I spent time last week thinking about the housing and equipment needs of pigs as we take them to heavier slaughter weights. One item I reviewed was a history of U.S. production averages.
In 1987 Swine Graphics grow-finish cooperators grew pigs from 50 to 235 pounds at 1.46 lb/d with a 3.49 feed conversion. In 2012, grow-finish cooperators in the MetaFarms record system grew pigs from 55 to 270 pounds at 1.80 lb/d with a 2.92 feed conversion. While the improvements in performance are impressive, they didn’t hit home to me until I did some further math with the numbers.
In 1987 it took almost 127 days for a pig in grow-finish to put on 185 pounds of gain. In 2012, 215 pounds of gain were accomplished in 120 days. In 1987 this gain required 640 pounds of feed (mostly corn-soy with some added fat) while in 2012 this gain required only 628 pounds of feed (corn-soy with distillers grains and other alternative ingredients and minimal added fat).