Save More Pigs Per Litter

Consumer demand continues to drive a boost in price and the number of hogs in production. But production efficiency is where pork producers can capture the extra value potential in this growing market.

September’s USDA Hogs and Pigs Report showed producers have put a lot of attention to sow farrowings and piglet health. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.10 million head, up 2% from 2016.

The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.65 for the June-August period, compared to 10.58 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.80 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.70 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

Pigs saved per litter illustration 20171204
Illustration: Alison Fulton

Just a few years ago, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus took a major hit on piglet survivability. Pork producers have not only regained productivity levels lost during that time, but surpassed previous levels on a steady upward trend.

“Full recovery from PED was faster than most people expected,” said Ron Plain, in an interview after the USDA report. “We’re continuing to do well on breeding and reproduction across the industry.”

U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.07 million sows farrow during the September-November 2017 quarter, up 1% from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016. The next quarterly report from USDA will be released Dec. 22.

If you are not up to the benchmark average, here are four tips to increase piglet survival rates.