One way to reduce some of the pig flow problems created by growth variability is to feed an entire group of pigs until the lighter ones reach an acceptable weight. This approach will reduce time and costs associated with sorting hogs, but there are some definite downsides. And it becomes more important when hog prices are unusually low.

You need to calculate the daily cost of keeping a hog on feed after it reaches an acceptable market weight. Remember that many genotypes convert feed less efficiently after about 250 pounds.

Specifically, you need to determine the marginal income, or amount of value gained or lost, as market hogs get heavier. With current low cash prices, you’re likely to find the  marginal income is not usually great. In addition, most hogs get fatter after reaching their optimal market weight and that will have a negative impact on your carcass premiums.

Even with low feed costs, this is probably not an ideal time to feed hogs longer than necessary. Sorting groups more often and more closely will maximize efficiency and reduce losses in down markets. Also, reducing variability within each group will make this easier and smooth out your pig flow.