4 days ago
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Sold a boar today; contrarian small farm thinking
It's interesting. There's definitely a contrarian movement in small farms. When meat prices go up, people buy livestock and raise it themselves. The reasons are varied, but the main reason that livestock prices rise (and meat prices) is the price of feed. So much of the pork and chicken we produce isn't really affected by the weather, it's raised in buildings that are climate controlled -- so the only real variable is the cost to bring them to market, and that's feed costs.
What I've noticed is a growing number of people with small acreage (1-5 acres) who are considering breeding, and asking for good quality stock to do so.
With the rise in feed prices, I'm doing several things to keep my costs down. between 30 and 40% of my feed at this time is fruits and vegetables from produce departments; I'm going to be more intensively planting crops that I can feed to my hogs, and I'm also carefully culling my lower producing animals. But I'm going to bet that pork will be pretty popular this summer as it has been, so I'm going to reserve a larger number of weaners to bring to market as BBQ pigs.
When the cost of feed rises, agribusiness tends to reduce herd sizes, and this helps the price go up, too. So I'm going to listen a little to what my customers are telling me and follow their lead a little -- I'm going to have more pigs for market in June/July/August than I would normally because I'm betting that other producers in this area are going to reduce their herds out of fear of feed costs, and I'm thinking that the market (and prices) will be better this summer for it.