Pampered Pigs Produce Perfect Porkers



Friday, yesterday was another train wreck for the stocks and commodities. The Dow fell 900 points and the CRB and Goldman Sachs indexes were lower and testing levels not seen in 19 to 20 years ago. Crude oil, a leading indicator for commodities per se ended within a blink of a new, 20 year low. And once again, the commodity markets bearing the brunt of the most intense volatility anywhere are hogs and cattle that ended the session basically limit down.


Below is a chapter from my book, Back To The Futures with a chapter entitled, Pampered Pigs Produce Perfect Porkers. I penned the article on August 14, 1986 back in the old days when the metals and currencies were the most volatile markets on the board and not the critters. Hope you find my ramblings from long ago of interest.

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Pampered Pigs Produce Perfect Porkers


As any writer would, I always get a kick out of seeing a bureaucracy foul up or doing something ridiculous. It gives me something to write about. The next four chapters cover just that. This one was written August 14, 1986.

Readers of Commodity Insight know that for the past several months, I have been moaning about the extreme volatility that has gripped the commodity markets. Every market and commodity is in a constant state of turmoil where everything is either very bullish or very bearish. Trading in this type of market environment can make for sleepless nights.

The volatility has become so commonplace that Im almost used to it. It is still difficult, however, to factor this erratic behavior into price projections. Under such conditions, prices rise and fall more than usual because market volatility is not so much a fundamental force as a psychological force.


Fundamental forces, however, are also not so easy to gauge, nor to understand. Some fundamentals can be downright confusing. Take, for example, the findings of some animal researchers at the University of Illinois.

According to animal science professor Stanley Curtis, hogs that are petted and receive toys are happier and more content. Additionally, pigs that are allowed to leave their pens and explore their surroundings are much easier to handle at the time of marketing

As part of the study, certain pigs were allowed to roam outside their pens for a few minutes each week. The researchers also hung rubber hoses (pig toys) in the pens of some pigs. Still other pigs were petted and stroked by the people for about ten minutes each week.

According to Curtis, the ten minute petting sessions and toy trifling leg to the most relaxed and content pigs. He added that treated pigs with more compassion makes them easier to handle when it is time to lead them to slaughter.

The study suggests that pigs that play with toys and are petted each week are more likely to produce better meat because they will approach the slaughterhouse more willingly. Unhappy and toyless pigs must be bullied and shoved into the chutes and oftentimes suffer physical damage.

This study could have ominous repercussions for the entire livestock industry. After all, cattle and broiler producers are also quite enterprising. Soon, they too could be dispensing affection and gifts to their animals. Happier animals, yielding better meat, is just the lure needed to entice all livestock producers into changing their methods of operation and thus reaping higher profits.

Think about it. If petting livestock makes them happy, imagine how they would feel if they were winked at or hugged. The potential effect of kisses upon chickens, for example, is staggering.

But what kind of toys would you buy a cow? For that matter, what on earth would you buy a chicken? And I wonder if the play toys could be combined so the chickens and cows could play together?

What about the problem of allowing livestock to experience their environment and roam outside their pens. Are we talking just short walks here or are we talking long trips? Animals roaming around outside their pens doesnt bother me. But if I board a bus and find it loaded with critters I am not going to be a happy man.

The study expresses the view that animals need to be happy and content. This upsets me! Why should animals be any different from us?

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The time is 7:20 a.m. Chicago, Sat. March 28











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