Home News Pig farmers running out of space, will start euthanizing pigs over slowed pandemic demand

Pig farmers running out of space, will start euthanizing pigs over slowed pandemic demand

by J.C McCallum

There are all sorts of weird consequences from the government shutting down the economy in many sectors, and one of those is that there is going to be a meat shortage even as pig farmers are forced to euthanize their pigs. That’s because there’s far less demand for their product:

COVID-19 outbreaks have closed around a dozen meat plants around the country in the past week, according to The Wall Street Journal, including three Tyson Foods Inc. TSN, -3.15% plants, while other facilities have curtailed operations to deal with or avert outbreaks of the deadly pathogen. Grocery executives have warned that supplies of some products could run short within two weeks, the report said.

Altogether, closures and partial shutdowns have taken out around 30% of the country’s hog-slaughter capacity, said Mensink, who is president of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. That equates to around 150,000 hogs a day, or 750,000 a week. Bloomberg reported that hog producers in eastern Canada have began euthanizing hogs due to bottlenecks there.

Some farmers are already trying to change their feed in order to slow the growth of the pigs:

Producers are already changing ingredients in an effort to slow the growth of hogs and cattle. David Mensink, who raises around 80,000 hogs a year near Preston, Minn., said that around two weeks ago he began removing distillers corn oil, a byproduct of ethanol production, from rations.

“It’s probably the first time in my life I’ve ever changed a ration to make a pig grow slower,” he told MarketWatch, in a phone interview as he took a break from planting corn on Thursday. “We usually do all we can to provide the right nutrition to make that pig grow as efficiently as we can.”

But that may not be enough:

Despite those efforts, Mensink and other farmers have warned that shutdowns will create a backup that will likely force producers to begin euthanizing hogs.

Animals, of course, don’t stop growing once they reach slaughter weight. Oversize animals face steep discounts from meatpapackers—consumers don’t want oversize hams or other cuts of meat — and producers also face the prospect of overcrowding.

Here’s more about the problems at meat packing plants:

So enjoy that bacon now, it may be unavailable soon. On the other hand, Mike Pence says we should be opened back up in a few weeks…

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