Identifying marginal pigs can help producers reduce feed costs

Refining culling plans can help producers use high priced feed efficiently.

Pork producers are facing rising feed costs for the rest of 2012 and early 2013. These are results of a difficult growing season, filled with drought and abnormal weather patterns. Ways to help producers battle these record level feed expenses are minimal and every effort to identify areas that can help reduce input costs should be made. As producers look for ways to use this high priced feed more efficiently on their farms some consideration should be given to refining their culling and replacement plans.

When utilizing high price feedstuffs in your swine diets you need to be focused on feeding productive animals and quickly identifying problem pigs. Eliminating marginal pigs from your inventory can be done in all phases of pork production. Assessing the pigs for lameness, health issues and ability to grow are priority areas when evaluating quality pigs. When selecting for quality, a pig’s individual ability to maintain the same growth rate as its current group should be considered. With higher feed costs you should be focused on animals that will need the least number of days to reach market weight.

Quality animals in your sow herd should also be a focus during times of high feed costs. Sows with good production history and overall physical appearance should make up the majority of your herd. When looking for animals to cull you should evaluate the sows over their lifetime in the following areas:

  • Milking ability
  • Foot and leg health
  • Age
  • Number of born alive, number of weaned
  • Number of days to return to estrus
  • Farrowing rate

When considering how you are going to manage the increased feed costs for the future, consider working to eliminate all marginal animals from your production. This will help you focus on producing quality animals with your high cost inputs.

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