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Evaluating Parity Benchmarking to Improve Performance

Evaluating Parity Benchmarking to Improve Performance

Focusing on parity benchmarking.

Swine Management Services (SMS) added parity benchmarking as part of a  completely new farm benchmarking program unveiled at the 2013 World Pork Expo. The new program includes data that supplements all of the information that makes up the original program that was introduced in 2005.  We have also incorporated the knowledge we have gained over the past four years in writing these articles and reviewing data from over 100 farms.  There has always been a very large variation in production numbers from farm to farm.  For this article we selected 228 farms and 495,000 females from the new SMS benchmarking database.

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As part of the new SMS Benchmarking Program we have changed the SMS Production Index to include seven numbers from the entire farm database and four numbers from the parity database.  One of the key numbers in the SMS Production Index and Potential for Improvement category is Litters Farrowed / Mated Female /Year, shown in Figure 1.  As you can see, the SMS average stands at 2.38 Litters Farrowed / Mated Female / Year, with several farms over 2.60 and some less than 2.10.  The SMS average for Total Born / Female Farrowed is 13.57—multiply by the .5 difference in litters / mated female / year and it equates to 6.8 more total born / mated female / year. 

In order to improve Litters / Mated Female / Year you need more detail about the components that make it up: farrowing rate, wean to first service interval, farrow-to-farrow interval, and days to find returns. 

In this article we are going to look at farrowing rate in more detail. In the past we have just looked at farrowing rate by farm, shown in Figure 2.  Now we are breaking it down by parity (Figure 3), and gilt farrowing rate by farm ( Figure 4).

Farrowing rate is a key driver when it comes to improving farm performance (Figure 2).  There is a lot of variation in farrowing rate in the 228 farms. The SMS average is at 85.4%, with top farms above 94%, and farms at the bottom at less than 74% of the last 52 weeks.  A rule of thumb for improving farrowing rate is that every 4% improvement in farrowing rate means that pigs weaned / mated female / year improves by 1.35 pigs.  The difference of 20% between the top and bottom farm is an extra 6.75 pigs weaned / mated female / year.

To look into even more detail to find the weak points in farrowing rate, Figure 3: Farrowing Rate by Parity shows farrowing rate for P1 to P7+ females.  It shows the average along with the high farm (top number) and low farm (bottom number) by parity.  The data shows average for P1 at 84.1% with a high of 96.1% and low of 61.0%.  The farrowing rate peaks for P3 at 87.0% with top farm at 97.5% and lowest at 41.3%.  

It is our opinion that a female’s performance as a gilt will be repeated throughout her entire life.  If she had a high farrowing rate and produces a large first litter, it will improve her lifetime performance. Figure 4 shows there is lots of variation in farrowing rate for gilts with average of 84.1% with bottom farms less than 72% and top farms at 92+%.  

Figure 5 shows a very strong relationship between gilt farrowing rate and total farm farrowing rate.  As gilt farrowing rate improves, there is an improvement in farrowing rate for the entire farm.  This shows that you need to look into more detail than just looking at the farm farrowing rate. Remember that farrowing rate is a three-part variable made up of: semen, sow and technician. You need to look even deeper by looking at your parity records to find those weak areas and then look into changes that need to be made to your standard operating procedures to improve performance.  This may be the just one of the areas you need to improve to reach the 36 pigs weaned / mated female / year that we wrote about in last week’s article, “What is the Farm’s Potential for Improvement?”

Previous Production Preview columns can be found at

Key Performance Indicators

Until the benchmarking data base is rebuilt we will continue to use the old one for the data for Tables 1 and 2 (below), which provide 52-week and 13-week rolling averages for key performance indicators (KPI) of breeding herd performance.  These tables reflect the most current quarterly data available and are presented with each column.  The KPI’s can be used as general guidelines to measure the productivity of your herd compared to the top 10% and top 25% of farms, the average performance for all farms, and the bottom 25% of farms in the SMS database.


If you have questions or comments about these columns, or if you have a specific performance measurement that you would like to see benchmarked in our database, please contact:  mark.rix@swinems.comor

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What is the Farm's Potential for Improvement?

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