Economic feasibility of outdoor weaned pig farming in West Texas
Mutai, Ronald M.
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The cotton industiy in West Texas is well stmctured with a well-organized production input sector, giiming sector, cottonseed oil milling, shipping and warehousing sectors. The cotton industry includmg alhed industries is the backbone of the West Texas economy. Cotton farming is faced with problems in rising production costs (through use of expensive fertihzers), competition from foreign grown cotton, boll weevil infestation, and a rapidly dimmishing source of irrigation water. The West Texas region appears favorable for hog fanning since it has vast flat lands with few or no rivers, thus ensuring minimal non-point pollution problems (from manure and urine runoff). The area is sparsely populated which ensures that odor problems from swine manure will be minimum. Although pig fanning in the West Texas region appears to offer a profitable altemative to cotton farming, there are a number of potential disadvantages. Grain is very expensive here because West Texas is a deficit region (because of the large demand by cattle feedlots) and grain must be shipped in (thus incurring fransportation costs above the shipping region's price). Weaned pig farming, which is looked at in this study, will be an excellent altemative for West Texas since it does not require large amoimts of grain. Weaned pig farming requires less grain (than feeder pig or farrow-to-finish farms) since weaned pigs are sold off at an early age (15-21 days). Another disadvantage of pig fanning is that when sows are bred in West Texas, since there are no markets for them, they would have to be shipped to outside markets (e.g., the Midwest or California) for fiirther fattening or slaughter. Plans by Seaboard, Inc. to build a new pork packing plant between Dumas and Amarillo will certainly atfract finishing operations to the region, which will provide local demand for weaned pigs. It has to be noted though that for hog production to develop and grow in the West Texas region, the enterprise has to be economically viable. Hog fanning on the Texas High Plains has to be able to compete economically with hog farming in the Midwest and at the same time be able to be more lucrative than cotton farming in this region. That is, producers will have to be able to produce their pigs at an equal, or lower, cost than indoor farmers do in the Midwest and make a higher retum on investment than cotton fanners for outdoor pig fanning to become established in the region.