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Herd Size Comparison Reveals Differences

by 5m Editor
16 December 2005, at 12:00am

By Stephanie Rutten, DVM and published by PigCHAMP - Part of the competitive nature of pork producers is the desire to know "what the competition is doing." The compilation of industry benchmarks does more than satisfy curiosity – it provides a frame of reference for what an operation can do.

Benchmarks are not without challenges however. After all, who is the “competition”? Is it reasonable for the 200-sow unit to compare itself to the 2,000-sow unit? What about the farrow-to-finish operation versus the unit selling weaned pigs? The goals of the units may be different – the former may have flexibility to generate older, heavier weaned pigs to flow the system while the latter may be focused on delivering the maximum number of weaned pigs meeting specific quality criteria.

In recent years, we have observed a change in the herds participating in the annual PigCHAMP benchmark. Fewer herds represent, on average, more animals. But this pattern also leaves open the possibility that a benchmark is less applicable for an individual producer. A benchmark within a size cohort, for example, may hold more relevance for a given operation.

It is beyond the scope of the current annual PigCHAMP benchmarks to identify what performance measures are associated with profitability. Capital investments, labor requirements and animal replacement programs may differ substantially both between herd size cohorts and herds within the greater industry. Nevertheless, the competition is still able to access the same animals and technologies.

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Source: PigCHAMP - December 2005