Iowa State University's swine business records summary for 1998 confirms what those involved in pork production already know all too well. The year made for very tough sledding.

The average producer in the summary of farrow-to-finish farms received $33.43/cwt. for a market hog. The average cost of production was $37.46/cwt. Average market weight was 254 lb.

Losses may be somewhat exaggerated as the records reflect inventory values as of Dec. 31, 1998. "That ended up being just about the very bottom," notes Tom Baas, Iowa State extension swine specialist.

The report also does not incorporate financial data such as gains from hedging accounts, says Baas.

The losses occurred despite some extremely low cost of production numbers, he notes.

The top 10% of operations posted a cost of production just over $30/cwt. Low feed prices helped keep production costs down. The top 10% used only $19.93 worth of feed per cwt. of pork produced.

The average herd in the summary had a 184-head breeding female inventory and weaned 16.6 pigs/female/year. These herds weaned 1.91 litters/female/year with an average of 8.69 pigs/litter.

Total pounds of feed per cwt. of pork produced was 351 lb. for the average herd. The average cost of diets per cwt. was $6.41.

This year's farrow-to-finish summary included numbers from 85 operations.

Iowa State also compiled summaries on wean-to-finish, breed-to-feeder pig, wean-to-feeder, breed-to-wean and feeder pig-to-finish operations. The full set of reports may be accessed at the Iowa Pork Industry Center's Web site at www.extension.