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Productivity by Farm Size Deserves Another Look

We divided the Swine Management Services, LLC database into four groups:

• Under 1,000 mated females (141 farms); average size is 650 females;
• 1,000-1,999 mated females (130 farms); average size is 1,393 females;
• 2,000- 2,999 mated females (94 farms); average size is 2579 females, and
• Over 3,000 mated females (32); average size is 4,596 females. Criteria also required that farms had to be in production for over three years and weaning average had to be 22 pigs/mated female during the time period. From the 397 farms in the four groups, 619 farms (64%) qualified.

Table 1 (52-week averages) provides a breakdown of production numbers for the four group sizes and Table 2 is a breakdown of the Top 10% farms for the four group sizes. Pigs weaned/mated female/year (PW/MF/Y) has a narrow range, between farms sizes – just 24.45 to 24.67. However, if we focus on the Top 10% farms, the range between farm sizes widens – 26.84 to 29.02 pigs – with the farms under 1,000 mated females reporting the highest PW/MF/Y at 29.02.

Litters/mated female/year (L/MF/Y) shows very little variation between farm sizes (2.39 to 2.42). Keep in mind that this benchmark is affected by weaning age, wean-to-1st service interval, farrowing rate and farrowing interval. The Top 10% farms’ range varies slightly more at 2.43 to 2.51.

Weaning Age Effects
We have seen average weaning age increase on all farms in the Swine Management Services database over the past three years. However, when we look at weaning age by farm size, the increase is mostly in the smaller farms, which average 21.66 days. Farms with over 3,000 females had the lowest age-at-weaning average at 18.96 days, a difference of 2.7 days compared to the under 1,000-sow farms.

Wean-to-1st service interval for all farms varies from 6.59 to 6.95 days, while farrowing rate for all farms varies from 84.7% to 85.8%. Farrow-to-farrow interval for all farms varies from 144.6 to 145.7 days.

Of the four production parameters, only weaning age shows a large variation in the all farms averages. Focusing on the Top 10% by farm size, variation is larger and the advantage goes to the farms under 1,000 mated females. These farms have the highest PW/MF/Y at 29.02, the highest weaning age at 20.58 days, the highest L/MF/Y at 2.51, the highest farrowing rate at 90.8%, and the lowest wean-to-1st service interval at 5.89 days.

In addition, the under 1,000 mated female farms show a 4% improvement in farrowing rate over their average, females are cycling 0.87 days sooner after weaning, and their farrow-to-farrow interval is 1.8 days shorter due to improvements in farrowing rate, which improves litters/mated female from 2.40 to 2.51 litters. The other three Top 10% groups show higher farrowing rates by 2.7 to 3.8%, wean-to-1st service intervals of 0.22 to 0.57 days sooner, and farrow-to-farrow intervals shortened by 0.30 to 2.7 days.

The averages for the different sizes were closer than we expected. However, a review of the Top 10% production numbers shows the farms under 1,000 mated females are performing the best and the potential for 30 pigs/mated female/year is there.

Key Performance Indicators

Tables 3 and 4 (below) 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 address them to: [email protected] or
[email protected].

Mark Rix and Ron Ketchem
Swine Management Services LLC

Click to view graphs.