As America’s pig farmers continue to fight back from the negative impact of COVID-19, along with the ups and downs of markets and bad weather, a new National Pork Board (NPB) study shows those farmers continue to make strides in overall sustainability by being more efficient every day.

The 15-page Production Analysis Summary for U.S. Pork Industry: 2017-2019 report looked at sow, nursery, finish and wean-to-finish data during a three-year period. The results reconfirmed long-term trends of increasing efficiency, which has the additional benefit of reducing production costs.

“One of the greatest benefits of this Pork Checkoff-funded study is the benchmarking ability it offers producers who always want to improve their efficiencies,” said Chris Hostetler, NPD animal science director. “It’s also a great way to show today’s consumers that America’s pig farms are becoming more efficient all the time and that pork is a sustainable choice when it comes to choosing a protein.”

The study revealed several rules of thumb for improvement:

  • Farrowing rate: A 1% change in farrowing rate equals a 0.34 pig increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example: A change of 4% in farrowing rate equals an increase or decrease of 1.36 pigs weaned/mated female/year.
  • Piglet survival: Based on 15 pigs born per litter, a change of 1% in piglet survival equals a 0.36 increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example:  A change of 4% piglet survival equals an increase or decrease of 1.44 pigs weaned/mated female/year.
  • Female death loss: A 1% change in female death loss equals a 0.25 pig increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example:  A change of 4% in female death loss equals an increase or decrease of one pig weaned/mated female/year.

The findings also identify possible improvements in genetics, nutrition, health and management practices, among other areas.

According to Hostetler, the goal of the study’s production analysis is to aid the pork industry in improving profitability, which serves as part of the sustainability equation. “We hope producers will dig into the specific parts of this study and use it to help improve their own farm businesses,” he said.

Click here to read the report.