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Production Winds Down At Killarney Site

“They’re going to sit empty for a while.”

– MARVIN MAGWOOD

Two sow barns owned by Manitoba Pork Marketing Co-op Inc. will close at the end of March after Hytek Ltd. opted not to renew its lease.

Around 2,500 top breeding sows are being relocated to a new home in the eleventh hour, while the remaining sows will be sold as culls.

Hytek Limited, which has been leasing the two farrow-finishing barns outside of Killarney from Manitoba Pork Marketing Co-op Inc. for the past decade, decided last year to end their leases due to the flatlining economics of the hog industry.

Two barns, ESS 2 Shiraz and ESS 1 Merlot, which held some 7,000 breeding sows, are set to close now at the end of March. It was with some relief that management recently announced the sale of their top female breeding sows.

Marvin Magwood, western Manitoba production manager for Hytek, said 2,500 sows have been sold to a local hog producer and will continue to produce. “They have been receiving them (the sows) for about a month, as a continual flow, and they will all be delivered by the end of March. These are our best young sows.”

The remaining 4,500 older sows, which will all have farrowed out within a few weeks, are destined for Parks Livestock near Blumenort once the piglets are weaned, an assembly yard that has regularly accepted the culls from the Hytek barns over the years, said Magwood.

“Liquidation is underway, and the older sows are going to slaughter. They’ll probably end up as sausage in the U. S.,” said Magwood.

The original lease with Manitoba Pork was scheduled to finish at the end of January, 2010, but was extended by the co-op owners until the end of March to allow the Hytek sows to finish farrowing before the barns closed down. The last female is expected to give birth to her piglets at the end of February.

“Our empty date is March 31. Everything will be cleaned up and gone by then,” said Magwood.

The weanlings from these remaining sows will likely be sold into the U. S. as well, in a hog market that now looks like it may finally be gaining some strength.

“The market has turned around quite a bit,” said Magwood. “The industry is slowly improving. It’s not getting worse. It’s almost breaking even, depending on people’s cost of production. If costs are high, they may still be in the red.”

Fifteen of the 30 staff employed at the two barns have already found new employment in the area. Ten face a probable layoff in early March, while five will continue to work for Hytek until the doors finally close. The good news is that there is no shortage of jobs in the area for them once the lights go off.

“Lots of (pork) producers have been calling, and saying that they have a job available,” said Magwood. In the meantime, there are no immediate plans for the two good-quality, modern barns owned by Manitoba Pork that will soon be vacant. If Hytek had owned the barns outright, they would have been the last ones to close, Magwood added.

“They’re going to sit empty for a while,” said Magwood.

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