The Power of PigCHAMP Data to Propel The Industry Forward

Mary Feldskov

Across the globe, PigCHAMP databases house records on millions of animals. On the farm, managers use this information to make daily management decisions – to breed or to cull? To retain or to sell? Analysis of cumulative data helps managers with long-term business planning and decision making. Users of PigCHAMP software have come to rely on this data to manage their day-to-day operations, to grow their farm businesses and to keep their animals healthy.

For more than 10 years, PigCHAMP Benchmarking has tracked the data of more than 1 million sows from over 500 farms in Canada, the US and globally, allowing individual farms to compare their production data against other farms. Quarterly and annual reports are sent directly to each participating business, and the results are tabulated and recorded in our annual Benchmark magazine – you can see this year’s results, and a summary of the past 10 years, on pages 15-19 and on the PigCHAMP website, pigchamp. com. The annual Benchmarking program is another tool for farmers to make the most of the vast quantity of data that is collected using PigCHAMP software.

“Analysis of the data that is collected in PigCHAMP databases can be used in many ways to propel the global hog production industry forward.”

The aggregate data that PigCHAMP gathers has value beyond the farm. Through partnership with academia, organizations and agri-business, analysis of the data that is collected in PigCHAMP databases can be used in many ways to propel the global hog production industry forward.

In last year’s Benchmark Magazine, we brought you an article about the introduction of JBS United Animal Health’s new product, OvuGel® - a FDA licensed gel formulation containing a GnRHanalogue. OvuGel® is the first product approved for synchronizing ovulation followed by a single fixed-time AI in weaned sows. In conventional breeding programs, weaned sows are bred after observing for standing estrus. The time to return to standing estrus following weaning is a variable that depends upon a number of factors such as the overall health of the animal, genetics and season. As a result, staff must heat check animals daily and breed accordingly in the 7 days that follow weaning. In the JBS United’s Animal Health OvuGel® trials, all sows were treated with OvuGel® 96 hours after weaning and subsequently inseminated 24 hours later with a single dose of semen – whether or not estrus was detected. In their studies, they found that for every 100 weaned sows, approximately 3-4 more sows were pregnant using fixed single time AI – due to the fact that sows were bred that would otherwise have not been, since they had been mated regardless of the expression of estrus. The article, and the accompanying research data, described how the use of OvuGel® and single fixed-time artificial insemination can have significant impacts on the farm: pigs per semen dose will be significantly greater; reduced labor costs; impacts on genetic improvement; and reduced piglet variation were among the outcomes that JBS United research had identified. (To read the full article in the 2014 Benchmark Magazine, visit www. pigchamp.com/benchmark-magazine)

In the year that has followed, JBS United Animal Health continued to research and review new farm data after product launch. For many of these farm trials, data was collected in a number of different software management programs. They frequently found it difficult to extract data in a meaningful way that allowed for further detailed analysis – without significant staff hours spent manually extracting data and entering it into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. That was until Chris Eden, a member of JBS United’s Technical Services Team, ran into PigCHAMP’s Jayne Jackson at an industry event and told her about the challenges they were facing getting the data they were collecting out of the various software programs.

“PigCHAMP has always strived to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to meet the needs of our customers and our industry,” says Jackson. “When Chris Eden came to us with a problem, we knew we could find a solution.”

Working with Jackson and the PigCHAMP team, Eden was able to import data from other software programs into the PigCHAMP program, and customized reports were created that gave him the data and information that he needed to further analyze the information collected during the OvuGel® trials.

In the original pre-launch licensing trials, JBS United Animal Health observed sows for signs of heat during the application of OvuGel® application and subsequent single fixed-time AI. However the focus was to evaluate the impact on the entire breeding eligible pool. When segregating the two populations of sows, heat vs no heat, one can see impact on the overall population. “It was like a light-bulb came on,” says Dr. Charlie Francisco, Director of Technical Services. Upon further analysis, they now recommend that staff observe for heat Day 5, the time of single-fixed time insemination – and sows that are not observed in standing estrus should continue to be monitored and receive another service on Day 7, 8 and thereafter if heat is detected. These “opportunity sows” may be serviced a second time if they are found in heat up through pregnancy detection. Conversely, sows that did not exhibit heat throughout the process may still, in fact, be pregnant, and should be checked for pregnancy before culling.

Keeping track of all this information makes for more sophisticated record keeping and the need for segregated data analysis. In addition to tracking signs of heat and OvuGel® application, variables such as parity, nutrition, genetics, and overall health of the animal are tracked and analyzed too. In this case, JBS United Animal Health recommends tracking two different populations – sows that are exhibiting heat during single fixed-time AI, and those that aren’t. “PigCHAMP software has the ability to identify treatments or responses, variables such as heat detected versus no heat detected, OvuGel® versus no OvuGel® treatment. Other record keeping systems have always been behind the 8-ball in that regard,” says Eden.

“JBS United Animal Health sees great value in the breadth and depth of data that is contained in PigCHAMP’s benchmarking database.”

Beyond the OvuGel® trials, JBS United Animal Health sees great value in the breadth and depth of data that is contained in PigCHAMP’s benchmarking database. They are working with Dr. Dennis DiPietre, a US-based swine economist to develop a forecasting model. Using the Benchmark data, a “virtual sow farm” will be created, and the impact of changes of various Key Performance Indicators can then be modeled. “The goal is to predict that if we change “x”, or change “y”, how does that compound and impact a farm over time,” say Eden. This project is still in its early stages, but Eden and his colleagues at JBS United Animal Health believe that the results could have a huge impact on the future financial well-being of sow farms.

Comparison of reproductive performance with control and OvuGel

Comparison of pregnancy rates with control and OvuGel

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