Last week the average barrow and gilt slaughter weight in the Iowa and Southern Minnesota market region was 276.2 lb, the heaviest on record. Sales weights are higher for 2 reasons. The first is full slaughter schedules at all of the major packing plants – producers continue to deliver enough pigs to have daily kills in the 420-430,000 head range, very close to the estimated total slaughter capacity.

The second reason – pigs are profitable. For several of the packer grids, the most profitable delivered weight is around 290 lb and some producers are even targeting closer to 300 lb live weight as their delivery target. If you have a 295 lb liveweight and 76% carcass yield, you end up with a 224 lb carcass. At $86/cwt carcass weight, the gross revenue for this pig is $192.64. A truck load (168 head) yields a check of $32,363 and a typical site of 2400 head sold is $462,336.

My best guess – weights will continue to creep upwards. Packer payment grids for several of our major processors don’t have severe enough penalties for overweight pigs to discourage this ongoing trend, even in the face of higher feed ingredient prices.

Read more...