It’s been tough the last few years to find a profit while marketing hogs. Many producers have dug deep to find ways to reduce their costs. Some have simply left the industry. For others, the answer has been to find a niche market serving a particular consumer need.
Niche marketing offers hard-pressed producers a chance to get something better than commodity prices for their hogs in a tough economic environment. But niche marketing isn’t easy, especially as it applies to antibiotic-free production – as producers pointed out when they spoke to writer Mary Baxter for this month’s cover story on two different niche programs.
Making the system work, keeping scrupulous records and maintaining extreme biosecurity are among the challenges. Protecting their niche is yet another. Baxter’s story starts on page 6.
A very few niche marketers are feeding Omega-3 to their pigs to benefit consumers but, as regular nutrition columnist Janice Murphy points out, feeding fish meal can benefit pork production as well. Murphy’s column on the first study of its kind to demonstrate that feeding sows a diet containing Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil can increase litter size starts on page 21.
Veterinarian Ernest Sanford, our herd health writer, continues his series on diseases that strike pigs in the barn. This month, he looks at the best way to deal with hard-to-treat Mycoplasma hyorhinis, which often fails to respond to antibiotics.