Swine Niche Production

David Stender, Field Specialist/Swine, Northwest Area

Swine niche marketing is a huge part of sustainable hog production.  Niche marketers typically receive a premium price in return for implementing specific production protocols.  The protocols sometimes prohibit the use of cost saving technologies.  No documentation exists verifying that the premium covers the potential extra cost in a niche market system.  One of the most common traits of niche marketers is that they limit the use of antibiotics.  Without the use of antibiotics, herd health and management becomes more important to these systems.  I have been working on two important areas, first to start obtaining records documenting the reward, risk and return from these operations.  The other area is to teach management strategies to increase success and competitive position of niche operations.  Over the past year, I have made presentations at 5 meetings to over 400 niche producers.  After a year of such trainings I surveyed over 200 niche producers that have attend a session during the year, 40 surveys were returned and summarized.
As a result of the niche production presentation the following changes in swine niche operations have been documented in follow-up survey:
-- look at rations; --not feed pigs as hard; --set production targets; --fill the farrowing pens; --get rid of non-production sow; --feeder adjustment; -- tighten up farrowing time;  -- tighter all-in-all-out; -- more boar power- shorter exposure time; -- upgrade feeders for less wastage; -- get better handle on feed costs; -- cut back on soybean meal;  -- examining feed ration; -- analyze the operation as a niche system; -- change our feed ration; -- clean pens more often; -- longer lactation period;  -- attempt to improve feed efficiency and widen margin;  -- turn over herd with new genetics; -- feed cost and feed rations; check feeders and waterers; -- records; -- using less creep feed; -- feed rations for lower lean gain pigs.
Thirty operations, 75% of respondents have adjusted feeders more often attempting to reduce wastage.

        Twelve (30%) implemented a change in pig flow trying to batch farrow groups of sows to narrow the range in weaning ages within a group.
        Eleven (28%) have started to implement all-in, all-out when possible on my operation.
        Twenty (50%) have cleaned my waterer more often providing clean fresh water.
        Seventeen (43%) made adjustments in the nutrition program to help lower the cost of gain.
        Fifteen (38%) have decided to start keeping records.
        Thirteen (33%) have made some other change in my operation not listed above.
The values of the changes are reported:

Thirty-four out of forty estimated a value to their operation.  These are small operations averaging about 20 sows farrow to finish.  Over 80% estimated the value at $500 or over.  The value of benefit sited by these sample 34 operations totaled $35,310.

March 8, 2005
108 -- Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu