Implementing BLUP Sow Indexing for Closed Herd Swine Systems

John Mabry, Director, Iowa Pork Industry Center

Situation:

A common need of Iowa pork producers is to improve their herd health and lower their cost of production.  In the past, pork producers have commonly purchased their replacement females from seedstock multiplier farms.  In so doing they have exposed themselves to any diseases present in the multiplier farm, and they must pay this multiplier farm for their services.  One approach that has been done by more aggressive pork farms is to produce their replacement females internally.  This certainly reduces their health risk.  However, this requires more management by the commercial pork producer to maintain genetic improvement.  The use of BLUP breeding value estimation procedures will assist the producer to maintain the same rate of genetic progress as purchasing replacement females.  Since Iowa State University has been a leader in developing BLUP genetic technologies, ISU Extension has worked on adapting these genetic technologies for use by commercial pork producers.

Objective:

Adapt BLUP genetic evaluation technologies to work with standard reproductive management software for use on commercial pork farms raising their own replacement females.  Install this software at the farm and train farm personnel in its operation.  Utilize the reproductive software data to monitor long term results.

Activities/Output:

ISU Extension personnel that work regularly with both BLUP genetic estimation programs and on-farm reproductive data management programs developed a computerized interface between the two technologies.  They then wrote report generation programs designed to work on Windows OS.  To educate about these developments the ISU Extension personnel gave state-wide and regional seminars on how to use these technologies on the farm.  Several commercial pork producers who attended these presentations then requested ISU Extension to install the systems on their home computers.  ISU Extension personnel then visited the farm, installed the software and trained the pork producers in how to use the software and how to set up a farm specific internal multiplication program.

Impact/Outcomes:

The net effect of implementing this program at the farm level has been to reduce genetic cost of production by $1-2/head.  If a typical 2400 head sow farm markets approximately 48,000 pigs/year, the savings in genetic costs will be from $48,000 to $96,000 per year.  The added benefit from a health standpoint is harder to document.  However, recent research has shown that avoiding a reproductive disease break saves another $75/litter produced, a savings of approximately $432,000 per year.

October 2006

108 - Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: October 24, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu