GB breeding herds produced almost an extra pig per sow in 2017, according to the latest figures from Agrosoft.
The overall GB average of 25.8 pigs weaned/sow/year was 0.9% up on the 2016 figure and well above the average annual improvement of 0.5 recorded over the previous five years.
Indoor herds averaged 27 pigs weaned/sow/year, up by 0.7 on 2016, with the top 10% averaging 31. But for the second consecutive year, this growth was outpaced by the improvement in outdoor herds, which produced an extra 1.2 pigs/sow/year to reach an average of 24. The top 10% achieved in excess of 27.
The biggest driver, indoors and outdoors, was higher numbers of pigs born alive/litter. Indoor herds averaged 13.3 and outdoor herds 12.1, alongside small increases in average litters/sow/year, to 2.3 indoors and 2.28 outdoors.
Outdoor herds saw the greater improvement in headline performance on the back of a reduction in pre-weaning mortality to 13.1%, the lowest level since 2012. In contrast, indoor figures worsened slightly to average 12%.
While the improvement is encouraging, even the indoor figure still falls short of the 2016 EU average of 27.53 pigs weaned/sow/year. This is due mainly to a higher average EU born alive figure of 13.8/litter. Interpig figures for 2016 showed Denmark achieved 32 pigs weaned/sow/year, followed by Belgium and the Netherlands at around 30 and Germany on 29.
However, AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said the improvements were ‘particularly encouraging considering the increasing focus on reducing antibiotic usage’.
Outdoor feed consumption/sow fell by an average of 112kg in 2017, despite higher weaning rates, while indoor sow consumption increased by 34kg, although it was stable on a per weaned pig basis. That narrowed the difference in sow feed costs/weaned pig to less than £3.
The trends for the rearing and finishing herds were less positive in 2017. The feed conversion ratio (FCR) for rearing herds increased from 1.7 to 1.77, although the extra feed boosted daily weight gain by over 30g to 516g/day.
The finishing FCR increased by 0.21 to 2.86, while weight gains fell by around 17g to 833g/day, which may be related to slaughtering at heavier weights. Overall these changes meant around 17kg more feed was used per pig last year, contributing to higher feed costs.
At a glance…
Pigs/weaned/sow 27 24
Pig born alive/litter 13.3 12.1
Pre-weaning mortality 12 13.1
Pigs weaned/litter 11.7 10.5