background image
as wean weight has reduced. Similarly, for market pigs
as growth rates and FCE has improved there has been
a `trade-o ' as some pigs are structurally more fragile
therefore, we have seen an increase in mortality and
also an increase in substandard pigs for sale. These
`trade-o s' have had an economic e ect on profit. While
there is a need to maximize the performance of key
economically important traits in pork production, at the
same time we must consider any potential correlated
responses that might negatively impact profit. Software
can be utilised to assist the pig farmer in knowing their
cost of production, and to examine the overall benefits
from changing any of the components. The Teagasc Pig
Performance Calculator is a useful tool in this regard.
Over the past 30 years the use of genetic technologies
has made significant genetic improvement in
reproduction, growth rate, feed conversion, and lean
meat percentage.
Associated with this improvement we have seen a
`trade-o ' in the fitness traits of both sows and piglets:
increased % low birth weight pigs, lower weaning
weights, higher piglet mortality rates, higher sow culling
rates, slower pig growth and less profit potential.
Pig producers need to focus their genetic program on
what will maximize long term profits rather than chase
short term improvements in targeted traits of current
Pig producers need to get solid data on the birth weight
variation and % of pigs that don't make FMV on their
Pig producers need to consider their culling decision
making. Should a healthy 5th / 6th litter sow be culled
when their progeny may have a 4-8 advantage over
progeny from a first litter sow.
Investing for the future
Ciarán Carroll, Amy Quinn & Laura Boyle, Teagasc Moorepark, looked at future proofing in
the pig sector at the Teagasc Pig Conference
Margins in the pig sector took a significant turn for the better early this year. This is our silver lining on the back of the
Chinese cloud that is African Swine Fever (ASF). With the on-going drop in Chinese production and increased exports from
Europe and elsewhere into China, the indications are that this situation will continue for many months to come. Current
profit margins and stability in the industry yield some important opportunities to consider: 1) capital to re-invest in the exist-
ing operation or to make new investments and 2) time to reflect on the way we manage our farms, consider what's coming
down the line for the sector and how we can address these challenges. These challenges include managing manure produc-
tion, reducing antimicrobial use, the ban on zinc oxide and rearing pigs with intact tails and the need to use resources more
e ciently. All of these challenges loom against a scenario of ever-increasing di culties in securing and retaining trained,
reliable sta .
Immediate Priorities
Feed credit: feed credit reduces our international competitiveness and adds significantly to the cost/tonne (t) of feed. A 500
sow herd has an annual feed bill of 1,246,239 based upon feed use of 4,113t and a composite feed cost of 303/t. Assuming
a 90 day feed credit this amounts to a feed credit level of 307,292. Assuming that this credit costs 5/t the annual feed credit
cost is 20,565. This would fund the repayment of a loan for 92,000 or close to one month's reduction in the feed credit
being carried over. Thus, reducing feed credit is a priority to improve cost e ciencies and help bu er against deteriorating
feed or pig price changes. Capital Investment Facilities refurbishment and upgrading: all pig farms require a major capital
investment every 10-15 years to keep them operating e ciently or to upgrade existing facilities. To help make the right in-
vestment decision it is important to base it on the likely impact on future margins. Small changes in various e ciency factors
can significantly impact the net margin of a 500 sow farm selling pigs at 112kg live weight.
Priority e ciency factors
Achieving improvements in some areas; e.g. Feed Conversion E ciency (FCE) is easier than others; e.g. sow productivity, so
you need to do a cost/benefit analysis and decide what will have the best impact for your farm. Do not undervalue improve-
ments in FCE. A reduction in FCE of 0.1 from weaning to sale is worth more than an increase of one pig/sow/year. It's import-
ant however this is not done at a cost to other production parameters as this can result in false e ciencies i.e. not at a cost to
ADG and days to sale.
To improve FCE
Replace or upgrade roof and wall insulation. Replace or upgrade ventilation. Repair or replace faulty feeders and troughs to
improve intakes and minimise feed wastage. Install extra feeders &/or drinkers to ensure adequate feeder/drinker space per
pig (1 drinker/10 pigs). Extra housing may be desirable to reduce stocking rates. Consider upgrading/replacing feed systems.
To improve sow fertility there may be a need to redesign service areas to provide for safer mixing of sows after weaning,
improving boar contact for gilts and sows before and during service. Improvements in lighting in dry sow and service houses
(16h of light at 320 lux/day) should be considered. There may also be opportunities to invest in your gilts through separate
gilt housing and if possible the provision of a gilt diet or supplemented finisher feed.
Pig Focus
Pig Focus