Recognizing herd health is a constant concern, the company uses a robust sire line in sow farms that have been more challenging in terms of pig performance.
The Triumph TR-4 sire has been used about 60% of the time since 2008 for farms that have a record of being relatively healthy over years rather than months, Boyd explains.
Sow lines have been modified, too.
“We recognized that even though we have an F1 (first-cross) female, you need to verify that each line within the F1 cross is good at lifetime pig output and longevity in the herd,” Boyd says. “We’ve been able to determine that one source of Landrace breeding is better than another source, so the genetics have to be right.”
Later Weaning, Better Rate of Gain
“We also increased wean age (which should never have been lowered to the extent it was). By increasing the wean age from 18–19 days (range 15–20) to 23–24 days (range 19–26), we’re able to finish pigs 10 to 12 days sooner. The sow farms continue to do well in terms of the pigs that are produced, even though there are fewer sows on a farm, and the death loss has declined considerably as a result,” Boyd says.
“Early-weaning, combined with the use of wean-finish units, especially in the face of PRRS challenges, was a disaster,” he adds. “Millions of dollars were lost.”
The decisive factor was a research study by Donovan and David Rosero, DVM, of wean age on a population basis and under conditions of varied health status. Boyd says there are specific groups of pigs that do well when weaned young, but the important question is what wean age performs most profitably over a two-year period and under both high- and low-health conditions.
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