This past week I was asked for management items that contract growers should be aware of as we manage for high feed costs going into summer weather. Of course the obvious item is correct feeder adjustment, something that will always be a management concern.

One item that many in the industry don’t consider is management of the sick pen. I’ve told many people that many sick pens that I come across in facilities are really ‘waiting to die’ pens. That is, by the time a producer or grower decides to remove a pig to the sick pen, the proper thing to do for that pig’s welfare would be euthanasia. I’ve seen too many sick pens with pigs huddled in corners shivering, pigs with broken legs hobbling to feeders, pigs with large abscesses that can’t be sold to a primary market, etc.

Another term for many sick pens is ‘dust collectors’. These occur in barns where 4-6 pens are left empty at time of pig placement with the idea that disadvantaged pigs, slow pigs, injured pigs, etc. will be removed from pens as the pigs grow to these pens.

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