Addressing Variability in Weight Key to Maximizing Returns on Market Hogs

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2241. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 21 November 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2241

The Prairie Swine Centre is recommending addressing natural variability in body weights as one way to maximize premiums for hogs delivered to the packing plant.

When shipping hogs there are significant penalties for animals that are either too light or too heavy.

Prairie Swine Centre president Dr. John Patience suggests by minimizing variability and managing the variability that can't be eliminated producers can maximize returns.

To minimize variability there's a number of things we can do. Number one is to address the health status of our herd because the one thing that will increase variability or reduce uniformity of growth will be a high impact of disease on the animals so herd health is very very important.

The next is the access to resources and the resources that are important to the pig is feed and water. If the pig has to compete for access to the water or to the feed then that's going to increase variability as well.

Then the final component of what we can do to reduce variability, because it improves the growth rate of the animals, is the use of a product called Paylean which we found would allow us to turn a barn over about one week faster than if we weren't using Paylean. But, there's a certain amount of variability always going to be there and so then the question is, "how do I manage the variability?"

Managing variability can be anything from going to split sex housing, separating barrows and gilts, because barrows will go to market almost a week sooner than gilts. We might also take the bottom 10 or 15 percent of the pigs and move those into a separate production system and leave us with the top 85 or 90 percent of the pigs that we know will go to market because it's the tail enders that really cause us the problem.

Then there's a whole host of other things that we can do in terms of perhaps using slightly better quality of feed. A higher energy diet will tend to reduce variability but, again, the impact is modest. Those are some of the things we can do to manage variability.

Dr. Patience notes the ideal weight, particularly within the Canadian processing system, is generally within a range of about ten kilograms dressed weight.

Staff Farmscape.Ca

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