US pig farmers might quit as corn prices rise

26-01-2007 | |

The higher feed prices, as a result of the soaring demand for corn will put some pig producers out of business. This was the message heard at the Iowa Pork Congress, US, earlier this week.

“Right now (pork producers) are operating in the red,” said Carol Stevens of Fordyce, Nebraska. “There’s no profit in livestock now because of the cost of grain.”

Neil Dierks, chief executive officer of National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in Iowa’s capital of Des Moines, agreed that many producers are struggling. “Right now most hog farmers are in the break-even range and some producers will opt to quit the business.”

Concerns about DDGs

The situation could ease as more farmers rely more on an ethanol-production byproduct called distillers grains as animal feed. Most farmers already feed their pigs between 10 to 20% of distillers grains along with conventional corn, Shurson said at the Pork Congress seminar.

Shurson said distillers’ energy value is equal to corn, but there may be concerns about them being high in fat and having lower amounts of protein. Others are concerned that the price of distillers is also rising and is comparable to the price of corn.

More studies needed

John Bruellman, a pig farmer from Ottosen in North Central Iowa, said more studies need to be done before pig farmers use higher percentages of distillers in their feed. He said he had problems pumping out manure from hogs that ate feed containing distillers. He also said distillers were difficult to grind with other grains in making feed.

Ryan Sauer, distillers manager for Iowa Falls-based Hawkeye Renewables, said Iowa stands a good chance to double its distillers production this year, making the alternative feed source more available.

Own answers

For now, farmers are coming up with their own answers. Bruellman said he relies heavily on corn he grows himself for feed and expects more hog farmers to do the same.

Related links:
• Iowa Pork Congress
• Iowa State University
• Iowa Renewable Fuels Association
• National Pork Producers Council

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