Pork profitability starts in the farrowing barn

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. - Bringing healthy piglets into the nursery is one of the keys for profitability in hog operations.
calendar icon 22 December 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
So it's important that nursery operators work with their farrowing partners.

“To get in quality management, you get sow producers together with the nursery management. The answer is ‘Don't send us these lousy pigs,'” said Dr. John Deen, DVM and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Veterinary Population Medicine.

He spoke at Ralco Nutrition Pork Profit Days held recently at Prairie's Edge Casino Resort in Granite Falls.

He wants to encourage the swine industry to focus on management that maximizes the number of healthy piglets weaned from each sow. Pigs that are too small, too young and not healthy tend to have problems all the way through finishing. Too much money is spent feeding pigs that are poor doers or that die in the nursery or finishing barn, he said.

Deen and his graduate students have conducted research regarding pig variation and profitability in one barn vs. another.

They determined that - in the barns they studied - the quality of the pigs coming into the nursery system and the variation in quality of pigs from barn to barn had more of an impact on profitability than the skills of the site manager.

They noted that disease causes pigs to do poorly, but they also hypothesized that poor-doing pigs are more likely to get sick.

“I say it may be the pig as much or more than the bug,” said Deen. “We have to start taking a look at sources that drive variation.”

Deen pointed out that gilts tend to produce low birth-weight pigs. Nursery barns that typically house piglets from gilt farrowings will have more problems than barns that house piglets from sows in their second or later parity.

Older sows also tend to have smaller piglets.

Source: Minnesota Farm Guide
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