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Commodity Investing: Maximizing Returns through Fundamental Analysis by SARAH MULHOLLAND, JESS GASPAR, JOHN ECKSTEIN, ADAM DUNSBY

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CHAPTER 11

Hogs

Hogs, along with goats and sheep, are the oldest known domesticated animal food source, with evidence of domestication dating back 10,000 years. Since the time of domestication, hog-raising has taken many forms, from forest pasturing and mast feeding in Europe to garbage scavenging in Asia and industrial farming in the modern era. The greatest changes (other than the original domestication, of course!) have certainly been made in the past 50 years. Today's hog farming is high-tech big business. Long gone are most of the small family farms. In their place are massive buildings containing thousands of hogs under a common roof. The rigorous application of scientific and management principles has driven a spectacular leap forward in pork production productivity.

RAISING HOGS

For most of us, our interest in hogs peaks at the kitchen table when we are contemplating the bacon, pork chops, or underappreciated scrapple on our plates. The following two sections lay out how your friendly neighborhood hog transforms into our favorite foods, how this has changed over time, and what this has meant for prices. This transformation is demonstrated in Figure 11.1.

Gestation for sows lasts approximately 16 weeks and yields on average 9 piglets. After farrowing, the piglets nurse for two to three weeks, and they are then weaned. Sows are ready to be inseminated again within a week of weaning, and the reproductive cycle for them is restarted. Meanwhile, weaned piglets are fed a diet ...

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