A Foundation for Survival

Mike Yacentiuk, P.Ag., Swine Specialist

As with any endeavor, it is necessary to have a set of clear operating principles in place that form a solid foundation upon which a successful business can be built. Once these principles are established they will greatly enhanced the task of attaining future goals.

The following points should be included in forming the base for survival in today's dynamic pork industry.

  • Marketing - Financial institutions are increasingly requiring their clients to utilize risk reduction tools to maintain cash flow and reduce erosion of equity during periods of market decline. Popular forms of risk reduction include forward pricing of pigs and contract production.
  • Genetics - It is imperative that communication about pork quality exists between producers and marketers. Optimal returns, for all involved in the pork chain, can only be realized if pork marketers are obtaining the quality and quantity of pork that their customers are demanding. Choosing stock of improved genetics will aid in meeting the needs of all parties involved.
  • Herd Health - In order for the full genetic potential to be expressed, an animal must remain healthy. A sound disinfection program as well as strict bio-security of the premises is of vital importance. Recent consumer trends are placing increased pressure on the pig producer to reduce or eliminate antibiotic use for the growth enhancement of the pig.
  • Record Keeping - Accurate and current production and financial records must not only be possessed, but also employed in management decisions. As part of this package realistic goals should be written out and incorporated into the farms business plan.
  • Nutrition - Feed accounts for the largest portion of total as well as variable costs of production. Controlling feed cost (ration cost and feed efficiency) is the only way to substantially influence variable cost. Feed wastage must be carefully monitored and management techniques such as all-in/all-out production, split-sex feeding and phase feeding should, where possible, be implemented into the farm plan. Rations that are formulated to utilize opportunity ingredients as well as correctly meeting the nutritional requirements of the animals will greatly assist in controlling feed costs. Care should be taken to prevent the overformulation of diets.
  • Environment - Regardless of the farm size, environmental awareness should be an integral part of the farm plan. Workable guidelines and environmental legislation is in place in Manitoba. Everyone should have a thorough understanding of recent legislation and how it will impact their farm.
  • Labour - In order to remain competitive owners and staff alike should receive scheduled training and updates to stay abreast of new industry technology.
  • Quality Assurance - Recent world developments have only strengthened the call for increased food safety measures. Maintaining and building market share is a constant challenge and it is necessary to convince processors and consumers, at home and abroad, that our pork offers consistent quality and is safe.
  • Advisors - Every farm should seek out and routinely discuss issues with consultants. The best time to seek advice is before a problem surfaces. Veterinarians and professional agrologists possess a wealth of knowledge and are available to provide an expert opinion in all areas of swine production.