In the past few months I’ve been asked repeatedly to comment further on my prediction that barrow and gilt slaughter weights will increase to 290 pounds live weight by the year 2022. This prediction is based on a review of USDA federally inspected barrow and gilt carcass weight increases. In the 24 year period from 1988 through 2011, carcass weight has increased an average of 1.4 lb/year. The corresponding correlation coefficient for this rate of increase is 0.98, meaning there has been very little variation year to year in this annual increase.
When you carry out the trend line for the next 10 years and use a 75% carcass yield on the result, you come up with a 290 lb average live weight for the year 2022.
Based on Iowa-Southern Minnesota live weights, we were on pace at the beginning of this year to increase slaughter weights faster than the trend line. I know many systems selling to Tyson, Cargill and Triumph plants had target sale weights of 300 lb or heavier. As the drought impact became a factor in feed prices, these target weights have come down and this has been reflected in slaughter weights (and numbers) this fall. However, in the past few weeks the trend has returned – weights are going back up as producers get a better picture of feed supplies and ingredient prices. In addition, the optimism reflected in the futures prices for next summer (and months leading to next summer) has producers once again rethinking their strategies for optimal market weights.