Even the best genetic solutions are enhanced by improving the breeding herd, according to PIC geneticists. While pigs weaned per sow per year has been the primary efficiency measure on sow farms, there’s additional value to be captured by examining productivity on the lifetime basis of the sow.

 Research shows sows are more productive from parity 2 through parity 5. However, most farms are unable to take advantage of extended parities for a variety of reasons. Sow retention is the key.

 Better gilt introduction and management protocols, while regulating the breeding herd to keep replacements at or near 45 percent annually, dramatically extends the herd’s lifetime productivity. The more sows that farrow in the more productive range of parity 2 through parity 5 converts replacement costs to bottomline performance.

 To help in your evaluation of parity management and the resulting impact on profitability, PIC geneticists suggest the following metrics for lifetime production evaluation of sows should be part of your current data set.

  • Cull rate: How frequently animals are dropped from your breeding herd may be based on age, performance, a long wean-to-service interval, body condition, soundness or other health issues.
  • Annual replacement rate: Keeping this turnover indicator under 50 percent means fewer parity 1 sows enter the herd.
  • Average herd parity: PIC recommends 3.5 average herd parity to maximize presence of more mature sows and higher productivity.
  • Average age at removal: Sound body condition and good management practices push this average to parity 4.5 in the top AgriStat herds. An average herd parity of 5 at removal is a sound target and provides the maximum economic return.