Heavier Hogs Affect Pen Size and Output

Brian Cotton - Livestock Specialist, MAFRI

As the target weight for market hogs increases, producers have to adjust their calculations on the number of groups of hogs through the barn as well as increased pen space for these heavier pigs.

Farrow-to-finish producers will soon find that holding market hogs back, to add an additional 20 lbs of weight, will quickly backlog a full, efficiently managed facility. Additional pen space may be needed in the finisher barn or surplus weanlings may have to be sold.

Feeder barn operators may have to look at increasing pen size to provide adequate space for the heavier market hogs, or put fewer pigs on feed, reducing the efficiency that had been seen in the same facility.

Producers who are considering contract feeding for a company will need to consider the space requirements and the number of groups of hogs that can be finished in that barn in a year.

If a producer has a contract that pays a dollar value for pigs marketed, they must consider that less pigs will be marketed per year if they are kept to heavier weights. Contract adjustments should be made or the barn owner will see lower returns.

If you are contract finishing on a pig place contract you will need to know how much "pen space" is required per pig by the contractor. This may vary as weight requirements change.

For example: If a barn was built to finish 2000 market hogs at 7.6 sq ft/pig the pen space would be 15,200 sq ft.

If a contractor required 8.8 sq ft/pig to give adequate space for heavier pigs, this same barn would hold: 15,200 ¸ 8.8 = 1727 market hogs. Your barn then only has 1727 pig places rather than 2000. If you were contracting for $50/pig place you would receive: 2000 - 1727 = 273 * $50 = $13,650 less.

New feeder barns may have to look at space requirements for these heavier hogs to provide adequate space. This will increase the cost per pig place to the producers.

Some industry goals and standards need to be set to give producers realistic numbers to work with for their own operations, or when entering contracting arrangements.