Summary of the 2007 Data
Productivity comparisons reveal similarities, differences and areas for improvement.
By John Deen
The summary data can be segmented in various ways, but a common comparison is between the United States and Canada. As in previous years, Canada has many areas of higher productivity. The reasons have been discussed, but the most probable reason is that the higher financial pressures have forced Canadian farms to be more efficient. Secondly, there is a larger proportion of herds that sell weaned pigs in Canada, with their income directly tied to sow productivity. Finally, there may be lower likelihood of infectious disease outbreaks, particularly in Western Canada, where the distance between farms is quite large.
We continue to see some general trends across the industry as well.
Sow productivity continues to increase, particularly through litter size. Mortality rates have reached a prior plateau, though the last quarter rates of Canadian herds are significantly higher, suggesting that slaughter alternatives may be limited.
Range of Performance Too Wide
The problem is really not where you live, though. The summary indices of most interest are the range of performance estimates. Take a look at the range of performance across the major indicators. Whether in Canada or the United States, there is a wide range of performance that is not explained by location. Moreover, the capability to reach high levels of productivity appears to be similar across both industries.
Recognizing that the capabilities to excel are similar and the design of sow units also does not differ greatly, it is mostly a function of the management within the farms. It may be useful to start looking at availability of skilled labor for estrus detection and breeding, inspection and treatment frequency for sick sows, and the general effects of genotype and housing methods.
As we look at future changes in the industry, it is probable that poor performing herds will not survive in any market. It may very well be that the higher financial pressures on Canadian herds will create an even greater difference in performance in the future. However, all farms should recognize their opportunities to improve within the ranges shown by this database.