Saturday, July 13, 2024

Looking at the promises and potential impact of Premier Doug Ford’s reign

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Support from the new Ontario government for the pork industry and other ag sectors 

By Treena Hein

All Ontario premiers are always sure to attend the ‘International Plowing Match and Rural Expo’ held each year in the province. After all, it’s a very high-exposure opportunity to be associated with farming. 

This September however, during their visit to the event, both Premier Doug Ford and new Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Ernie Hardeman met with representatives from various ag groups at a roundtable, discussing the challenges currently faced by farmers and ways in which Ontario agriculture can grow and diversify in the global market. Stakeholders at the event included Ontario Pork, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Grain Farmers of Ontario, Beef Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Agri Business Association. 

In the event press release, Ford promised, “I will use every tool at my disposal to help the agri-food sector grow…Ontario is open for business, and I will not leave our farmers behind.” Hardeman added that, “For too long rural Ontario was an afterthought. Our government is committed to listening to farmers…as we work to strengthen the agriculture industry.”

Industry reaction

Schwindt says Ontario Pork well understands the “serious fiscal situation in this province” and that the pork industry wants to be part of the solution. “But,” he asserts, “there has to be a conversation to which everyone can contribute,” and that “Ontario Pork certainly believes that all commodities should benefit equally.”

For his part, although he notes that “it’s still early days,” Ontario Pork Board Chair Eric Schwindtsays Ontario Pork is encouraged that Premier Ford wants to work for farmers. “Hardeman has also been a long-time supporter of agriculture,” Schwindt adds. “He’s been an MP in Oxford County for many years and he was Minister of Agriculture in the Mike Harris government, so he’s a good choice.”

It’s still early days, but we are encouraged that Premier Ford wants to work for farmers. ~Ontario Pork Board Chair Eric Schwindt

Commitments made

Among the current provincial government’s promises, one that particularly pleases Ontario Pork is an increase by 2020 in annual funding of $50 million to the Risk Management Program. “As an industry, we can do a lot to prepare for ups and downs in the market, but this is the only effective program to deal with large fluctuations in market price,” Schwindt explains. “The extra funding is appreciated, but the devil is in the details and there must also be program design changes that better address farmers’ needs.” These includemore response in times of need and the ability to carry-over unspent funds to make the program more like insurance.

Ontario Pork is also encouraged that the government has eliminated the provincial carbon cap and trade program, and is hopeful that going forward, there will be different ways to accomplish the same goal with less economic impact. “We compete in the world market and as we make changes to reduce global warming, we very much need to stay competitive with other jurisdictions,” Schwindt says. “We want to do our part, and we are encouraged that the provincial government isn’t going to impose taxes or regulations that would put us at risk of going out of business.”

From the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) perspective, President Keith Currie says his organization has had some positive conversations with the government about what the new carbon plan will look like, and like Schwindt, he’s confident agriculture’s needs relating to carbon emissions will be much better received than previously. A long-standing request, for example, is moving forward to have natural gas used on farms and in greenhouses exempt or almost exempt from any future carbon tax plan. 

Hardeman notes that in addition to this, his government is working with the private sector to expand natural gas and broadband networks to more communities, as well as reducing gasoline and hydro rates to make it more affordable to do business and live in Ontario. “We want to ensure policies and programs will help the agri-food sector grow their businesses and avoid additional regulatory burden or costs,” he says. “We have already taken some of the first steps to…promote economic growth. We’re also advocating for Ontario’s farmers and processors on a national level. These initiatives are all part of the province’s plan to make Ontario open for business, grow the economy and help protect and create good jobs across the province.”

Doug Ford

Currie notes that this all fits well with the ‘Producing Prosperity’ campaign that OFA introduced to politicians and would-be politicians over a year ago. Like the plan that Hardeman describes, it’s focussed on economic development for rural Ontario that will help farm businesses succeed, specifically through job creation, affordable housing and environmental sustainability and food security.

Cutting red tape

Ontario Pork hopes there are many avenues the provincial government could take to reduce compliance issues for pork farmers, including, says Schwindt, the reduction of “redundant paperwork related to nutrient management, without compromising any of the environmental integrity of the current rules and regulations.” Another opportunity for cutting red tap relates to pork industry worker shortages. “While we always look to hire locally first, many producers and processors need the help of temporary foreign workers to fill positions not wanted by locals,” Schwindt explains. “Current immigration rules make it really difficult for these farm workers to stay and keep working beyond their temporary work permits, even if they decide they want to settle and build a family here in Ontario.” 

At this point, OFA is encouraged at how the new provincial government – and in particular OMAFRA – is working to reduce regulatory burdens. “We are hopeful that we can continue to adjust and tweak regulations that are posing operational changes to our farm businesses,” says Currie, including changes to the employment standards act as another example.”  

I will use every tool at my disposal to help the agri-food sector grow… Ontario is open for business, and I will not leave our farmers behind. ~ Premier Doug Ford

For his part, Hardeman acknowledges that he heard many concerns about red tape and the need for nimble, efficient regulations at the roundtable discussion, as well as “concerns about labour and the unique labour environment required for our farm and agri-food businesses to remain competitive. Some of those concerns are now being addressed through the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.”

Other issues and the big picture

Ontario Pork would also like the Ontario government to be involved with better prevention of animal disease from abroad, as well as better regulation of protests. “With protesters approaching trucks, especially in the winter, it’s dangerous because drivers can’t see them, and there are also food safety risks,” Schwindt says. “The rules of engagement should be that people have the right to protest and stay safe, but our transporter’s safety and that of our animals also needs to be protected.” 

Currie notes that there have been some changes to predation regulations for livestock farming and that OFA is continuing to work on more changes to achieve better loss compensation through the Ontario Wildlife Predation Compensation Act. In addition, since Doug Ford was elected, OFA has also been able (with OMAFRA’s help) to start the reversal process of an action by the previous government relating to rabies vaccinations. These regulations, Currie says, made it very difficult to take animals to shows and exhibits or hold farm tours without having to have all animals vaccinated.

In the end, Schwindt is of the view that no matter what issues should be addressed by the government, the most important thing is “to be in the room” – to be part of driving solutions and creating policy. “We continue to talk to Minister Hardeman, his staff and to our partners at OMAFRA. The pork industry has a reputation for being proactive and helpful in these conversations and we want to continue that. We’re excited about the opportunities to grow and become a larger part of the province’s economy.” 

View from Grier

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Export Value for Canada

Export values are a hot topic lately. That is in part due to the fact that producers think Canadian packers are getting more in the market than normal. That in turn is due to the fact that U.S. packers are in the middle of a trade dispute with Mexico and China. Producers believe Canadian packers are able to attain higher prices as a result. That is proving to be true, at least with Mexico, for now – but what about overall? Does Canadian pork get a premium in export markets because it is Canadian?  

Over the course of 2017, Canadian pork exports of 1.1 billion kilograms on a payweight basis amounted to about C$3.6 billion. That is a unit value of about C$3.25/kg. Total U.S. exports of 1.9 billion kilograms last year amounted to US$5.3 billion. That works out to US$2.79/kg or C$3.62/kg. The U.S. unit value was 10+-% more than the Canadian unit value in C$.

On a country basis, the U.S. unit value was about 5-10 per cent more to Japan and well over 25 per cent more to Taiwan. The top volume countries all saw higher values going to the U.S. This does not mean that Canadian packers are receiving less for the same cut products exported to the same countries. It could just mean that our export product mix contains items of less value. That is not necessarily a negative. On the positive side it could simply mean that the more valuable cuts are staying in Canada or are sold to the United States. That would be more profitable, often. All products go to the market with the highest value, it is best if that is Canada or the United States given logistics.

Another reason U.S. values might be higher is that U.S. packers have advantages because they are much less export dependent. That is the export price is a higher hurdle for U.S. packers before it is worth moving product offshore. U.S. packers have the advantage of having a strong internal market (they export less than us in Canada). Some cuts are higher in the U.S., so they are less dependent on exports than we are. As an example, the retail loin market is a lot larger in the U.S. than in Canada.

With that noted, more specific items such as hams to Mexico also show the U.S. deriving more value. In 2017 the U.S. unit value of hams to Mexico was C$2.12/kg while the Canadian value was C$1.88/kg. That in turn is likely a reflection of the costs of doing business between Canada and Mexico versus the much lower costs between the U.S. and Mexico. In other words, there are a myriad of reasons for different export unit values.

Canadian packers add value

The data notwithstanding, there are times and cases where Canadian packers do attain higher prices than their U.S. counterparts. This is often the case in Japan and Korea, and to a lesser extent Taiwan, Philippines, Aust, and NZ, which are leading markets. The main reason for the higher prices is Canadian packers’ adherence to specifications. That equates to better yield.

In other words, Canadian packers compete against their larger U.S. counterparts in the same way that smaller firms in all industries compete against larger firms –adherence to detail and service. This is nothing new. Another reason for an advantage in Japan is due to the western barley fed hogs which produces a darker pork with whiter fat which that market favors. Others in Canada have switched genetics to those more favored in Japan. Again, this is more of a customer focused approach which is text book business practices for smaller firms versus bigger firms.

The field is always changing though and the old formula may not hold. Many U.S. packers have been able to develop good markets with strong brand recognition/loyalty (Hormel, Smithfield, Hatfield, etc). The question for the future will be how do those new marketing efforts compare with Maple Leaf, Olymel or Hylife exporting chilled pork in Japan or other higher end markets?  Will any Canadian advantage hold against these U.S. efforts?

Not a Canada-wide attribute

The bottom line is that Canadian packers are willing to accommodate export customers. This is often because of the smaller plants which facilitates this flexibility and accommodates the customer better than large plants. There is also the ractopamine-free issue or other protocols that the U.S. industry may be unwilling to accommodate.

Another important point is that the added value per kilo, if it does exist is specific to each market and each packer. It is not a Canadian value. It is not a Canada-wide attribute, and has more to do with what happens to the pork after it reaches the packer than what happens at the farm.

Under-utilized plants are costly

Western Canada has the capacity to slaughter about 200,000 head per week. On a typical week, the slaughter is about 163,000, for an 82 per cent plant capacity utilization rate. The utilization rate in the U.S. is around 95 per cent.  Of course some plants, like HyLife are running full out while others like Maple Leaf Brandon and Olymel Red Deer are not.

Of course, plants that are not run at full capacity also costly. Money is not left on the table in terms of added payments to vendors, but it is lost nonetheless. It is lost in terms of higher kill costs per head and lost productivity.

Take for example a fictional plant on the prairies that is supposed to kill 45,000 head per week. That is about Red Deer’s size. That fictional plant might have kill and cut costs of about $55 per head. Thatwould put weekly costs at about $2.5 million of which about a third might be fixed overhead. The reality, however, is that much of the variable costs are also going to be fixed. Labour, a variable cost in theory, is not going to decrease if numbers are not where they should be. If, therefore, that plant is only running 38,000, like Red Deer has, the costs per head could easily go to $62-$65. Reduced kills add serious costs per head.

On the flip side, if the plant was at full capacity, any week that this fictional plant could run the odd half day on a Saturday would drive the entire week’s average kills down by at least $3/head.

Those numbers fit well with a rule of thumb that says for every increase or decrease in production by 10 per cent leads to a corresponding increase or decrease in costs by about 5-10 per cent.

The above example is a simplification but it does show the costs associated with underutilized plants. These added costs take away competitiveness and drive down profits.

Kevin Grier Market Analysis and Consulting provides industry market reports and analysis, as well as consulting services and public event speaking. You can reach him at kevin@kevingrier.com to comment or to request a free two-month trial of the Canadian Pork Market Review.

Managing water intake

Auditing Best Management Practices – Part 8

Submitted by Ken Engele, Prairie Swine Centre

Geneviève Berthiaume, Centre de développement du porc du Québec

In 2017, on-farm best management practices were audited on a total of 24 farms throughout Canada as part of a national project titled From Innovation to Adoption: On-farm Demonstration of Swine Research. This article is part of an eight-part series reporting on these audits. 

Among nutrients, water is required in the greatest amount but quite often receives the least attention. Water intake of finisher pigs has been reported to range up to three times feed intake, depending on body weight and feed intake. However, most ‘water intake’ reported is in the form of water disappearance from drinkers, including water wastage, rather than water actually consumed by pigs. Previous work has shown finishing pigs can waste 25% of water from well-managed nipple drinkers, therefore opportunities exist to reduce wastage when flow rates are adjusted on a regular basis1. Actual on-farm water flow rates and nipple drinker heights were measured on 24 farms across Canada, representing each phase of production from gestation to finishing. Note that not all farms had nipple drinkers installed in each phase of production, for example, some producers solely relied on wet/dry feeders without an additional water source.

Table 1. Water Flow Rate Recommendations

Low (L/min)Target (L/min)High (L/min)Very High (L/min)
Gilt Pen< 0.50.5 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.5 > 2.5 
Gestation< 0.50.5 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.5 > 2.5 
Farrowing< 1.0 1.0 – 2.0 2.0 – 3.0 > 3.0 
Nursery< 0.50.5 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.5 > 2.5 
Finishing< 0.50.5 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.5 > 2.5 

Prairie Swine Centre. 2000.  Pork Production Reference Guide.2

Table 1 outlines water flow parameters showing ranges measured for low, target, high, and very high values.  Recommended flow rates should range between 1.0 to 2.0 L/min and 0.5 to 1.0 L/min for farrowing and all other phases of production respectively, while the target range used in the analysis was expanded from 0.5 to 1.5 L/min for all areas other than farrowing.

Table 2. Measured Water Flow Rates – 24 audited farms

Low (<0.5L/min)Target(0.5 – 1.5 L/min)High(1.5 – 2.5 L/min)Very High (>2.5L/min)
Gilt Pen5.1%33.3%56.4%5.1%
Gestation0.0%59.4%21.9%18.8%
Farrowing15.3%38.9%29.3%16.6%
Nursery15.2%56.8%19.0%8.9%
Finishing5.4%29.3%54.3%10.9%

Overall water management within audited farms varies across phase of production (Table 2).  Generally producers do a better job in managing flow rates within Gestation (pens) and Nursery, where approximately 60% of the nipple drinkers measured met the target flow rate.  The challenge is in Finishing, where approximately two-thirds of nipple drinkers provide flow rates in excess of pig’s requirement, with 11% of nipple drinkers being rated very high (>2.5 L/min).

Economics

Table 3 represents a hypothetical situation of a 6,000-head finishing barn. In this case, if 100% of the nipple drinkers were adjusted to recommended flow rates (1L/min) water disappearance would be 42,000 L/day for the facility. However, as shown in the example in Table 3, only 29.3% of nipple drinkers would have been optimally adjusted. For this scenario, we can assume that any water disappearance above the rate of 7 L/day could be avoided. Therefore, the daily water disappearance would increase by 70% (or 30,800 L) to reach a total disappearance of 72,800 L/day.  The direct cost of water wastage (30,800 L) associated with manure disposal would translate into approximately $119/day or $41,500 per year if the previous assumptions were met. 

Table 3.  Hypothetical water disappearance measurements

CategoryLowTargetHighVery High
Measured Values**5.4%29.3%54.3%10.9%
Water Flow Rate (L/min)0.51.02.02.75
Number of Pigs324 1,7603,260655
Daily Water Disappearance/Pig (L/pig)771419.25
Total Daily Water Disappearance/Day (L)2,26812,32345,64612,613
Daily Water Wastage (L/pig)00712.25
Total Daily Water Wastage (L)0022,8238,026

** Refers to the percentage of nipple drinkers that were measured in each respective category. A total of 24 farms were measured across Canada.

CategoryL/Day
Calculated Water Disappearance72,849
Target Water Disappearance42,000
Water Wastage30,849
Additional Manure Disposal Cost/Day$119

Assumptions

6,000 head finishing barn

Average daily water consumption per pig – 7L/day

Duration of finishing period – 350 days/year (18 weeks/batch)

Manure application cost – $0.0175/gallon or $0.00385/litre 

The previous example provides potential savings for a hypothetical site; every producer should take the opportunity to assess potential savings related to manure disposal, water use, and pumping costs on a regular basis for their operation.

Properly mounting nipple drinkers can help reduce water wastage.3,4,5  Nipple drinkers mounted at 900should be set to shoulder height, while nipple drinkers mounted at 450should be set to 5cm (2 inches) above the back of the smallest pig in the pen.  It is important to note that mounting nipple drinkers lower than required will increase water wastage. 

Conclusion

Finishing pigs can maintain adequate water intake from a variety of drinker types, however water waste from drinkers can be very different depending on drinker type and management. Research has shown well-managed nipple drinkers can help reduce water waste to the same level as bowl drinkers..1 3  Finally, ensure you regularly check water flow rates, as this will determine time spent at the nipple, water intake and water wastage. Too little is just as costly as too much when it comes to flow rates.  

For Further Reading

1Water Usage and Wastage from Nipple Drinkers 

(English) http://www.prairieswine.com/water-usage-and-wastage-from-nipple-drinkers/ 

2Pork Production Reference Guide

(English) http://www.prairieswine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2000_Prairie_Swine_Reference_Guide.pdf

3Effects of nipple drinker height and flow rate on water wastage in grower and finisher pigs

(English) http://www.prairieswine.com/reducing-water-wastage-from-nipple-drinkers-by-grower-finisher-pigs/

4Recommended Flow Rate & Height of Nipple Drinkers

(English) http://www.prairieswine.com/recommended-flow-rate-height-of-nipple-drinkers/

5A Checklist for Water Use 

(English) http://www.prairieswine.com/a-checklist-for-water-use/

Leveraging quality assurance for better pay

Alberta pork producers’ resolution demands $7 per head, and Olymel says it won’t pay up

By Sarah Hoffmann

In their ongoing pursuit of better pork pricing, Alberta pork producers may have found a leverage point as a new quality assurance program is to be phased in across Canada. 

Members of Alberta Pork passed a resolution at their November 20, 2018 annual general meeting saying they would only participate in the new Canadian Pork Excellence (CPE) program if packers agreed to pay an additional $7 per head for CPE validated hogs. CPE was developed by the Canada Pork Council and is intended to replace the current quality assurance program over the next few years.

Obviously somebody is making money. It’s just not the producer. ~ Darcy Fitzgerald, Alberta Pork

The resolution comes at a time when producers’ profitability per head is low and they feel they are being asked to do too much for too little. 

According to Brent Bushell of the Western Hog Exchange, a non-profit organization that markets hogs for Alberta farmers, the accounting firm MNP has compared producer profitability over the first three quarters of the last five years and found that farrow-to-finish barns lose an average of $1.05 per head and finishing barns have lost an average of $22 per head. 

Prices have been especially brutal since this summer when tariffs on U.S. pork into China and Mexico caused that country’s cash prices to sink. The prices realized by Canadian pork producers went along for the ride because the formula Canadian packers use to pay producers is based on the U.S. cash price – and likely the cheapest hogs sold on any given day.

However, there are no tariffs on Canadian pork into these markets and presumably packers are selling just as robustly, if not more so, considering the slow-down of U.S. supply. Producers just aren’t seeing the benefit of this steady marketing environment. 

“We don’t have the same trade war going on with our customers that the U.S. has and there are some benefits coming to Canadian packers, but those benefits aren’t coming to the producers,” explained Ron Gietz, economics extension specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. 

Some packers have posted record profits recently. Olymel, for example, increased earnings over the last three years, with their highest profit ever in 2017. According to the website of La Coop fédérée, the parent company of Olymel, the packer earned a record $290.4 million in 2017, which was a $39 million increase over 2016 earnings. 

Producers and their organizations are frustrated by the fact that they follow stringent quality parameters which allow packers to extract a premium in the world market, but producers do not share in the returns on this high-end pork. 

I’m not prepared to give hogs to a packer because we’re friends. They have to work for them or not get them. ~ Brent Bushell, Western Hog Exchange

Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork, pointed out that the top customer for Alberta pork is Japan, the highest paying buyer in the world. The original pork quality assurance program, known as CQA, was implemented in 1998, with updates since then. Alberta pork producer’s attention to animal welfare, feed quality, and traceability grant access to world markets to the tune of $500 million annually. CPE, the new program, would require even more training and record-keeping.

Fitzgerald said the resolution is not about anger at quality assurance programs themselves, but about the difficult financial situation faced by producers and the poor relationship they have with the packers.

“They are using this quality assurance program revision to say, ‘Enough. We need to start seeing money.’ That’s their frustration to say we are not seeing enough money for all the work we do to make this excellent pig.” 

These programs come with a cost, not only in administration and training, but also in the finished product. In 2013, Alberta and BC pork produces quit using a popular growth promotant called ractopamine, which is still used in the U.S. and some parts of Canada. This allowed Alberta packers Olymel and Maple Leaf to sell pork into China, Russia and other countries that ban the feed additive, but producers that eschew ractopamine aren’t paid a premium for their sacrifice. 

Richard Vigneault, spokesperson for Olymel, said the company neither requested the introduction of a new quality assurance program, nor are they willing to pay a flat rate per head for hogs produced under that program. 

In Quebec, where pork producers collectively negotiate contracts with packers, they make an average of $8-10 more per head than producers in Alberta. 

I honestly believe we have a five-year window to change this. If we can’t we may not even have a hog industry in Alberta. ~ Brent Bushell, Western Hog Exchange

“I think Alberta producers would be really happy if we got paid the same as guys in Eastern Canada,” said Fitzgerald. “Our number one market in Alberta is Japan and it’s a premium market. They’re looking for more product from us and economics 101 would say short supply, large demand, then price should go up. Obviously somebody is making money. It’s just not the producer.”

So far, he does not see a will to move back towards single desk marketing in Alberta. However, some hog farmers are taking a look at the Western Hog Exchange (WHE) as an option to block market hogs and leverage a better price from packers. 

This past April the WHE began to focus on marketing groups of hogs that were coming off contracts with packers. In the past, WHE marketed most of the hogs they represented to Olymel, but that has changed under general manager Brent Bushell.

“We represent about 10,000 hogs per week right now. We had probably too close of a relationship with one packer. I came on three years ago and we decided that’s not what we wanted to do,” said Bushell. “I’m not prepared to give hogs to a packer because we’re friends. They have to work for them or not get them.”

The WHE tenders out amalgamated, un-contracted hogs to packers and chooses the best price. Speaking of the farmers he sells for, Bushell said, “They’re not prepared to sign long term contracts. They’re not prepared to sell hogs based on broken pricing. They’re prepared to use their strength in number to negotiate the best price.”

Sometimes the best price is found south of the border. Even with ongoing trade wars and transportation costs, producers can still fare better in the U.S. than in Canada. 

“We’ve been able to ship hogs into the U.S. and be able to extract $25-30 more per hog,” said Bushell. “I’m extremely embarrassed by our Canadian packers for making this happen.”

As a result of WHE’s recent activities, they are seeing increased interest from producers outside Alberta. 

“In 2019 we will expand into Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I’ve been invited to a few meetings in Quebec,” said Bushell.

Fitzgerald pointed out that many weaner pigs leave western Canada to be finished in the U.S. This Canadian-born, U.S. finished pork still goes into premium markets – only with an American sticker on it instead of a Canadian one. 

“We’re competing against ourselves,” laments Fitzgerald. 

Meanwhile, Alberta packers are short 70,000-100,000 pigs a week to be slaughtering at full capacity, and production continues to decline in Western Canada, because producers cannot afford to build new barns. Some are even ceasing production in existing barns before they wear out because they can’t afford to keep operating at a loss.

From the packer’s point of view, the current pricing system is a matter of competitiveness. 

“We operate in a North American context and our goal is to remain competitive on the world market as well. This involves purchasing pork at the same price as our competitors in the USA. Our way to deal with the price is based on valuable market references,” said Vigneault.

But a packer needs animals to slaughter and Olymel has had to increase their swine herd to do so. Their subsidiary, OlySky, purchased a large farrow-to-finish operation in Saskatchewan in 2013 and recently added 20,000 sows to their Alberta herd, bringing their total western herd to about 60,000 sows. 

“We are always looking to increase the number of market hogs for our Red Deer plant and in order to do so, we will be looking to develop partnerships with producers on how we finish more hogs which can include contract finishing,” said Vigneault. According to La Coop fédérée’s 2017 annual report, their western hog production sector lost money in both 2016 and 2017.

Ultimately, both Fitzgerald and Bushell believe that packers need to negotiate an equitable price with producers or the hog industry in Alberta may not recover. 

“I think it’s a dangerous game [the packers] are playing to not sit down and negotiate something positive for everyone,” said Fitzgerald. 

Bushell goes so far as to put a timeline on the necessary recovery.

“They’re choking out their own supply of hogs,” he said of packers. “I honestly believe we have a five-year window to change this. If we can’t we may not even have a hog industry in Alberta.”

Coûts d’alimentation élevés : à la recherche d’un répit

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Rédaction: Geoff Geddes pour Swine Innovation Porc   |  Traduction : Élise Gauthier

Les producteurs parlent des coûts d’alimentation comme la plupart des Canadiens parlent de l’hiver : ils s’en plaignent et n’en voient pas la fin. Si on connaît un bref répit chaque année pour ce qui est de l’hiver, les coûts d’alimentation, eux, demeurent un souci constant. C’est ce qui explique qu’il y ait de nombreuses recherches sur les façons de réduire ce poste de dépense. Dans une recherche récente, des chercheurs se sont penchés sur le lien entre les aliments et certaines pratiques de gestion. Les résultats obtenus sont étonnants.

« Nous avons déjà montré que nourrir les porcs avec des rations dont la teneur en énergie nette (EN) est constante mais plus faible permettait aux producteurs d’améliorer leurs revenus, comparativement à des rations contenant plus d’énergie » rappelle Miranda Smit, Ph. D., du ministère l’Agriculture et de la Foresterie de l’Alberta (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry).

Manger plus

Il faut comprendre que les porcs doivent pouvoir augmenter leur consommation afin de compenser la valeur énergétique plus faible d’un aliment. C’est généralement plus facile à dire qu’à faire, puisque dans les bâtiments l’espace et l’accès aux trémies peuvent être restreints et ainsi limiter la consommation d’aliments.  Y a-t-il un lien entre le niveau d’EN des aliments, la densité animale, l’espace disponible à la trémie et le sexe? Si oui, quel est donc ce lien? Ce que les chercheurs apprécient encore plus que les questions, ce sont des réponses. Ils se sont donc mis à la recherche de réponses en réalisant une étude sur 960 porcs castrés et 960 cochettes.

« Les porcs ont été logés dans 96 parcs. Les parcs comptaient des mâles ou des femelles, 18 ou 22 animaux, 2 ou 3 trémies d’alimentation et finalement, les rations attribuées à ces parcs avaient une teneur en EN faible (2,2 Mcal) ou élevée (2,35 Mcal). Les rations contenant moins d’énergie étaient à base de blé ou d’orge alors que celles avec plus d’EN étaient à base de blé et de pois et contenaient de l’huile de canola. Le poids global des porcs et la consommation apparente d’aliments par parc ont été mesurés pour chaque phase de croissance. »

Bien qu’à certains égards les résultats aient confirmé ce qui avait été démontré antérieurement, ils ont également fourni de nouveaux éclairages pour les producteurs.

Même gain?

« Cette fois encore, nous avons constaté que les porcs nourris avec les rations contenant moins d’EN ont consommé plus que les autres, sans que cela n’ait d’impact sur leur croissance. D’autre part, quand la densité animale était moindre, 18 animaux par parc, les porcs ont mangé un peu plus et ont obtenu une meilleure croissance que quand la densité était plus élevée (22 porcs par parc). Le surpeuplement implique que les porcs ont moins de chances d’avoir accès aux trémies et se développent généralement moins bien. »

L’ajout d’une trémie supplémentaire dans les parcs a permis aux porcs de manger plus. Toutefois, l’impact sur le gain moyen quotidien a été négligeable.

« Je crois que la trémie supplémentaire a favorisé le gaspillage des aliments. L’analyse de l’efficacité alimentaire permet d’établir qu’elle a légèrement diminué avec l’ajout de la troisième trémie. Il y avait alors trois places où les aliments pouvaient être gaspillés. Les porcs de ces parcs ont probablement mangé un peu plus, mais ont aussi gaspillé davantage d’aliments. »

Ce qui étonne le plus Miranda Smit dans les résultats, c’est ce qui ne s’est pas passé.

« Je m’attendais à voir des interactions entre la prise alimentaire et les trois pratiques de gestion : la densité animale, le nombre de trémies par parc et l’EN des rations. En fait, nous n’avons observé aucun lien entre ces paramètres. Le côté positif est que peu importe qu’il y ait surpeuplement ou non ou que vous fournissiez une trémie supplémentaire ou non dans le parc, vous pouvez servir aux porcs des rations faible en EN et ils obtiendront tout de même une bonne croissance. Il s’agit de résultats intéressants. Lors des essais antérieurs les rations faibles en EN avaient bien fonctionné et avaient permis de réduire les coûts d’alimentation. Nous avions alors supposé que tous les autres pratiques de gestion devaient être parfaites pour que ça fonctionne. Les résultats de cette recherche suggèrent que ce n’est pas le cas. »

Bien que ce projet confirme une fois de plus que les rations faibles en énergie nette permettent de réduire les coûts d’alimentation, il demeure important que la proportion entre les acides aminés et l’énergie ne soit pas altérée substantiellement. Sans ça, les résultats seront décevants pour les producteurs. Aux intéressés, Miranda Smit conseille vivement de consulter un expert en nutrition avant d’aller de l’avant avec des rations contenant moins d’EN.

Nos connaissances sur les aliments et sur les façons de réduire leurs coûts ne cessent de s’améliorer. Qui sait si on n’arrivera bientôt au point où il n’y aura plus lieu de se plaindre des coûts d’alimentation élevés. Mais soyez sans inquiétude : on pourra toujours continuer à se plaindre de la météo.

Pour obtenir plus d’information sur cette recherche, veuillez contacter :

Miranda Smit 
Courriel : miranda.smit@gov.ab.ca
Téléphone : 780 427-8409

Feeding hogs extruded and expeller-pressed B. juncea canola cake

Xun Zhou1, Miranda Smit2, Malachy G. Young3, Vicente Zamora3,

Ruurd T. Zijlstra1, and Eduardo Beltranena1,2*

1University of Alberta, 2Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, 3Gowans Feed Consulting

*Email:eduardo.beltranena@gov.ab.ca

Take Home Message

Brassica juncea is a yellow-seed canola cultivar with a thinner seed coat and therefore lower fibre. However, B. juncea has more than double the glucosinolate content of conventional canola (B. napus). Glucosinolates are bitter tasting compounds that may reduce feed intake. We thought that extrusion prior to expeller-pressing (EEP) could reduce their antinutritional effects. We therefore fed increasing levels (0, 5, 10, 15 or 20%) of extruded and expeller-pressed B. juncea cake to hogs from 38 kg to market weight. Each 5% increase in EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion linearly reduced feed intake by 46 g/d, weight gain by 8 g/d, carcass weight by 440 g, and loin depth by 0.6 mm, but did not affect feed:gain, dressing percentage, backfat thickness, lean yield, or carcass index. Extrusion prior to expeller pressing did not lessen the bitterness of a specific glucosinolate (3-butenyl) that is particularly high in B. juncea canola. We therefore recommend feeding hogs not more than 5 to 10% B. juncea cake, depending on cake cost. In contrast to these results, we have previously fed hogs up to 30% conventional, solvent-extracted canola meal without reducing growth performance or carcass traits.

Why B. juncea canola?

Yellow-seeded Brassica juncea has recently been labelled the third canola specie in Canada. B. juncea has agronomic advantages over conventional, dark-seeded B. napus.It matures earlier, is more thermo-tolerant and disease resistant, and it can be combined straight without the pods shattering. It is best suited for the warmer, lower rainfall, Brown and Dark Brown soils of the Prairies, where currently little canola production exists. B. junceahas a thinner seed coat and therefore lower fibre content than B. napus. Lower fibre content means one could feed greater inclusions to pigs. However, B. juncea has at least double the glucosinolate content of B. napuscanolaGlucosinolates arebitter compounds that may reduce feed intake, and affect thyroid, liver, and kidney functions.

Extrusion and expeller-pressing

Extrusion compresses feedstocks using a large screw within a cylindrical barrel through a die-end nozzle. The decreasing channel width between the screw and barrel combined with narrowing of the screw thread creates shearing force, high pressure, and generates heat to partially cook feedstuffs. Shearing disrupts cell wall structures (fibre) that trap nutrients, increasing protein denaturation, fat solubility, and mineral availability. Extrusion therefore improves the digestibility of feedstuffs protein, fat, and phosphorus for animals. Extrusion of canola seed prior to expeller pressing could further heat up and cook glucosinolates rendering them harmless. Expeller pressing canola seed is similar to conventional processing of canola meal, except that the last step, solvent-extraction, is not carried out. If seed is expeller-pressed rather than solvent-extracted, oil remains in the cake increasing its feed energy value. Greater oil content in expeller canola cake implies less need for costly fat or liquid oil supplementation in feeds to meet the energy requirements of pigs. We therefore thought that expeller-pressing combined with prior extrusion (EEP) of B. junceacanola seed might be beneficial for swine feeding.

Nutrients in EEP B. juncea canola cake

The B. juncea canola seed was sourced from southern Saskatchewan with the help of Viterra. The seed was extruded and expeller-pressed at Apex Nutri-Solutions Inc., Edgbert, AB. The ground cake was then trucked to Sunhaven Feed Mill at Irma, AB where the test diets were mixed. The EEP B. juncea canola cake fed provided 34% crude protein, 17% fat, and 6% fibre. Lysine content was 1.72% with lysine availability of 1.57%. The total glucosinolate content was considered high (10.9 vs. 5 µmol/gin conventional meal), 9.7 µmol/g being 3-butenyl.

Growing-finishing pig trial

We were interested in comparing the growth performance, carcass characteristics, and jowl fatty acid profile of hogs fed 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20% EEP B. juncea canola cake under commercial conditions. In total, 880 pigs with an initial body weight of 38 kg were housed in 40 pens, 22 pigs per pen, and had free access to 1 of 5 mash feed regimens until slaughter (120 kg). Test diets were best-cost formulated to provide 2.3 Mcal/kg NE and 4.2, 3.8, 3.6, 2.9 and 2.9 g standardized ileal digestible (SID) lysine/Mcal NE for Grower 1 (d 0 – 14), Grower 2 (d 15 – 35), Grower 3 (d 36 – 56), Finisher 1 (d 57 – 74), and Finisher 2 (d 75 to market weight) phases, respectively. Grower 1 and 2 diets included 25% and Grower 3, Finisher 1 and 2 diets included 20% of wheat distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Increasing EEP B. junceacanola cake inclusions substituted lentil, soybean meal and barley grain in diets that were balanced for energy and amino acids for each growth phase.

Trial results

Increasing EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion in the feed linearly reduced pig body weight at d 14, 35, 56, 74 and 85. Pigs fed 20% of EEP B. juncea canola cake were 2.7 kg lighter than controls at d 85. For the entire trial, each 5% increase in dietary EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion linearly reduced feed intake by 46 g/d and weight gain by 8 g/d, but did not affect feed:gain (Figure 1).

Each 5% increase in dietary EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion linearly reduced carcass weight by 440 g and loin depth by 0.6 mm, but did not affect dressing percentage, backfat thickness, lean yield, or carcass index (Table 1). Pigs fed 20% EEP B. juncea canola cake reached slaughter weight 1.4 d after controls fed no canola cake.

Canola seed is high in unsaturated oil. Feeding unsaturated fats to pigs reduces the firmness of pork fat. Soft pork fat causes miscuts during pork deboning and reduces the quality of processed pork products (i.e., oily sausage, mushy patties, stretchy raw bacon that shrinks too much at cooking). Therefore, pork fat quality should be considered when feeding high oil feedstuffs to hogs. In our experiment, increasing EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion linearly reduced saturated fat content, whereas it increased mono- and polyunsaturated fat content in jowl fat. Iodine value, an indicator of overall fat firmness (lower values are better and indicate more firmer fat in the carcass), increased linearly with increasing of EEP B. juncea canola cake inclusion, but it did not exceed the 70-75 g/100 g fat that it is still considered as acceptable pork fat firmness.

Cost vs. benefit analysis

At the same cost per kg of cake, increasing EEP B. juncea canola cake feed inclusion increased average diet cost. However, feed cost per kg of body weight gain was lower for all diets including EEP B. juncea canola cake versus the control diet. Gross revenue margin per hog after subtracting feed cost was highest feeding diets containing 5% EEP B. juncea canola cake.

Conclusions and recommendation

The results of this commercial-scale trial indicate that feeding increasing inclusions of up to 20% of EEP B. juncea canola cake to hogs linearly reduced overall growth performance. The reduction in weight gain observed could be explained by reduced feed intake. Thus, it cancelled out the beneficial effects from reduce fibre and increased feed energy due to the 17% remaining oil content in EEP B. juncea canola cake. Because backfat and lean yield were not affected, we attributed the reduced feed intake to a specific glucosinolate that tested high in EEP B. juncea canola cake. This glucosinolate (3-butenyl) is known to be bitterer than others found in conventional B. napus canola. Extrusion prior to expeller pressing of B. juncea canola cake did not lessen the negative effects of glucosinolates on hogs.

Increasing feed inclusions of EEP B. juncea canola cake increased unsaturated fatty acids in jowl fat, but did not compromise pork fat firmness. Due to the reduced feed intake, weight gain, and carcass weight, we recommend feeding not more than 5 to 10% extruded and expeller-pressed B. juncea canola cake to hogs, depending on cake cost. In contrast to these results, we have previously shown that hogs perform fine when fed up to 30% conventional, solvent-extracted canola meal (Western Hog Journal 2011, Vo. 32, No. 3 pp. 39-43).

Acknowledgments

We thank Calvin Boese and his team at Apex Nutri-Solutions Inc. for extruding and expeller pressing the seed. Special thanks to John and Neil Burden and Tanya Hollinger for caring for the pigs. We thank Sunhaven Farms for the use of their hogs, providing the feed, and mixing the test diets. Funding was provided by the Canadian Swine Research and Development Cluster (CSRDC) established within the Growing Canadian Agri-Innovation Program –Canadian Agri-Science Cluster Initiative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

High-fibre diets and immune stimulation increase threonine requirements in growing pigs

Submitted by Dan Columbus, PhD, Research Scientist, Prairie Swine Centre, Inc., and Michael Wellington, MSc, PhD Student, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan

Understanding the interaction between nutrition and pig health

With new legislation eliminating the use of in-feed antibiotics for growth promotion in Canada and increasing consumer pressure to reduce antibiotic use in animal agriculture, it is critical that we develop alternatives to antibiotic use in order to maintain animal performance and health during immune challenge. An increased understanding of the interaction of nutrition and animal robustness (i.e., the ability to cope with an immune challenge), therefore, will be a key component in efforts to replace and/or reduce antibiotic use. Specifically, nutrition-based alternatives to antibiotic use need to be identified. 

Pigs are continuously exposed to microbial pathogens and immune-stimulatory antigens that negatively impact animal productivity. Pigs exposed to immune challenge, without exhibiting any clinical signs of disease, show reduced appetite and growth and less efficient use of nutrients compared to healthy animals. Previous studies have estimated a reduction in lean growth of 20-35% and feed efficiency of 10-20% in growing pigs at sub-clinical levels of disease (Williams et al., 1997; Le Floc’h et al., 2009). This decrease in performance can have a substantial impact on profitability of producers. Stimulation of the immune system alters protein and amino acid metabolism and utilization, with amino acids redirected from growth towards supporting the immune response. Of the amino acids, glutamine, arginine, threonine, and aromatic and sulfur amino acids are of particular importance as precursors for synthesis of many critical components of the immune response (Reeds and Jahoor, 2001). It is thought that provision of these amino acids may be important for improving pig response and growth performance during times of stress and disease challenge.

Pork producers have been incorporating increased amounts of co-products from the milling and biofuel industries and other feedstuffs in swine rations. These feedstuffs have higher fibre content and variable protein content and digestibility which may have a detrimental effect on overall pig immune status and robustness. It has already been established that an increased level of threonine is required in high-fibre diets. However, the impact and interaction of factors such as dietary fibre and health status on requirements for specific amino acids that are used for the immune response are not well characterized.

What We Did

A nitrogen-balance study was conducted to determine threonine requirement for maximum protein deposition when dietary fibre and immune system stimulation (ISS) were present alone and in combination. Ninety barrows (20.5 ± 0.75 kg initial body weight) were randomly assigned to 1 of 10 wheat and barley-based dietary treatments (n = 9). Diets consisted of a low fibre (12.5% total dietary fibre) or high fibre (18.5% total dietary fibre from sugar beet pulp and wheat bran added at 15% of the diet in a 2:1 w/w ratio) with graded levels of threonine (0.49, 0.57, 0.65, 0.73 and 0.81% standardized ileal digestible) fed at 2.2 × maintenance metabolizable energy requirements. After an 8 day adaptation period, two 4 day nitrogen-balance collection periods (pre-ISS and ISS) were conducted. Immune stimulation was induced by repeated injections of increasing doses of E. colilipopolysaccharide. The threonine requirement was determined in each period based on the response in nitrogen retention to dietary threonine content using a quadratic regression statistical model.

What We Found

Feeding pigs high-fibre diets and stimulating the immune system both independently increased the threonine requirement for nitrogen retention when compared to low-fibre and non-stimulated pigs, resulting in an estimate of 0.78 and 0.76% SID threonine, respectively, compared to 0.68% SID threonine. The threonine requirement was also increased when pigs received both high-fibre diets and the immune stimulation (0.72% SID threonine), however, this was not further increased above what was determined for fibre and immune stimulation alone. The exact mechanism behind the interaction of fibre and immune challenge is unknown but may be indicative of a protective effect of fibre. Interestingly, stimulation of the immune system resulted in an increase in the variability of pig response to dietary threonine content, highlighting the difficulty in determining nutrient requirements and development of feeding programs during disease challenge. 

Conclusions

This study was the first to confirm an increased threonine requirement during immune challenge in pigs, and also the first to determine the interactive effects of both fibre and immune stimulation. This information will be important for the development of feeding programs that decrease feed costs and maintain animal performance while reducing reliance on antibiotics.

Acknowledgements

Funding for this research was provided by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Research and Development, Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, and Mitacs. General program funding provided to Prairie Swine Centre by Saskatchewan Pork Development Board, Alberta Pork, Manitoba Pork, Ontario Pork, and the Government of Saskatchewan.

Bringing home the… bagel?

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PETA’s most recent campaign seeks to change our language to be kinder and gentler to animals.

The “I’d rather go naked” campaign had garnered a lot of attention over the years – especially for its celebrity appeal.

Try to Relate to Who is On Your Plate
I'd Rather Go Make Than Wear Fur

Oh, PETA. I don’t even know where to begin. For the (luckily) uninitiated, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal activist group that was started in 1980 in the United States, and became very well-known after its work resulted in a police raid of a research facility using primates. That ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Animal Welfare Act in 1985, and turned PETA into a household name.

The organization focuses on four major areas – factory farming, fur farming, animal testing and the use of animals in entertainment. PETA is known for its extreme messaging – and I think in some ways, that has been our saving grace. Maybe. With more than six million members worldwide, PETA has clout. And celebrity power. And real celebrities behind the cause – and posing naked in front of it, too.

PETA’s “I’d rather go naked” campaign has been incredibly successful and the fur industry in the developed world has plummeted. The UK and Austria have banned fur farms entirely, and in the United States, the fur business is a shadow of what it once was. Emerging markets, however, have created a bit of a resurgence in fur demand as new economic prowess is displayed using old symbols of wealth.

PETA is very good at what it does – tapping into human empathy. And although we are not the only species to demonstrate empathy, we do seem to be both simultaneously the best (and sometimes the worst) at it. And yet, we aren’t the only ones with empathy – many animals have demonstrated empathy, especially primates, but others have too. In biology, for many years it was a faux pas to pair the words “animal” and “emotion” but research has shown without a doubt that animals do feel emotion. My dog, for instance, if I talk to the birds, becomes instantly jealous and if I am hugging someone in front of him, he tries to interrupt, vying for my attention. And we know this, and this is why their campaigns are so successful. 

Creeping their social media pages, even as someone who has covered livestock agriculture for more than a decade, the posts about animal testing truly got to me. And I don’t agree with animal testing for frivolous reasons – and PETA is literally the reason why most cosmetic and household product companies don’t test on animals anymore.

In other words, it’s a complex issue. The trouble is, PETA presents everything as very black and white, to the extreme. Never test on animals. Never eat meat. Never farm animals. Never wear fur. All suffering is equal. All pain is equal. These are their messages, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for discussion, or nuance. It garners a cult-like following or it alienates and the result is polarizing.

But PETA may have committed a marketing mistake with their latest campaign, “Bringing home the bagels”. Centred around replacing language that implies harm to animals with other words, the marketing gimmick has been laughed at and dismissed in almost every circle I’ve observed. 

Here are some of the suggestions:

It will be interesting to see if the movement gains any traction – but I suspect even the most devout PETA member is just a little embarrassed right now. But there may be a lesson in this for us – as an industry – in terms of our own messaging to the public. 

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If PETA wants to stop animal suffering, they’d be best not to waste their energy and money on a language the animals can’t even understand.
  2. Keep your messaging on point and geared to your most pressing objectives.
  3. Don’t attack people’s sentimental attachments. Language is a great example. People don’t like to change, and they don’t like to rewrite history.

Recently, I hung out at a meat counter. And believe me, I would feel silly telling this to anyone else, but I happen to know that anyone with a vested interest in the meat industry has this same hobby. Meat market means a whole different thing to us, and I think that’s a good thing. Anyway, when I ask people what country they like to buy their beef from, they generally answer with something like, “I only buy Canadian beef” and while they say this, their chest puffs out a little, the patriotism becomes almost palpable, and the air thickens, not unlike viscous maple syrup. And then I ask them where they buy their pork from, and things change. “Pork? I don’t know… is it Canada?”

We need to change this. We need to put our heads together, and put together a marketing campaign that will potentiate our pork patriotism in the same way. Of course, the loyalty to Canadian beef is much more a western phenomenon, thanks in part to the hugely successful Alberta Beef Producers campaigns, and also thanks to the BSE crisis. (For the record, and to not tempt fate, I am NOT advocating for any kind of similar crisis in our industry.) 

And I think now is an excellent time to do it. Canadians are relieved we have a new NAFTA, but they haven’t forgotten the drama, and the sense of exploitation that Trump left us feeling. That means the Canadian market is already primed and ready to receive our message – we just need to package it in the right language, and that won’t include the word “bagel”.

Fed up with high feed costs? Chew on this

By Geoff Geddes, for Swine Innovation Porc

Producers view feed costs as most Canadians view winter – something to complain about that never goes away. While we do get a short break from winter each year, feed costs are a constant, which explains the abundance of research on how to reduce that expense. What makes a recent study unique is that it looked at feed in relation to other factors on farm, with some surprising results.

“We have previously shown that feeding low, constant net energy (NE) diets to growout hogs resulted in greater revenue than feeding higher NE levels,” said Dr. Miranda Smit, technical writer/research assistant in the livestock research section at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Feed fights

The catch is that pigs must be able to increase feed intake to compensate for the lower dietary energy density. That can be easier said than done in a setting where they may face crowded pens and/or less feeder access that could affect feed intake. Is there a relationship among dietary NE level, stocking density, feeder space and sex? If so, what is it? The only thing researchers love more than questions are answers, so they went seeking some with a study of 960 barrows and 960 gilts. 

“Pigs were housed in 96 pens by sex – 18 or 22 pigs per pen – and fed either a low NE (2.2 Mcal) diet based on wheat/barley or a high NE (2.35 Mcal) diet based on wheat and field peas with some canola oil. Half the pens had two feeder spaces and the other half had three. Pen body weight and feed disappearance were measured for each growth phase.”

Though the results confirmed previous findings on some fronts, they also offered new insights of interest to producers. 

Eat more, grow the same?

“Once again, we found pigs on the low NE diet consumed more feed than those on the high NE regimen, without really changing growth rate. For stocking density, the 18 pigs per pen ate a bit more than those with 22 per pen and also had better growth rates, as overcrowding means pigs have fewer chances to eat and generally don’t grow as well.”

Adding an extra feeder in a pen did result in pigs eating more, yet the difference in average daily gain was negligible. 

“My best guess is that the added feeder raised the chance of feed being spilled. When you look at feed efficiency, it went down a bit with the third feeder as there were now three places where feed could be spilled. Pigs in those pens probably ate a bit more but spilled more feed as well.”

For Dr. Smit, the biggest surprise in their findings was what didn’t happen.

“I expected to see interactions for feed intake among three different things – stocking density, feeders and diet. In actuality, we saw no relationship between those parameters. What was neat to see is that regardless of whether you overcrowd your pigs or give them an extra feeder, you can use low NE diets and the pigs will do quite well with it. That was an interesting take away, as when we saw in previous trials that low NE diets worked and lowered feed costs, we assumed all the other factors had to be right for that to happen; but this study suggests otherwise.”

Though this project is further confirmation that diets based on low net energy value can save on feed costs, it’s important that the ratio of amino acids to energy isn’t substantially altered or results will not meet producer expectations. For those considering such a diet, Dr. Smit urges them to consult a nutritionist before taking the plunge.

As we add to our knowledge of feed and how to lower the expense, we might soon find that we don’t have high feed costs to complain about anymore. But don’t worry; we’ll always have the weather.

For more information on this research, please contact:

Dr. Miranda Smit
Email: miranda.smit@gov.ab.ca
Phone: 780 427-8409

Your Daily Bacon

Kitty Bacon
Always follow your dreams.
Bacon is the Duct Tape of Food
Could there be a more versatile meat?
This is real. We checked.
Bacon Recall
Think about that, vegetarians!
If we had to choose between wood for heat or bacon and freezing, you know what we’d choose. As long as we had other wood to cook the bacon over.
Just a Dog Eating a Bacon Strip
Okay, it isn’t his tongue, but if it were, he could lick our faces all he wanted.
If you receive this from a suitor, it means they're a keeper.
If you receive this from a suitor, it means they’re a keeper.

True Crime!

By Buddy Simmons 
We here at Your Daily Bacon are pretty diligent about scouring the internet for interesting pig tails, er, we mean pig tales, but for this edition, we found the pickings to be a bit slim. But fear not, we did discover a few stories of interest from days past that slipped beneath our radar, so we are happy (relieved) to be able to pass them on to you.

This first one is actually pretty recent. A report published on November 14thof this year revealed the story of assault and bacon battery. It seems that an unnamed woman who worked in the kitchen at a McDonald’s in Bluffton South Carolina, decided to snack a bit on the bacon that was presumably awaiting to be served. Her manager spotted her helping herself to some free tasty pork-product, and instructed her to just cut it out, after which the hungry worker acknowledged the reprimand…and then helped herself again to another couple crispy strips.
Now, we know what you are thinking, the same thing as we did. “Who could blame her?”

While bacon is extremely tempting, in a civilized society we wait for somebody to offer it to us, not steal it. The bacon-snatcher apparently was not a follower of this code.  And as a result, the manager told the woman’s boss. (That bit is a little confusing, at McDonald’s wouldn’t the manager BE the boss?)
Anyway, in retaliation, the bacon thief, upon learning she had been ratted out, backed the manager into a corner and proceeded to attempt to shove hot crispy bacon into the manager’s face. Again you are probably thinking as we did, “Um, what’s the crime in that? Bacon is great, who cares about the delivery method?” But there is a difference between somebody shoving bacon into your mouth and into your face, after-all. The former is a tasty, if perhaps a bit forced, favour, the latter is a ticket to a burn-treatment center.
Naturally the manager fought the bacon-crazed employee who then responded by slapping the manager. With the bacon still in her hands. As the report noted, if the manager had just eaten the bacon coming at her, the unruly employee would have been pretty much disarmed. It is unknown if she also shrieked, “Do you want fries with that?”

The police were called, and a warrant for the bacon barbarian was issued. When apprehended, she will face charges of assault and battery.
The story did not contain a resolution, so for all we know she may still be at large. Who knows, she may have headed for the Canadian border to escape prosecution. So just in case, if you see a wild-eyed woman eating a BLT on the streets, play it safe and avoid her! Or at least do not ask her for a bite of her sandwich, tempting as it may be to do so.

That is not the only case of meat mayhem. In Goldsboro, North Carolina, during an argument, a man’s girlfriend slapped him upside the head with an entire package of bacon. The boyfriend did not press charges, probably because hey – free bacon! Apparently, the further south you go, the nuttier people get. The tale is insane. After all, who would waste perfectly good bacon by using it as a weapon?

And in where we deduced may have been in the city of Madison, Wisconsin (forgive us for the sketchy details, we just dig this stuff up, we can’t always figure out the whereabouts unless it is explicitly stated and bacon crime is often a deeply shrouded mystery), a man – are you ready for this – named Thomas Bacon was arrested for allegedly assaulting another man for eating the last piece of breakfast sausage.

We also learned that back in 2014, a man in Staten Island, New York was arrested for attempting to steal 48(!) packages of bacon from a grocery store, hiding the merchandise beneath his clothes. Along with some beer and dog food. We can imagine one store clerk commenting to another, “Hey did that guy weigh 300 pounds when he came in here?!?” At least the thief thought of his dogas well, we guess. So he can’t be ALL bad. 

Next, in 2013, a woman was arrested in Athens, Georgia at a Piggily Wiggily grocery store for swiping five packs of bacon and two packages of chicken wings. When observant employees attempted to confront her, she sprayed them with pepper spray. She had to be insane. After-all, she could have gotten two extra packs of bacon if she had left the chicken wings behind. She ended up receiving five years in the pig-penitentiary for her misdeeds.

Finally, in 2010, in Surrey, England, a crook broke into a home and stole a pack of bacon from the refrigerator. He left a single uncooked slice hanging from the doorknob of the house, indicating that he was not entirely heartless.

And that concludes out forensic time-travel into the world of purloined pork crimes. We’ll leave you with this bit of advice: keep your bacon locked up!