Kansas State University (KSU) researchers have developed a marketing tape for producers to use to market hogs at the correct weight and capture the most dollars at slaughter.

Estimating market weights visually is very difficult for even the most trained eye, says Mike Tokach, KSU swine Extension specialist.

Weigh scales are the best answer but are cumbersome to move from barn to barn.

“We developed a Market Pig Weight Tape to aid producers in determining the average weight of a group of pigs,” he remarks.

“The weight tape should not be used to determine the weight of an individual pig, because there can be an error of as much as 20 to 30 lb. in the measurement of a single pig,” explains Tokach.

Rather, if you measure from flank to flank on 20 to 30 pigs, the measurement becomes quite accurate. “The tape will allow you to determine the average weight of a group of pigs,” he adds.

The two best ways to use the tape:

Take the flank measurement on the 20 heaviest pigs in the group to determine whether they are ready to market; or

Take the flank measurement on 30 randomly chosen pigs to determine the average weight of pigs in the barn before starting to market pigs.

Tokach points out that if average pig weight is 220 lb. or greater, 10-11% of the barn will be 30 lb. greater than the average weight, and 4-5% will be 40 lb. greater than the average weight.

For example, if a group of 600 pigs weighs an average of 245 lb., around 66 pigs will weigh more than 275 lb., and 30 of those pigs will weigh more than 285 lb.

To use the flank tape, follow the same basic procedures for using the tape for gestating sows. Take the measurement from the bottom of the flank on one side of the pig over the highest point of the back, to the bottom of the flank on the other side. The tape should be loosely placed over the back and not pulled down tightly. Tapes can be ordered from KSU by e-mailing Lois Schreiner at lschrein@ksu.edu or by calling Schreiner at (785) 532-1267.