USDA reports even fewer hogs than expected

USDA’s quarterly hogs and pigs report was expected to show PEDv impact. It showed a larger impact than analysts were expecting.

University of Missouri Agricultural Economics Professor Ron Plain tells Brownfield PEDv is reducing hog numbers, but if there’s a positive for pork producers, “The pigs per litter continues to be very low and that’s pulling down the number of market hogs, and gives us a very bright outlook for hog prices.”

Plain adds that there just isn’t much producers can do to stem the spread of PEDv, “We’ve not been very successful at containing the spread of the disease. Most hog farmers, I think, realize that it pays to do everything you can, but not to be too surprised if they end up with the disease on their farms.”

Allendale’s David Kohli says the numbers look supportive for futures.

As of June 1, all hogs and pigs in the U.S. were 62.128 million head, down 5% on the year, when, on average, via Reuters, analysts were anticipating a 2.9% decline. The breeding inventory was pegged at 5.855 million head, a little less than last year when traders were expecting a 1.8% increase, and the market inventory was 56.273 million head, 5% below a year ago, compared to expectations for a 3.2% decrease. By weight, hogs weighing less than 50 pounds were 17.999 million head and the 50 to 119 pound category was 16.071 million, while the 120 to 179 pounders were 11.931 million head and the 180 pound and over category was 10.271 million.

The March to May pig crop of 27.361 million head was 5% lower than a year ago and sow farrowings during that period saw a modest year to year decline at 2.797 million head. There were an average of 9.78 pigs saved per litter, compared to 10.31 for March to May 2013.

June through August farrowing intentions are projected at 2.893 million head, which would be up slightly on the year, and September through November intentions are seen at 2.880 million head, which would be up 4%.

USDA also made downward adjustments to the December and March inventory numbers and to the September through November 2013 pig crop.

Missouri hog farmer ups biosecurity

A Missouri hog farmer says they’re doing everything they can to try and keep the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus away from their herd.  Rick Rehmeier has a one-thousand sow farrow to finish operation near Augusta in eastern Missouri…

“We are cleaning the trucks, having them disinfected. When the feed trucks and other trucks come on the farm they’re disinfecting their tires.  We’re doing whatever WE can to stop it on our end.”

Rehmeier’s farm is in mostly-urban St. Charles County so when it comes to any neighboring operations that have been hit by PEDv, he tells Brownfield Ag News,“The neighbors here close by, we have very few hog farms close. The closest known case that I know of is Bowling Green, Missouri, close to us.”

Rehmeier has several other hog operations in the area.  He row-crops 23-hundred acres of corn, beans and wheat.

Wheat scab a concern in Illinois

Wheat scab has occurred again in many Illinois wheat fields this year.  The wet, humid weather as wheat was flowering was a recipe for its growth.  Carl Bradley, University of Illinois plant pathologist says he hasn’t been everywhere but has seen the disease in southern and central Illinois wheat fields.

Spores that cause the infection often come from corn stubble on the ground, Bradley tells Brownfield Ag News, “In a state like Illinois we always have that inoculum present because we have so much corn in our state. But, really, the thing that kind of changes each year would be the weather.”

He says there’s not much to be done about it this year but – for next year – farmers should check out information the University’s wheat breeder posts after screening the various breeds, “And he puts that data up on the U of I variety testing website so somebody could just do a Google search for ‘Illinois variety testing’ and then that should pop up and they could go to the small grains page to find that data.”

Wheat scab doesn’t necessarily reduce yield but it can greatly reduce wheat quality.

Interview with Carl Bradley (6:00 mp3)

Outlook Board predicts more pork

The monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from USDA raises the 2014 pork production estimate to 22.8 billion pounds reflecting expected heavier dressed weights. Lower feed costs and ample barn space due to PEDv losses are given as the reasons dressed weights are expected to average 6 pounds more than a year ago at 213 pounds.

Second-quarter hog prices are expected to range between $84 and $85 while they should average $76 to $78 for the year. Retail pork prices are predicted to exceed $4 per pound in the second half of this year.

Pork imports have increased as the higher prices have made European pork competitive.  The report says exports have increased as well in anticipation of continued tight U.S. pork supplies.  “It also appears that some major buyers of U.S. pork—Japan, Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, and Taiwan—are now experiencing animal disease outbreaks, which could result in increased demand for U.S. pork products.”


Another $8 million for bee habitat

The USDA is committing $8 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) incentives to establish honey bee habitat in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. More than half of the commercially-managed honey bees are in these five states during the summer.

Disease, parasites, loss of habitat and other factors have contributed to a significant decline in the honey bee population. The number of managed honey bee colonies has fallen from over 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today.

The incentives will be used to manage or replace existing cover vegetation with high nutrition seed mixes with distinct blooming cycles to benefit the bees. The new seed mixes were developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. USDA says more than $15 billion worth of agricultural production including fruits and vegetables depend upon the honey bees.

Earlier this year the ag department committed $3 million to Midwest states to support bee populations through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

More known about PEDv reporting rule

More is known about the USDA’s reporting rule for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.  A USDA fact sheet says all cases of new PEDv and porcine delta coronavirus have to be reported to USDA or state animal health officials. Producers reporting either of these viruses are to work with a veterinarian to develop and implement a management plan to address the virus and prevent its spread.

The USDA says it will do its best to protect confidentiality of collected information and protect producer information from Freedom of Information Act requests to the fullest extent of the law.

Regulatory action may be taken if reporting requirements aren’t met.

iPad app assesses risk for corn rootworm

There is a new tool to help farmers combat corn rootworms. It’s an application available for iPad device users to assess their risk for corn rootworm pressure.  It provides specific management recommendations for the farmer and was designed by Monsanto insect management specialists.  The risk assessment application is designed so that the farmer follows prompts from app, says Tom Eickhoff, an agronomic systems lead for Monsanto.  Growers should load the app, and take their iPad right into the field with them when they scout.

AUDIO: Tom Eickhoff (3 min. MP3)

Rainy hay issues for horses

A wet spring can mean delayed harvest for hay and that can spell trouble for livestock and horses.  For areas of the country where tall fescue is grown it is toxic when the seed heads are present.  Both a mare and her foal can be affected when the mare eats endophyte-infected fescue.

Aside from the toxicity issue – University of Minnesota Extension Horse Specialist Krishona Martinson says most horses don’t need to have the best hay.

HOOFBEAT PROGRAM – Rain affected hay (3:00 mp3)

PRRS work informs PEDv management

Reid Phillips, BIVI PRRS Manager during World Pork Expo

Reid Phillips, BIVI PRRS Manager, during World Pork Expo

Battling Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) in the swine industry for the past 20 years could help when it comes to managing the latest swine disease, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). Reid Phillips, Technical Manager for PRRS with Boehringer Ingelheim (B-I), is also a veterinarian.  He tells Brownfield Ag News, “It was a disease that was unforgiving. It was a disease that challenged us. I think we had to learn a lot in a relatively short period of time. It was also a disease that would spank us if we made shortcuts.”

Phillips says PRRS has made veterinarians better and has led the way to many improvements including better biosecurity, “To help control or mitigate transmissions risks for PRRS. I think it’s going to help us with PED and maybe the next virus.”

B-I has three swine vaccines for PRRS.  He tells Brownfield its “all hands on board” working on a vaccine for PEDv.

Interview with Reid Phillips (6:00 mp3)

Unpredictability of PEDv

Dr. Tom Burkgren, American Association of Swine Vets, World Pork Expo

Dr. Tom Burkgren, American Association of Swine Vets, World Pork Expo

A year into the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in the U.S. and there are still more questions than answers.  At the World Pork Expo, Tom Burkgren, head of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians said sow immunity is still a big question mark, “Especially with some of the recurrences you’ll have good litters and next to them will be a bad litter where you have continued diarrhea, death loss, pre-weaning mortality staying at about 30-percent. So, that really presents a challenge for our veterinarians and producers on the farms.”

Since January of this year, he says there have been some herds affected by PEDv that have taken longer to get to negative than most affected herds last year. Burkgren says, “Sixty-to-70-percent of the farms you can get negative pigs out in six weeks. But, there remains a percentage of farms where the virus has been more persistent and it doesn’t seem to really correlate with high or low biosecurity.”

But, Burkgren stresses that the practice of feedback for immunity and increased biosecurity are the top things producers can do to try and keep PEDv away. Meanwhile, increased industry and government funding is going into PEDv management and research.

AUDIO: Dr. Tom Burkgren at 2014 World Pork Expo news conference (5:00 mp3)