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High culling herds do better

by 5m Editor
20 June 2006, at 12:00am

UK - Pig producers who keep up-to-date with replacement rates in their breeding herds achieve higher productivity than those who are less rigorous with their sow culling policies.

A survey of records from over 140 UK customers carried out by pig breeding company ACMC showed that units which replaced 45 per cent of the herd each year achieved above-average performance, with each sow weaning around 11 pigs per litter. This rate of replacement means that each sow would be kept for about five parities or around two years.

"It is clear that the herds with the higher replacement rates are the ones achieving above-average performance. This is true for both smaller herds of around 200 sows and larger enterprises with over 600 sows," commented James Hall ACMC's senior marketing manager.

The survey highlighted a strong correlation between replacement rate and overall productivity. The top 20 per cent of the herds in terms of culling rate are rearing between 26 and 28 pigs per sow per year. A further 15 per cent are achieving performance well above the top 10 per cent of the industry's recorded herds.

"A good, clear recording system is needed, together with the will to change the less productive sows," added James.

He pointed out that, with cull sow prices around the 75p-80p-per-kg mark, producers have been able to receive a return of £100 to £150 on many older animals. This could easily justify the cost of young good-quality replacement gilts.

"There's no financial argument for hanging on to less productive sows and, given the gains in productivity, an up-to-date replacement should be a priority for many herds," he said.

5m Editor