Indiana Packers Corporation will shut down its Delphi facility joining a growing list of meat processing plants closing over COVID-19 concerns.
The shutdown will last no more than two weeks, according to Jeff Feirick, Vice President Corporate Planning for Indiana Packers.
Indiana Packers issued an announcement on the closing Friday afternoon.
“This decision was made in light of the increasing number of positive tests of COVID-19 in neighboring communities and reports that Indiana is closing in on the expected peak of infections,” Feirick stated. “To date, IPC has had a total of 15 confirmed positive cases.”
With the closing of Tyson Foods in Logansport, this will mean no major hog processors in the area will be processing meat.
“It’s going to affect all farmers in the long run,” said Cass County Farm Bureau President Kurt Wilson.
Hog farmers will need to adjust feed for hogs ready for slaughter so they don’t gain too much weight for meat plants to handle.
A market hog is ideally 260 to 310 pounds when it goes to the processing plants.
That means less feed and more corn than soybeans in the feed to make it bland.
By doing that in addition to cutting rations, the hogs won’t want to eat as much, he said.
“It could cause problems with corn and soybean (farmers),” Wilson said.
And those farmers are already having cost problems due to export issues.
Hog farmers also need to figure out what they’ll do with their stock as there will be pigs about to be born and no room for them.
“The hog industry is always on a tight schedule,” he said. “Those pigs are already in the pipeline.”
Farmers usually have two sets of barns to meet with sows’ cycle of births, two a year.
After being weaned from their mothers after 14 days, the piglets then go to a feeding barn/finishing facility to get to the proper weight, which takes five-and-a-half to six months.
This dual facility also allows the farmers to wash down one set of barns for the next batch of piglets coming in.
Because hog farmers aren’t just continually putting hogs in the same place without cleansing between, the United States doesn’t have the problems with swine disease that other countries do.
However, the sows have already been bred and are about to produce a new litter of piglets.
“You can’t just tell them to no have babies,” Wilson said.
That may mean euthanizing the piglets, similarly to what happened in 2017 with oversupply and low hog prices.
Piglets were killed eradicate the pseudo-rabies that began going around.
The Pharos-Tribune will update this story when additional details are made available.