How Big is Big Enough to Make a Living in Pork Production?

University of Nebraska 2005 Swine Day Report. The size of pork production units in Nebraska increased dramatically from 1989 to 2002. In 1989, producers who marketed less than 1,000 hogs per year held 61% of Nebraskas hog inventory. By 2002, only 23% of Nebraskas hogs were held by those producers. Many decisions affect the size of a swine production unit. Basic to any decisions on size is whether the enterprise is profitable and can provide a reasonable living to those owning and working in the unit. Data from the Nebraska Swine Enterprise and Records Analysis program suggests that Nebraska farrow-to-finish producers needed to increase the size of their herds by 51% or half again as large to maintain the level of income over living for the period 1989 to 2002. During this period, the average Nebraska swine enterprise grew larger than predicted if growth was in response to maintain family living expenses. While maintaining a living may be one reason for growth, it appears there are other important drivers of growth in production unit size.