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What to do if you can't get your pigs to slaughter during the COVID-19 pandemic

Swine experts from the University of Minnesota have developed guidance for producers that may be faced with holding market hogs longer than usual due to pork packing plant closures.

6 May 2020, at 10:56am

COVID-19 has disrupted pig harvest at commercial packing plants in the spring of 2020. Pig farmers are now offering live pigs at or near market weight to neighbours, consumers, and community members at very low prices.

Consumers that purchase live pigs are arranging harvest and processing at local meat lockers. A list of small locker plants can be found on Minnesota of Department of Ag's website. Due to great demand on meat locker services, consumers may need to wait several days to several weeks before pigs can be harvested. During this wait, consumers will need to care for heavy pigs to maintain pig welfare, control pig growth to prevent them from getting too big, and preserve pork quality.

man feeds pigs in an outdoor, small-scale pig pen

The University of Minnesota swine experts have provided tips to achieve these objectives, assuming pigs weigh at least 240 lbs. These tips cover feeding, equipment, environmental needs and biosecurity, to ensure the pigs are kept comfortable and healthy up to slaughter.