Pigs: Hitting correct kill-out weight
Focus on a target to aid profits at factory
There are reports that carcass weights in factories are averaging 81.5kg for the first four months of this year. Producers are asking, 'what is the optimum live weight at which to slaughter their pigs?' This is not an easy question to answer. The processor and individual deals done with processors are very important factors.
The slaughter weight of Irish pigs has increased in recent years. The average carcass weight of pigs slaughtered in Ireland last year was 80kg (table 1, below), up from 64kg in 1970. Most other EU countries routinely castrate male pigs destined for the meat counter, thus allowing much heavier weights without running the risk of boar taint. However, this practice is becoming less acceptable and alternatives are being considered. Ireland and the UK produce entire male pigs and, as our slaughter weights were traditionally low, this safeguarded us from boar taint problems.
What is the current
The slaughter weight of pigs in Ireland is dictated largely by the minimum/maximum weight limits set by the main processors. Each processor has its own distinct range.
Table 2 (right) shows the minimum and maximum carcass limits for pigs at one processor (each processor will have different weight thresholds). It also shows the maximum and minimum liveweight bands that producers should use to avoid price penalties.
Failure by a producer to supply pigs within the maximum and minimum weight range can be costly. Each processor has its own system for making deductions on overweight and underweight carcasses, but generally the further carcass weight is outside the optimum range the greater the penalty.
Meeting an upper carcass weight limit of 85.5kg