In order to make pig production an increasingly profitable business, increasing productivity should be a continuous target of farms. Just like an industry is able to define the installed capacity of a plant – measuring the amount of products their equipment is able to manufacture – farms can (and should!) forecast how many piglets their sows are able to produce.
However, defining this target is still a great challenge for farm managers, particularly because they are not sure about one rather practical question: how many piglets should a sow produce throughout its life? The first step to get an answer to this question is to search for information with genetic companies, because they are able to estimate the maximum number of piglets their sows are able to produce.
This is the number that should be aimed at and, together with other factors; it will indicate the maximum productive potential of the farm. In order for this potential to be reached, indicators should not be analyzed in isolation; the analysis should rather consider the performance of the sows and its impact on production as a whole. Producers are often concerned only with getting a good ratio of pigs weaned per sow per year and a good retention rate up to the third parity. But when they cull a sow, they don’t ask how much it has produced throughout its whole productive life. Has all the genetic potential been achieved? If it could have produced 100 piglets during the period it was at the farm, but at the time it was culled you find out that it produced only 40 or 50, for example, this means that there has been a considerable waste.
The difference between what could have been produced by every sow and what was actually produced means money lost. When you have clarity about the production potential of a sow during its whole productive life, it becomes easier to identify the points of waste. Maybe the sow has produced less because of low parity rates, early culling, high mortality rate, etc.
The analysis of these and other indicators makes more sense when you know the goal to be achieved. Based on the predicted genetic performance and considering the available infrastructure, including labor and facilities, you can anticipate the maximum productive potential of your sows, the number of piglets they should produce throughout their lives, and thus set targets to achieve it.
If the goal is always to try to have lower cost and zero waste, the team should work so that all sows produce at a maximum, because unproductive sows lead to a reduction in profits. Additionally, we have to check the performance of the sows more broadly in order to better identify individual waste – that is – how much you fail to gain with every sow. This broader view is fundamental to implement the Thought+1 process in the farm and fight waste, eliminating for good this major factor that affects pig production.
What about you? Do you already know the productive potential of the sows in your farm? Please share your experience with us!