Genetics change lifts pig productivity

Introducing possibly one of the fastest-growing terminal sires on the market for an Oxfordshire pig producer has seen 10% increases in meat yield, daily gain and throughput.

Reducing days to finishing has resulted in feed savings of £17,940/100 sows producing 26 pigs a year sold.

So for the 700 sows on the Midland Pig Producers closed-herd system at Upper Farm, Warborough, investment in the Hermitage Seaborough Maxgro terminal sire 12 months ago has been paying dividends.

The decision to change to Maxgro was partly decided because space restrictions on the farm were limiting the kg liveweight off the farm says herd manager, Jason Evans. “We were told Maxgro would increase growth rate, feed intake and conversion efficiency, while at the same time yielding quality lean meat.

“We didn’t expect to see such a difference, as I am usually quite sceptical, but the results have been incredible,” he adds.


At the beginning, Mr Evans inseminated Maxgro to only half of the herd and continued inseminating the rest with Pietrain semen. “The results were instant,” he says. “Some Maxgro pigs were being pulled out to slaughter as much as three weeks ahead of time.

“Now all terminal stock is from Maxgro, which is a 50% Pietrain-based synthetic line. Before, we were sending pigs off at 163 days weighing 72kg deadweight and now they are being sent off averaging 77kg in 147 days, so we are increasing the amount of weight sold through faster growth.

“The Maxgro has had a high feed intake from day one, although they don’t drag any condition from the sow,” he adds. “And although feed intake is increased, a saving on feed costs is made due to faster finishing rate.

“With pigs averaging a growth rate of 808g a day, a total feed saving of 30kg a pig is being made. With UK feed prices averaging £230/t, this equates to a saving for each pig of £6.90, due to finishing earlier.”

Although no serious difficulties have been experienced with Maxgro, Mr Evans says it has taken some getting used to gauging finishing weights. “Before I used to be able to predict finishing weights of pigs by eye. But in the beginning with the Maxgro it was difficult as it is a similar size pig, but a lot heavier due to more muscle, so we had to resort to weighing them initially.”

Looking at a Maxgro pig you can see piglets are muscular, stockier and firmer with good strong bones, says Mr Evans. “They also have a wide loin, which makes the animal look shorter, but in fact they aren’t.”

And from a marketing point of view, producing a leaner animal is what the consumer desires, says Hermitage Seaborough’s general manager, Simon Cook. “The rate and efficiency of lean tissue growth have become more economically important traits than overall growth rates,” he adds. “High lean-growth pigs have a higher peak muscle growth, as with the Maxgro, and they have the ability to continue laying down muscle to heavier weights.”

But the Maxgro isn’t just a good meat producing animal. By increasing the through-flow by finishing earlier, stocking rates can be reduced, adds Mr Cook. “Reducing stocking rates alone can improve growth rate and from a health point of view, as pigs aren’t under such stress, there are often fewer health problems.”

See more