Reducing non-productive sow days

John Mabry, Director, Iowa Pork Industry Center; Professor, Animal Science

Fiscal Year:

Supports Plan of Work Number:
150  - Iowa Pork Industry Center

Title of Success Story:
Reducing non-productive sow days

After giving a presentation on ‘Precision Management for Swine Operations” at a swine conference in LeMars, I was contacted by a producer who had been at the meeting.  He had some questions on how to interpret the data from their sow management system software, particularly on how to use the information to improve profits from the farm.

Work with the swine producer to show them how to use information from their existing sow management software system to identify areas within the production system that would enable them to reduce their cost of production, with minimal additional investment.

After talking on the phone, the producer sent me a copy of the data from his sow management system software.  I was able to examine the data, compare the results to existing benchmarks, and identify the areas of performance that held the most promise for improvement.  After going over the data, I scheduled a farm visit to work with the swine producer and his wife to go over my findings.  The performance of the pigs at his farm was very good in the areas of litter size and pre-weaning mortality.  However, the areas of farrowing rate and non-productive sow days were not as competitive when compared to industry benchmarks.  While visiting with the couple at their farm, I reviewed several of the reports from the sow management software system that demonstrated the poor performance.  In this situation, when examining the pattern of recycling in his bred sows, I found that approximately 15% of his sows were being found open in the last month of gestation.  This is quite high compared to the expectation of 3%, and was costing him in excess of $200,000 per year.  When I asked about his ‘preg checking’ program and what machine he was using, he related that he had stopped preg checking his sows because his ultrasonic machine was broken and he had not fixed it.  When I pointed out the additional costs that he was incurring due to this management lapse, the producer couple were quite surprised. 

Outcome Statement:   
Short-term results measure awareness and knowledge. 

The producer was made aware of the cost of skipping a basic swine management activity such as preg checking his sows.

Medium-term results measure behavior change. 

The producer had the ultrasonic machine repaired the next week, and started the preg checking program back again.

Long-term results measure condition (i.e., new standard).

The producer was able to restart their preg checking program, and the savings over the next year should be in excess of $100,000.

Page last updated: June 19, 2011
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