Performance monitoring to help pig producers grow
Performance monitoring on-farm and benchmarking are vital core components that help producers identify areas for business improvement and growth. Pig & Poultry Fair partners ABN, explore this in the run-up this month’s major industry event.
"If pig producers are to improve their unit's performance and therefore their profitability, it is critical that they know how their unit is currently performing in order to know what actions could be taken to improve output," says ABN's National Pig Specialist Ian Watson.
'Growing your Business' is the theme of the Fair, and a key element of ABN's commitment to the sector is helping producers to achieve this through performance monitoring within their business, helping them be more efficient, explains Ian.
"For customers who currently do not use either a Bureau system, or some form of on-farm software, ABN has recently developed its own in-house system, using the resultant output data against relevant industry benchmarks," he comments.
Tim Blanchard, who farms in Oxfordshire, with a closed unit comprising of 720 sows, has used performance monitoring and industry benchmarking to improve his herd and business over recent years.
"We monitor our herd's performance so we know where we are going, and where we have come from. Historically, our focus was on the performance of the finishers, and during this period we began to notice that we had a lot of sows on the unit not performing.
"Over the last three years we have readdressed the balance and moved our focus towards monitoring the performance of the sows. By using the Agrosoft Management Software to generate regular performance reports, any sows seen not to be performing to the desired benchmark are culled off as part of the strategy. We now have an average parity of around 4.5," adds Blanchard.
"Besides using an on-farm software, we have also been closely involved with BPEX through a recording project. This has really helped us to push our herd's performance and drive efficiency as we continuously benchmark our figures against the industry average."
Blanchard explains that the biggest difference can be attributed to monitoring all aspects of sow efficiency. "If producers only focus on one area of their business, I would really encourage them to closely monitor their sow performance as this is key; it all starts with the sow," he notes.
"To improve the performance of our sows we have worked closely with the ABN team to get the nutrition right. We've also worked alongside our vet to ensure sow health is in order. A trusted team of advisors is crucial to help units grow their performance."
By improving sow performance, Blanchard has needed to expand the unit to accommodate the extra pigs being reared. He concludes, "By maximising the output of our sows, we have legitimately been able to improve and grow our business and it all started with effective performance monitoring."
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