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Big Pork Gets Bigger

Spencer, IA: The annual Pork Powerhouse ranking by Successful Farming magazine shows a growth of 132,600 sows by the largest 25 U.S. hog operations in 2013. That’s more than twice the growth in 2012 (62,000 sows).

Analysts looking at the “Powerhouse” report say even more telling is that 17 of the top 25 operations added sows this year versus just nine in 2012.

Seven of the top 25 are also pork packers. Together they own 3.18 million sows, or about 55% of the total U.S. breeding inventory. Smithfield tops the list with 868,000 sows.

In a related story, a Smithfield spokesman says the company’s acquisition by China-based Shuanghui International Holdings Limited won’t affect Smithfield’s sow numbers. Joe Szaloky, vice president for business development, says Smithfield’s focus is on being more productive.

One change Smithfield has made is to quit feeding ractopamine on its Eastern farms. The feed additive makes hogs grow lean meat faster, but it’s banned in China. Szaloky says there are no immediate plans to eliminate ractopamine on Smithfield farms outside of the East Coast.