One of the main problems of pig production management is the lack of planning. As most pig producers are used to making decisions based on the past, they find it hard to think their businesses far ahead. If you are one of them, it is time to change.
A good start to change is to understand a new concept: the ideal group. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, the proposal is quite simple: identify and invest in the best group of animals on your farm. However, in order to do so, you will need accurate and systematized herd information that will allow you to evaluate breeding, farrowing, and weaning indexes, for instance.
In general, the indicator that defines the ideal group is the number of piglets produced per sow per year. Based on this indicator, the sows which indexes are below that herd average should be replaced by well-developed gilts to increase productivity.
And this requires planning, as gilt replacement must be made on time in order not to negatively affect production. Culling sows only after weaning increases the risk of not having a sufficient number of good-quality gilts for replacement. This has a direct impact on breeding goals, and may cause further losses, as low-production sows are maintained in the herd, in addition of resulting in poor group uniformity.
We suggest that you evaluate sow results during gestation (70 days after mating, for instance) and not at weaning, which is typically done. This will allow you to have the time required – from gilt selection to their effective inclusion in the breeding herd – to properly develop the gilts, making them more productive during their lives.
The distinguishing feature of excellence farms is anticipation – to carefully plan every production step. Planning optimizes results, significantly improving farm performance, as it helps eliminating losses related to the maintenance of unproductive animals. Remember: you have to act now, but think ahead. The farther we look, the lower are the risks along the way.
What about you? Did you know the ideal group concept?