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Impact of a Husbandry Education Program on Nursery Pig Mortality, Productivity and Treatment Cost

10 July 2013, at 12:00am

Training on the care of individual pigs and the correct execution of existing protocols significantly improved productivity and reduced mortality, culling and treatment costs in growing pigs in a new study from the US.

The systematic application of husbandry practices taught and encouraged by a Husbandry Educator (HE) and focusing on individual pig care and execution of existing protocols can significantly improve productivity, mortality and culling rates and treatment costs in growing pigs.

That was the conclusion of Lucina Galina Pantoja and colleagues at Zoetis in the US after carrying out a study to determine if an HE could positively affect these measures in post-weaned pigs.

In a paper in Journal of Swine Health and Production, they report two trials conducted, each comparing nursery group performance monitored by a HE to that in groups receiving standard care (SC).

Trial 1 was a retrospective analysis that compared mortality rate, end-of-nursery weight, and treatment cost before (n=72 groups) and after (n=83 groups) HE training at 12 nursery sites.

Trial 2 prospectively compared the percentages of culls, mortality, and high-value nursery pigs and per-head treatment costs in groups randomly assigned to HE (n=20) or SC groups (n=20). Production outcomes were compared at the group level.

In Trial 1, differences between HE and SC groups in overall mortality rate (3.12 per cent ± 0.001 per cent versus 3.64 per cent ± 0.004 per cent) and treatment cost per pig ($0.54 ± $0.06 versus $1.08 ± $0.08) were significant (P<0.001).

End-of-nursery weight was higher in HE groups (26.28 ± 0.20kg) than in SC groups (25.51 ± 0.20kg; P<0.05).

In Trial 2, percentage of high-value end-of-nursery pigs was higher in HE groups (93.92 per cent ± 0.007 per cent) than in SC groups: (91.48 per cent ± 0.007 per cent; P<0.001). All values expressed as mean ± standard error.


Galina Pantoja L., M. Kuhn, T. Hoover, D. Amodie, D. Weigel, C. Dice, T. Moeller and E. Farrand. 2013. Impact of a husbandry education program on nursery pig mortality, productivity, and treatment cost. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21(4):188–194.

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July 2013

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