Spanish Performance Supports Weaning Capacity

This article represents an interesting review of targeting an increase in weaners produced per sow per year as an indication of efficiency. It encourages producers to consider optimum productivity as a better indicator of the efficiency of production. Rather than a maximum number of weaned piglets, they should target the maximum number of good quality weaners at an optimum cost, says Jordi Mora, Production Director of Hypor in Spain.
calendar icon 27 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

In a cost optimisation process, the following improvements in the Spanish pig sector, equal those achieved by an extra weaned piglet per productive sow per year:

  • 7 percentage points lower sow mortality
  • 20 percentage points in lower yearly sow replacement rate
  • 0.34 percentage point in carcass yield
  • 0.4 points in carcass lean meat.

Jordi Mora, Production Director for Hypor España

Thus, the following statement by Dr Foxcroft becomes most relevant:

“The use of extremely prolific lines which can produce more weaned piglets thorough their productive lives but which increase the production cost within the system due to an increased variability in the performance of these pigs may not be the optimum choice for the production systems of the future.”

It is Hypor's experience that one extra kilogram at weaning becomes four extra kilograms at the end of the nursery stage, and this applies again to the difference of weight between the start and the end of the finishing stage.

With current feed costs it is more than likely that the average weight of piglets at weaning will be used as a key indicator of efficiency within the pig production system in order to optimise both growth rates and feed efficiency in the finishing period.

Another key parameter to take into account is the replacement rate of sows, which is dictated by the robustness of each breeding programme – not only as an extra depreciation cost of the inventory but as a source of increasing medication cost, mortality rates and feed costs due to the lower immunity level in a sow herd with a higher percentage of first parity sows.

These reasons show that the concept of 'Weaning Capacity' of a given breeding programme will be used by the pig industry in preference to the concept of productivity per se.

January 2009
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