19 August 1997

Records help improve quality

PIG producers should make better use of records as a foundation for management strategies to improve quality and consistency of finished pigs.

At People In Pigs, Bishop Burton College, Yorks, PICs technical services manager Sue Corning said only 35 processing plants accounted for 70% of the pig kill.

"While these plants have well-defined contract specifications finishing pig weights can vary by as much as 15-20kg liveweight on the same management regime at the same age," she said. This incurred financial penalties for pigs sold underweight or with P2s outside contract specifications.

"Better record-keeping and interpretation of results could be used to limit this variation. But unlike specialist breeding units – where simply counting pigs born alive provides an indication of performance – performance on finishing pig units is harder to measure."

Staff should, therefore, be trained to take and interpret records and to appreciate the value of hitting contract specifications established, she advised.

She urged producers to use records more effectively to establish accurate costs a kg liveweight gained and changes in performance.

"Simply plotting average P2 measurements achieved, will show trends in P2. Variability in individual pig performance will also be highlighted by plotting pig weights as they progress through the finishing system," said Miss Corning.

Any changes can then be related to management changes which have taken place on the unit.

"For example an increase in air speed of only 0.1m a second can drop air temperature by 1C. And for every 1C fall below a pigs lower critical temperature an extra 32g of feed is required for maintenance for a 60kg pig," she said.

PICs Sue Corning: Better use of records will improve quality and consistency of finished pigs.