What can you do to lower them?

July 6, 2022

9 Min Read
What is the cost of non-productive days?
National Pork Board

As a follow up to last months article "How much are non-productive days affecting production at your farm?" this month's plans are to look more at the cost of non-productive days and make some suggestions on how to lower open non-productive days.

Some key points from the last article are understanding the definition of Non-Productive Sow Days:

  • Biological definition: any day that a gilt or sow of breeding age in the sow farm is neither gestating nor lactating 

  • Formula for calculating NPD: 365 – ((litters/female/year) x (gestation days + lactation days))

Where are these NPDs coming from? NPD's are broken down into open replacement gilt days, wean to event days and returns to detected open days as follows:

  • Replacement gilts days: entry to first service, entry to culling and entry to death

  • Weaning to event days: normal wean to 1st service, prolonged wean to 1st service which includes delayed wean to 1st service (includes skip heats), wean to cull, wean to deaths and anestrus

  • Returns to detected open days: detected open and reserviced, detected open at death, and detected open at culling  

The SMS data used for the attached tables came from 562 farms with 1,013,612 females. The farms in the data set had to be producing 20+ pigs weaned / mated female / year, be mature farms with seven-plus parity females, and not being affected by a major disease break. Table 1: Non-Productive Days is sorted by Pigs Weaned / Mated Female / Year on the Y-axis and parity from P0-P7+ on X-axis. The top farms were at >=32 pigs with average days at 43.1 days versus farms at 26 -<27 pigs at 60.9 days versus farm <22 pigs at 92.8 days.  As was noted in last article, the highest days with the most range are for P0 with average at 110.9 days with range of 97.6 to 149.8 days.

MetaFarms Table 1 070622.png

Since there isn't standardization on how farms enter gilts into their record keeping program, it is hard to compare farms. SMS several years ago created a line on the Farm Benchmarking report called Mated Female Non-Productive Days. This calculation assumes farms enter gilts at first service so farms can be compared more accurately. 

Table 2: Mated Female Non-Productive Days shows days for P0 females dropped from an average of 110.9 days to 36.7 days. Average days went from 57.1 days to 41.4 days with farm >=32 pigs at 25.3 days verses 43.1 days, farm at 26 -<27 pigs at 42.0 days verses 60.9 days and farm <22 pigs at 69.1 days versus 92.8 days. To compare farms, make sure farms are all using the same comparisons.   

MetaFarms Table 2 070622.png

There are lots of different ways to look at cost of non-productive days. The easy way to calculate cost for your farm is the equation: (Breakeven Cost $ per Weaned Pigs x Pigs Weaned per Mated Female) / 365 Days. Here are some examples looking at farms with different breakeven costs and same production level:

  • Farm 1: Breakeven cost $28.50 x 26 pigs per mated female / 365 days = $2.03 per mated female / day

  • Farm 2: Breakeven cost $42.50 x 26 pigs per mated female / 365 days = $3.03 per mated female / day

  • Farm 4: Breakeven cost $50.25 x 26 pigs per mated female / 365 days = $3.58 per mated female / day

What is your breakeven cost $ per pig? There is no standardized established procedure that I can find to calculate that number since most farms use different accounting packages for entering their expenses and income. 

Some suggested expenses that should be included are: labor (hourly/salary, workers compensation, bonuses, health care (if provided), IRA or 401K, and any other expense relate to labor costs and recruiting), feed cost for sows, boars and gilts, utilities cost (gas, propane, electricity), supplies (lube, gloves, rods, markers, clothing, etc.), animal health (vaccinations, antibiotics, etc.), cost of genetics (replacement gilts and semen), interest on investment, repairs, taxes, insurance, custom hire and other related costs.

Talking with producers there is a lot of variation in that break even cost from as low $37.63 to over $50 and higher.  Most producers have seen that breakeven cost increase the last 12 months as labor cost, health costs, feed costs, construction costs and others have increased with some farms seeing that cost go up by as much as $10 per pig.

Assume sows eat about 2,200-2,500 pounds per year of feed with about 683-788 lbs. (13-15 lbs. / day) during farrowing which is the lactation ration and 1384-1538 lb. (4.50-5.00 lbs. / day) being the gestation ration. When looking at NPD's, most happen when sows are in gestation, from weaning to breeding, being found open and to culling. 

Let's now look at the cost related to gestation rations. Table 3: Dollars / Female / Year - Gestation ration, estimated cost per ton (includes corn, SBM, pre-mix, grinding/mixing and delivery), is set up looking at cost of corn going from $5 to $8 /bushel and SBM from $300 to $450 per ton showing dollar cost per ton of mixed ration. If corn was at $5 and SBM at $300, a mixed ton was at $231.00 / ton.

MetaFarms Table 3 070622.JPG

With resent costs of corn being at $7.75 / bushel and SMS at $421 / ton, feed costs have moved up. If corn moves to $8 and SBM at $450, there is an increase of $111.00 /ton. Table 4: Dollars / Day Gestation Ration / Day (5 lb.) shows cost per day per sow goes from $0.55 to $0.86 /day.  Since 2019, some farms have seen feed cost per pig go up by $5 to $8. 

MetaFarms Table 4 070622.JPG

What do we know?

  • NPD vary between farm with farm <22 pigs at an average of 92.8, average farms 26- <27 pigs at 60.9 and top farm >=32 pigs at 43.1 days.

  • To compare farms, taking out the gilt pool farms should use MFNPD (Mated Female Non-productive days). The numbers for farms <22 pigs lower is at 69.1, average farms 26 -<27 pigs is at 42.0 days, and top farms >=32 pigs is at 25.3 days.

  • Breakeven cost $ per weaned pig is hard to compare since there is no standardized calculations and do vary by farm with farms at 26 pigs showing variation of $2.03 to $3.58 /day per sow.

  • Feed cost has been increasing and makes up a high percentage of cost of an NPD or MFNPD with cost going up from $0.55 to $0.86 when corn goes from $5 to $8 and SMS from $300 to $450 / ton.

  • An example of cost is taking a 2,500 sow farm at >22 pigs per sow compared to a 2,500 sow farm >=32 pigs showing MFNP'’s at 69.1 verses 25.3 days for a difference of 43.8 days /sow per year. When cost per MFNPD at $2.03 the extra days cost the farm (2500 x 43.8 x $2.03 =) $222,285 up to (2500 x 43.8 X $3.58 =) $392,010 for an increase in cost of $169,725 per year.

  • Feed cost makes up a lot of the increased cost breakeven cost $ per pig with the same example 2,500 sow farm at >22 pigs per sow (2500 x 43.8 days x $0.55 =) $60,225 up to (2500 x 43.8 x $0.86 =) $91,170 for an increase just in gestation feed of $33,945.

What can a farm do to lower those NPD or MFNPD? 

  • Lower mated female death loss by making sure all females in the farm are observed daily and made to get up and treated if needed.

  • Review replacement gilt selection and development by investing in GDU facilities on farm, take over development of gilts at 50-60 lb. to breeding and staff facility with quality employees.

  • Lower wean to 1st service days by make changes in lactation to get sows to eat more feed daily and if possible, be able to feed P1 females a different denser diet for that first lactation.

  • Make sure weaned females have access to water and are feed, if possible, two times per day until breed receiving 6-8 lb. feed per day.

  • Culling more returns after one repeat with goal of breeding no returns.

  • Start looking for returns 16 days after being bred by daily exposure of bred females with very mature, smelly boars with goal of finding 60+% of regular returns days 16-25 after breeding.

  • When heat checking, make sure heat check boar or boars are moving slowly in front of bred females and that someone is behind the sows looking for females coming into heat caused by boar exposure.

  • A trick that can be done by the person behind the sows is using a flashlight which is shined on the vulva of each sow being checked to look for shiny mucus discharge on the vulva – a sign that that female is starting to cycle.

  • Start pregnancy checking at about day 28-30 based on the type of ultrasound used and the experience level of the pregnancy checker and if questionable sows found, mark her and check the next week again.

  • Do a visual pregnancy check of sows bred 70-80 days can help find a few more open females that usually show up when you are loading them into farrowing crates.

  • Review vaccination/treatment program to make sure sows being culled are removed as soon as possible after withdrawing days are meet.

  • To compensate for decreasing daylight in the fall, make sure that replacement gilts and wean sows in the breeding are exposed to a minimum of 16 hours of light per day with Lux level at 200+.

  • Review records to determine where farm is at on NPD (MFNPD) and taking your breakeven cost $ / pig to come up with cost per day of open sow days and share with the staff.

  • If NPD are higher, make it a priority of the farm staff to lower and reduce costs at the farm.

What is your farm doing to lower NDP or MFNPD's which costs the farm a lot of money? What is your breakeven cost $ / pig? What does an extra NPD or MFNPD's costing your farm? Do you have a plan to lower?

Thank you for reading this article. If you have other topics that you would like reviewed, please let SMS know.

Source: Ron Ketchem (30 & Up Consulting LLC) and Mark Rix (SMS), who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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