It’s time to rethink sow productivity measures

Sow lifetime productivity (SLP) is defined as the total number of quality pigs that a sow weans from the time she becomes breeding eligible until she leaves the herd. But too many sows leave the herd too soon. Research shows that one in 40 sows die before exiting the farrowing stall.

“We need to look at sow data differently,” said Chris Hostetler, animal science director for Pork Checkoff. “Pigs per sow per year not only fails to address the sow’s longevity; it does not account for piglet quality or viability.”

In 2010, the National Pork Board’s producer-led committees created the Sow Lifetime Productivity Task Force to identify and fund research to address areas that affect SLP. The National Pork Board committed $2.7 million of Pork Checkoff funds over seven years, with the goal of identifying strategies to improve industry SLP by 30 percent. The completed research is now available, via four archived webinars  presented last August.

This year, the National Pork Board expanded its sow longevity efforts by organizing the Pig Survivability Working Group. The Pork Checkoff’s animal science committee has committed nearly 80 percent of its 2018 research budget to the effort, with the animal welfare and swine health committees bringing total Checkoff funding to $1 million. Iowa State University researchers, headed by Jason Ross, Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) director, was awarded the first project to classify sow mortality reasons, with an emphasis on sow pelvic organ prolapses. The researchers are tracking more than 100 farms and 400,000 sows from 16 states. Weekly reports are available online from IPIC.

Original article, The Pork Checkoff

Sow Lifetime Productivity Provides a More Complete Picture