Summary Of The 2008 Data
The results are only as good as the data.
By Susan Olson
Yearly benchmarks serve as “state-of-the-industry” reports that provide both motivation for change and recognition for how far the industry has come. The PigCHAMP annual year-end benchmark, for example, reports average production values as well as the upper and lower 10th percentile values for participating sow farms.
But what does it all mean? For pork producers, the annual PigCHAMP benchmark data and analysis offer points for herd comparisons. In many ways, the annual benchmarks are like new technology- their value lies less in the possession and more in the implementation. And that leads into benchmarking—the active use of benchmarks to improve productivity.
Although the content of quarterly and year-end benchmarks may be limited to an extent, they provide relevant information. And as with other technologies, the value of the benchmarks lies within the implementation of benchmarking and the steps taken toward herd improvement as a result of the findings.
The first step in creating benchmarks is the establishment of a database that includes the records of the farms that share in the benchmarking project. To allow comparison, farms with stable herds that have reported production throughout the calendar year are included.
To benchmark breeding herd performance, farms to be included for analysis are selected. This is a two-stage selection process, based on completeness of the data for the benchmarking period (quarter or year) and stability of the sow inventory.
A performance trend report is run and only those farms with complete data for the entire period are considered for benchmarking. This is followed by generation of data integrity checks for each of the farms selected. The last day of the report is the last day of the benchmarking period in both the performance trend report and data integrity check. The value of the percentage change in inventory for the final year is checked to determine the eligibility of the farm to be included for benchmarking. If the percentage change in inventory is more than 40%, the farm is excluded.
These criteria are essential to ensure the quality of benchmarking. Inclusion of farms with incomplete data may adversely affect the ability to generalize the benchmarks for one or more variables. Similarly, farms with excessively unstable female inventories may be indicative of rapid expansion or termination of operations. These variables can have extreme values that may not represent the production performance or sustainable achievement of the herd.
Of course, other measures should be considered in validity, including biologic consistency. Most of these validity steps are included within PigCHAMP Care 3000 during data entry. Together, they create the opportunity to increase the confidence and repeatability of reported productivity levels in participating farms.
Editor’s Note: Susan Olson is the Knowledge Center Manager for PigCHAMP, Inc.