When are your piglets dying?

To get more pigs weaned per mated female per year you need to improve total born, and make changes to save more of them by extending farrowing hours, adding people to farrowing and improving Day 1 pig care.

August 8, 2016

6 Min Read
When are your piglets dying?

As we continue to look at the data in the Swine Management Services Benchmarking database we have seen the total born per mated female per year average of 32.58 pigs with the Top 10% at 37.65 (Table 3) starting to peak the last one to two years. Piglet survival (100% - stillborn percent - pre-weaning mortality percent) the last 52 weeks averaged 78.8% with the Top 10% at 84.5% (Table 3) is also more stable.So for farms to move the pigs weaned per mated female per year higher, they need to make changes in farrowing to save more pigs. In most cases, farms have plenty of extra pigs that can be saved with total born per female farrowed the last 52 weeks average of 14.06 pigs with Top 10% at 15.17 pigs.

So for this column, data of the last three years were pulled out for 38 farms from the SMS consulting database that includes 454,596 farrowings. The breakdown was ≥28 pigs from six farms, ≥24-<28 pigs from 16 farms, ≥20-<24 from 12 farms and <20 pigs from four farms. The data for this column were broken down by day of the week when the piglet death occurred starting with Sunday to Saturday. We all know that in some farms the litter information is not always recorded the day that the sow farrows, with some farms recording sows that start farrowing the afternoon and do not finish before the crew leaves the farm as the next day so there is some variation farm-by-farm.

Chart 1, Total Born/Litter by Farrowing Day of Week, is broken down with the X-axis being day of the week starting with Sunday by Total Born/Litter and the Y-axis total born starting at 12.5 pigs and increased by one pig increments to 15.5 pigs.As you review the chart, note that the farms at ≥28 pigs (blue line) has the highest total born starting at 15.04 pigs on Sunday and peaking on Friday and Saturday at 15.44 pigs. Table 1 shows average total born at 15.18 pigs. The average number for all farms (dash blue line) starts on Sunday at 13.67 pigs, peaks on Wednesday at 14.14 pigs and ends on Saturday at 13.89 pigs with an average total for Table 1 at 13.93 pigs. The farms ≥20-<24 pigs (gray line) has the lowest total born numbers starting at 12.84 pigs for Sunday peaking on Wednesday at 13.71 pigs and dropping to 13.21 pigs on Saturday with average total of 3.13 pigs. As you see the top performing farms start with more total pigs born.In Chart 2 Piglet Losses/Litter by Farrowing Day of Week, which has day of week on the X-axis, and on the Y-axis piglet losses include stillborns and death loss. Piglet losses start at two pigs and increase in 0.5 pigs increments to 4.0 pigs. The average for all farms in Table 2 is 2.82 pigs lost with Chart 2 average (black dash line) showing piglet loses highest on Monday at 3.30 pigs follow by Tuesday and Wednesday. For the top farms ≥28 (blue line) shows piglet losses for Sunday at 2.98 pigs going up to 3.31 pigs for Monday and Tuesday, and dropping to 2.29 pigs on Friday. Table 2 has average loss for these top farms at 2.70 pigs versus farm <20 pigs at 3.30 pigs.The summary is the higher-producing farms have more pigs and are able to save more of them in farrowing. As to when pigs are recorded as dying, Chart 2 shows higher piglet deaths on Monday and Tuesday which is probably related to weekend farrowing not being recorded on the weekend because most farms are short-staffed on weekends. We know that some of the farms in the data set have extended farrowing hours during the day and on weekends. We did not sort the data by these farms. It appears that a lot of the extra death of piglets is related to weekend management.

So what can the farm do? Consider moving the weaning day so fewer sows farrow on weekends or do what some farms are doing by adding more help in farrowing on weekends by extending farrowing hours and including the weekends. Some farms are now extending hours in farrowing to two 10-hour shifts that run for several days including the weekend with employees getting the next weekend off and a day during the week. If farms are set up for weaning twice per week there will be heavy farrowings on the weekends.

Chart 3, Piglet Losses/Litter/Day of Lactation, has the X-axis being day of lactation starting Day 0 to Day 10 and the Y-axis being piglet losses starting at 0.0 up to 2.0 pigs broke out by 0.5 piglet increments. As we all know the biggest piglet death loss occurs on Day 0 and Day 1, with all breakouts showing similar drops of 1.5+ pigs. This confirms that Day 1 pig case is the key to saving more pigs in farrowing. It is very important to have people in the farrowing rooms checking on sows farrowing every 15 to 30 minutes to lower stillborns. Equally important is to get piglets dried or coated with a drying agent as soon as they are born to reduce chilling. Then when the sow is done farrowing, split suckle the pigs to help every piglet to get more colostrum.

In Chart 4, Potential to Wean/Litter by Day of Lactation, shows farms ≥28 pigs (blue line) starts with more pigs and is able to save more of them starting with approximately 13.3 pigs and weaning 12.4 pigs with the average for all farms at 12.0 pigs dropping to 11.0 pigs.

If you want to move pigs weaned per mated female per year higher there are two areas to work on. One is improving total born, and the second is making changes in farrowing to save more of them by extending farrowing hours, adding people to farrowing and improving Day 1 pig care. There are a large number of farms that could be at 30-plus pigs weaned per mated female per year if they improved their piglet survival by 5 to 10%. Are you one of these farms?

SMS Production Index
Table 3 (above) provides the 52-week rolling averages for 11 production numbers represented in the SMS Production Index. The numbers are separated by 90-100%, the 70-90%, the 50-70%, the 30-50% and the 0-30% groups. We also included the 13-week, 26-week and 12-quarter averages. These numbers represent what we feel are the key production numbers to look at to evaluate the farm’s performance.

At SMS, our mission statement is to provide “Information solutions for the swine industry.” We feel with the creation of different SMS Benchmarking databases for all production areas we now have more detailed information to share with the swine industry. If your farm would like to be part of the SMS Benchmarking databases, or if you have suggestions on production areas to write columns about, contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].

We enjoy being a part of the National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview team. Previous Production Preview columns can be found at www.NationalHogFarmer.com.

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