All producers are looking for ways to maximize production and reduce mortality, however they need to begin early for new piglets to get started off on the right foot.

"Feeding For 30" is a program setup to help producers achieve 30 pigs per sow per year. The program was started by Purina Animal Nutrition, Zinpro Corp. and DSM Nutritional Products.

On Wednesday at World Pork Expo a forum was held over Feeding For 30 with six industry panelist fielding questions and sharing their input on ways to achieve this high water mark.

There were many issues that were talked about, but here are some of the key points to remember when setting the goal of having 30 pigs per sow per year:

  • Hire good people who will attend to farrowing
  • Try to monitor farrowing sows 18 hours per day
  • At birth make sure all piglets are dried off and receive colostrum
  • Use good genetics
  • Uterine capacity is something we'll need to achieve genetically to consistently reach 30 pigs per sow per year
  • Make sure you keep sow teats functional to increase access to milk
  • Split suckle when they are born. Let the first seven pigs that are born nurse, hold the second group off until the first group is done nursing then switch groups
  • Avoid those peewee litters when dealing with smaller piglets
  • Litter size and birth weight do have a correlation. The more pigs born, the lower the average birth weight
  • Limit cross fostering piglets in the first 24-hours
  • Bunk feed sows about a month before farrowing and give them two extra pounds to help boost up birth weight
  • Older sows are the most challenging to keep all the pigs at a higher birth weight
  • Optimal vitamin nutrition is important

One major problem that some of the producers on the panel did have in achieving 30 pigs per sow per year was the incidence of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) in their breeding herds. It has been estimated that PRRSV has an annual cost to the U.S. swine industry of $664 million, or about $6 per pig marketed.

Genetics could help play a role in reducing the incidence of PRRSV in the U.S. through use of genomic markers and culling infected breeding stock.

The most important point to remember is that genetics and nutrition when combined with a good farrowing team leads to a successful pig litter.

Panel member Steve Stitzlein, production supervisor at Heimerl Farms in Ohio, said it best when describing his program, "We call it the 3 Rs. The Right sow, the Right pig, at the Right time."

Here are the other members of the industry panel:

  • Steve Huegerich - National Director of Swine Operation for GSC Agribusiness
  • Dave Hansen - Owner/operator of Hansen Haven & Hansen Hog West
  • Dan McManus - Young Animal Specialist for Swine at Purina Animal Nutrition
  • Jon Bergstrom, PhD - Marketing Developing Manager for Swine at DSM Nutritional Products
  • Dr. Derald Holtkamp - Assistant Professor of Vet Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine