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About the Swine program

University of Minnesota researcher with pigs

The Minnesota pork industry is distinctly different from that of other Midwestern states. The progressive nature of Minnesota pork producers and willingness to cooperate and network together and consider new technologies have contributed to pig production in Minnesota increasing, while production in other states is declining. The Extension swine team works cooperatively across several departments and research and outreach centers at the University of Minnesota to bring University research to an audience ranging from producers to processors to consumers.

University of Minnesota Extension offers numerous trainings, certification programs, and seminars, often in cooperation with other universities and organizations on topics such as nutrition, facilities, animal welfare, and manure management. Such education is offered both in person and through materials that producers can use with employees at a farm site. Some examples include:

About Minnesota pork production

Minnesota pork producers are part of a progressive and innovative industry. The men and women involved in swine production provide a nutritional protein source to domestic and international markets, and their businesses generate billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to local economies. They are nationally recognized for adopting science-based technologies to shelter, feed and care for their pigs.

Modern swine facilities are designed by professional agricultural engineers who focus on animal comfort and environmental protection. Minnesota is also home to many of the nation’s leading swine veterinarians and researchers.

Second in value

Nationally, Minnesota ranks second in the value of hogs its farmers sell for processing into meat products such as bacon, chops, ribs and roasts. Minnesota surpassed North Carolina in market share, as measured by the value of its pig sales, in 2006.

Third in numbers

Minnesota continues to rank third in hog numbers. Minnesota pork producers marketed 15 million hogs last year. Iowa and North Carolina rank first and second in hog numbers, while Illinois is fourth and Indiana is fifth.

Swine operations, employment and economics

Swine operations

The Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service recorded 4,700 Minnesota farming operations with one or more hogs in 2007. In Minnesota, 79 percent of the hogs are raised on operations that market 2,000 head or more a year.

Several factors contribute to swine operations raising more pigs, including: the necessity to raise a greater number of livestock to meet family living expenses; the adoption of technology that makes production on a larger scale possible; and the trend toward specialization in farming.

Employment

The pork industry supports 22,500 Minnesota jobs. These jobs include services for hog management and care, accountants, nutritionists, agronomists, meat processing, construction and related building fields, trucking and feed mill operations.

Economics

In 2007, Minnesota pork producers earned $2 billion in gross income from hog sales. This is the revenue received by the farmer to pay expenses. Each $1 in gross income from Minnesota pork production generates another $2.80 into the Minnesota economy, for an annual economic contribution of $7.6 billion.

Top ten Minnesota pork producing counties

  1. Martin
  2. Blue Earth
  3. Nicollet
  4. Nobles
  5. Brown
  6. Mower
  7. Jackson
  8. Freeborn
  9. Pipestone
  10. Rock

These southern Minnesota counties provide several advantages:

Processing facilities

Minnesota pork producers are fortunate to have two major pork processing plants within its borders: Hormel Foods, based in Austin, Minn., and Swift & Company, with operations in Worthington, Minn. In nearby Sioux Falls, S.D., John Morrell has its largest pork processing plant. Research shows that each job at the farm level in hog production creates two supporting jobs in pork processing.

Grain consumption

Minnesota pigs consumed approximately 169 million bushels of corn and 60 million bushels of soybeans in 2007. Pork producers blend together a variety of feed ingredients to provide pigs a balanced diet. Corn, and sometimes barley, oats or wheat, provide dietary energy, and soybean meal provides protein. Vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous, are also added to the rations.

Swine manure as a fertilizer

University of Minnesota research has shown economic and environmental benefits of using swine manure as a fertilizer. A 12-year research project found that swine fertilizer produces a yield advantage for corn crops, when compared to commercial fertilizers. This means that swine manure can help corn growers increase their profits through higher yields and reduce their cost of purchased fertilizer.

A separate University of Minnesota study also highlights the environmental benefits of using swine manure. The various organic materials found in swine manure helps build and maintain soil structure, which aids in water holding capacity, improves soil aeration and reduces soil erosion.

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