Even in the best-managed barns, one out of three sows is either over or under her ideal farrowing weight which of course affects her litter size and viability. These less productive sows cost the industry almost $30,000 for a group of 1,000 sows. The task before every pork producer is how to get their farrowing rates up and their costs down. The best way to do this is by incorporating state of the art sow weight monitoring into your electronic sow feeding systems.
The Age-Old Problem
Chances are, if you are a pork producer, you know you are overfeeding some sows and underfeeding others. Underfeeding or overfeeding will almost always lead to underproduction in your pigs. To achieve a healthy period of gestation, a sow requires enough nutrition to support both her own growing needs and those of her piglets. A general rule of thumb is that 70% of the feed a sow takes in goes to maintaining her body mass and 30% goes to her developing piglets. If that sow is being underfed, you will likely see a reduced farrowing rate, small piglet size and/or poor piglet health, or poor health in the sow herself.
Why Don't Back Fat Measurements Work?
In an effort to provide each sow what she needs, many producers have turned to visual or mechanical measures such as back fat and body condition scores. These are great indicators, but they are only part of the whole picture. Without weights, these are just educated guesses at best.
There is a huge amount of variation in sows with the same back fat measurement. In fact, some report more than 77 pounds of difference in sows with the same body condition score. Over the course of a sow's gestation period, that could be as much as a 100 pound difference between the feed she needed and the feed she received. Think of the impact that overfeeding or underfeeding could have on her and her piglets; not to mention your bottom line as a producer. Feed is one of the more expensive investments you make as a pork producer, and you want it to be money well spent.
Sow Weight Monitoring: Part of the Hog Barn Design
Without a doubt, sow weights provide the best individual standard for determining feed requirements. It used to be that sow weights were just too complicated to attain to serve as a regular sow measure. For one, gathering weights stressed the girls out because there was no way to get their weights unobtrusively. Fortunately the tides are turning with state of the art hog barn designs and improving technologies.
With customized sow weight monitoring built into the infrastructure of a hog barn design, our New Standard hog barns will see significant gains in production, savings in feed, and healthier pigs. New Standard makes it easy to collect sow weights by designing the weight monitoring system into the Electronic Sow Feeding process. Weights are collected as your girls walk through the sow separation system, causing them no stress and giving you the data you need to make informed decisions. Additionally, these regular weigh-ins mean that you have the opportunity to spot problems in your pigs before you lose money, or pigs.
An even more exciting future is on the horizon as we are working with a couple universities to develop better feeding programs based upon a sow’s weight throughout her gestation cycle. Watch for future posts and follow up as this information becomes available.
If you're interested in seeing how sow weight monitoring is incorporated into all New Standard barns, or how continuous weight monitoring could boost your sow production, click below for a free consultation.