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Knowing Your Production Capability

This information will help you to set up your farming operation for a powerful and robust system

Fredrik Sandberg, PhD, vice-president of health and nutrition, Furst-McNess Company

Last week, I continued our discussion of the system of “evidenced-based pig production,” focusing on the topics of your herd’s genetic potential and health status.

I highlighted the importance of understanding your herd’s genetic potential and using that information to decide how close to that genetic potential it is economically feasible to attain at any given time. I stressed the need to effectively communicate and analyze the key indicators of health information in order to arm yourself with the greatest level of management control.

This week, I discuss the importance of knowing and communicating the limits of your production capability.

Every system is set up to function at different levels. Some owner-operators are upset when nursery death loss exceeds 1 per cent. Other larger systems, due to external labor and/or poorer quality facilities, are happy with less than 3 per cent death loss for the same phase of production. Stakeholders must know what your goals are. This is where records and data become powerful as they are not subjective – rather, they are based in facts.

The physical aspects of production environments are hugely variable. I work with producers from North Carolina to northern Minnesota and most states in between. The variation in designs of feeders, slats, room dividers, hallways and ventilation systems still takes me back. Yet, all those factors will directly affect the final performance and data. Geographical aspects of the external environment, in terms of heat and humidity, are also critical.

Production records are about averages and consistency – it only takes one or two poorly producing sites in a system to pull the system average down. We need to identify these sites quickly, and either remedy the situation or remove these sites from the system. We need to know and communicate the limits in our production environments to our stakeholders so they can support our success. With the use of modern technologies, we can communicate water, temperature and many other aspects of the production environment in real time.

Next week, I’ll discuss the final hurdle in the system of “evidenced-based pig production.” Specifically, I’ll explore the topic of the “average pig” versus a population of pigs.

Dr. Fredrik Sandberg is the vice-president of health and nutrition for the Furst-McNess Company. He has primary oversight of the company’s swine feeding program, as well as its research and development program, with a heavy focus on antibiotic-free and ractopamine-free feeding programs for swine, poultry and ruminants. Sandberg completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, with a focus on computational modeling of growth and nutrient requirements in swine during periods of health and disease.