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Optimum Boar Life: Improving Market Pig Profit Through the Terminal Sire

27 February 2017
PIC

GLOBAL - PIC terminal sires are selected based on the performance-potential of their progeny in commercial grow-finish flows.

The production-economics based selection program is focused on increasing the proportion of full-value-pigs marketed, increasing growth rates, reducing the feed required per pound of gain, and increasing packer-value through lean carcass yields. PIC’s Index represents an animal’s genetic potential across all of these profit-drivers, and both PIC and customer data support that each index-point improvement in a terminal-boar-herd represents about $0.10 in improved profit-potential of the market pigs sired by that stud. This makes genetic-index a key consideration in boar stud inventory management. With the right replacement strategy, a boar stud achieving 15-points of genetic gain over a year will ship doses that improve the profit-potential of pigs produced by $1.50.

While genetic potential is a primary contributor to a stud’s impact on the economics of pork production, the costs to operate a stud are also an important consideration. Recommended replacement rates are based on balancing the improved genetic value that younger boars contribute to market-pig flows with the reduction in production costs per dose as a boar ages. Typically, these replacement rate targets range from 70% for standard AI boars to 95% for CBV/Profit Max boars (the highest-indexing terminal boars available). Whether a production company maintains their own boar stud or the sow farms purchases semen, the Optimum Boar Life tool is used across PIC boar herds to advise on inventory management decisions.

Optimum Boar Life (OBL) is a tool that helps stud-managers prioritize culling-decisions based on the value each individual boars is contributing to the production system. This is based on two primary profit and cost drivers: genetic merit and level of semen output. Throughout a boar’s lifetime in stud, his total value is a combination of these two factors, however the relative impact of each to total-system-profitability shifts as he ages:

Entry into working boar inventory:

  • Genetic merit: The boar represents new/high genetic potential to the system, and the market pigs produced from his doses will have higher performance-potential through grow/finish, relative to older boars in stud. This is the primary value-driver for young, high-indexing boars.
  • Semen output: The first few weeks in stud represent the lowest semen output levels for a boar. As a result, the cost per dose produced is the highest when the boar first enters the stud.

After a few months in stud:

  • Genetic merit: The boar’s index begins to decline. Since the genetic merit of the active-boar is compared young animals being produced in PIC’s genetic farms, this reflects that new boars entering the stud would produce market pigs with higher performance-potential, relative to this aging boar.
  • Semen output: The boar is reaching the peak of his semen production curve, and he is providing increased value to the production system through the lower cost per dose. At this stage, the stud-cost advantages balance his current genetic-value.

At the end of a boar’s optimum stud-life:

  • Genetic merit: The boar’s index has continued to decline, indicating the boost in performance-potential that would be seen in market pigs sired by a new boar continues to get larger.
  • Semen output: The boar has reached the plateau in his semen production curve. The lower production cost per dose of this older boar no longer balances the difference in genetic potential that a new boar would bring. At this time, the production system would get more value from replacing the older boar with a new, higher-indexing boar.

The PIC Genetic Services Team utilizes the OBL tool with boar studs globally to optimize the profitability that terminal boars contribute to pork production systems. By using the culling-recommendations to guide removal decisions and placing boar-orders to target recommended replacement rates, boar studs can maintain their production levels, while ensuring continuously-improving performance potential for all pig-flows receiving their doses. The use of Optimum Boar Life ensures that robust genetic improvement at PIC’s genetic farms results in realized product differentiation in commercial closeouts.

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