Ambitious target for Danish pig genetics

DanAvl, the farmer-owned organisation that develops, markets and sells Danish pig genetics across the world, has set a target of quadrupling its turnover by 2020 and aims to become one of the world’s leading breeding organisations.

The target was revealed at the Annual Herning Pig Congress, in Denmark, where the Danish Pig Research Centre (DPRC), which is responsible for the management of the DanAvl programme, said the aim was to increase annual turnover to £680 million in the next seven years. Current annual revenues are £170 million, with half that coming from outside Denmark.

“The strategy has been developed with a focus on optimising the value of DanAvl for its owners, Danish pig producers,” the DPRC’s chief executive, Nicolaj Nørgaard, said, adding that the country’s pig genetics were currently in high demand worldwide because the stock exhibited high health standards and growth rates, resulting in low mortality and medicine requirement.

Meanwhile, DanAvl product manager Trine Vig revealed that the top 25% of herds in the breeding programme – which includes 50% of the national herd – averaged 32.3 weaned pigs/sow/year in 2012 from 15.8 live-born pigs/litter.

The top herd, however, was already weaning 35.9 pigs/sow/year at an average weight of 5.5kg (the normal Danish weaning weight is 6kg). That particular unit achieved 16.7 live-born pigs/litter and 14.8 weaned pigs/litter to leave a mortality during lactation of 11.1%. The herd’s farrowing rate was 92.8%.

Ms Vig said she couldn’t yet see an upper limit to the number of pigs weaned/sow/year, but that the improvements that were being seen were due to better piglet survival rather than higher numbers of live-borns.

The breeding programme now had a heavy focus on the LP5 trait (measuring the number of living pigs at day five), which had a weighting of 27% in the breeding objectives, second only to feed conversion at 42%.

“It’s all about piglet survival,” Ms Vig added. “What we’re interested in is piglet numbers versus viability.”

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