Genesus Focuses on Pig Growth

US - Genesus is one of the leaders in the industry in research and development. It collects information from many sources internally as well as collaborative work with other stakeholder companies and the academia.
calendar icon 29 September 2014
clock icon 5 minute read

It has been said that “if you don’t measure it, it does not exist”. Over the next few technical reports we will go into some of this research and development and show you how it effects your farm and what you can do to realise these results.

This week will focus on growth.

Days to market has one of the biggest financial impacts on your farm. It impacts the amount of feed used to grow a pig and it impacts the turnover of the facility. As litter size in Genesus continues to improve you need to turn your facility over or you will have to add on additional space. Farms 20 years ago that were feeding 24 pigs weaned per sow per year are feeding 30 pigs per sow per year in the same facility and at larger weights. Thanks to the improvement in Genesus growth rate.

Genesus genetic program has enabled their genetic improvement by improving the maternal line by reducing days to 100Kgs.It has seen one day per year in the maternal lines. The terminal line has been reducing days to 100Kgs. by as much as two day. This has repeated for the last five years and it shows no sign at slowing, thanks in large to the hard work of the genetic team led by Dr Kemp and the many farms and staff carrying out the data collection.

Here is a look at days to 100Kgs. at four farms I work with in China. This is on York purebred boars. Don’t focus too much on Back fat. One mm is about the thickness of a dime, all 4 have good back fat for a maternal line. Going below 11 mm can cause problems in the sow.

Farm A has 20 days less to 100Kgs. than the other three farms. How can this be? And why are the other farms not being able to capture the genetic potential of the maternal Genesus York? Let’s look at key data points and see what is happening. All the farms sows are the same age, 1st and 2nd parity only.

Rule of thumb;

  • Every 100 grams extra birth weight is one day less to market. Increase the feed 30 days before farrowing based on the results of birth weights.

  • Feed intake drives growth. Farm A has an excellent feeder and puts lactating sows on full self-feed after day four after farrowing. The feeder is never empty and she eats when she wants. During this data collection in the August heat, the sows will eat most of the feed at night when it’s cool. Every 1.5 Kgs. average extra lactation feed intake per day during lactation period is one Kgs. average extra piglet weight gain at weaning. Sows reach the peak of intake on about day 18 to 20. Sows in farm A are getting a week extra feed at the intake peak. The other farms are feeding when it is convenient to the staff not when the sow is up and wants feed. Farm A is feeding 1 to 1.5 more pigs than the other farms as well.

  • Every 500 grams extra weaning weight is three days less to market. Farm A is weaning 2000 grams more per pig than the other farms. This equates to 12 days to market. The extra feed intake is also contributing to larger subsequent litter size as we can see in Farm A weaning 11.4 pigs on average.

  • At all the farms in Asia I have the farms weigh 30 head once a month at weaning, Day 0, and weight the same 30 pigs at day three after weaning. This tells us how the nursery is performing and how piglets have adjusted to feed and how many found feed and water. Every 100 grams total weight per pig gained in those three days is three days less to market. Farm A is 400 to 500 grams better than the other farms in its nursery management or 12 to 18 days to market advantage.

  • Weight gain from birth to off test. Controlling variation is important; low deviation of birth weights. All about 1.5 to 1.6 Kgs.; Colostrum management and split suckle; maximize lactation feed intake; Wean weights tight, not weaning three Kgs. pigs and seven Kgs pigs in the same litter; warm draft free nursery environment; extra water and feed access the first week in nursery; Nutrient value of all feeds; Health issues, vaccination protocol and treatment protocol; change feed on growth curve not too soon or too late, this will require weight test groups.

The first limiting factor in all farms is genetics, the second is management. Collect data at your farm. Weight gain is multifactorial, look at what other farms are doing and put in place best practices and maximise your Genesus genetic potential.

Some farms estimate one day to market costs $1, feed, space utilisation, labour and operating cost. Whether it is $1 or $0.50 it is a big cost to have 20 days longer to market. You need to collect data so you know how you are doing and where to make improvements at your farm.

They say “if you don’t measure it, it doesn’t exist”. I am not sure if that is true but it definitely applies to profitability.

Charlotte Rowney

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