the word every market trader speaks when discussing the current situation for the U.S. pork industry. America’s pig farmers are excellent at producing pork, and 2017 is sealing that fact in concrete.

Still, three questions remain.

  1. While the pig population seems to be multiplying like rabbits, is aggressive expansion actually happening? Looking at the pre-report estimates, both Allendale and Livestock Marketing Information Center forecast the U.S. hog herd to increase 3%, but estimates the breeding herd to only grow by 1-1.5%. A signal of mild expansion. The outstanding pig crops – sending an estimated 2-4% more pigs to slaughter in the fourth quarter of 2017 – document the high efficiencies of the U.S. pork producers.
  2. Will demand outpace supply? Despite an increase in pork production, hog prices are reasonable, leaving pig farmers on the positive side of the balance sheet. So far this year, the surge in U.S. pork exports, up 15% at the end of April, have resulted in a win. Dermot Hayes, Ph.D., Iowa State University economist, explains to the audience at the 2017 World Pork Expo, pork production climbed 3.4% in the second quarter of 2017 whereas pork demand reached a net increase of 4%. Since domestic demand is flat, the international marketplace is the place to be for selling extra pork. Realistically, pork demand can turn soft on a dime. So, it persists as the wild card moving forward.
  3. U.S. is selling more pork without China? Every top pork-producing country wants a bigger piece of the Chinese market pie. Even though China imported the most pork last year, the United States so far has not sold additional pork in China for several reasons. First, the European Union and Canada are selling pork cheaper despite the weaker U.S. dollar. Also, China is now also expanding. The additional hogs are starting to drive prices downward. On the bright side, U.S. pork exports are robust. So, yes! The United States is selling more pork around the globe with little growth in the Chinese market.

Moving forward, America’s pig farmers have many reasons to be smiling. The global consumer is hungry for U.S. pork. Demand is keeping hog prices at a level for swine producers to return a profit, according to the estimated returns for swine profitability by Lee Schulz, Iowa State University. The year marks the exceptional skills of the U.S. hog farmer to produce healthy, delicious pork for the global table.