Pig Improver newsletters

Download previous newsletters

Developing Gilts Versus Market Hogs: Health and Nutrition Essentials

August 10, 2021 | You’ve invested a lot in replacement gilts. They’re the future of your swine herd. Are you paying enough attention to the little details that make a big impact with successful gilt development?

To help your gilts realize their genetic potential, it’s essential to provide a healthy, clean environment with adequate space and proper nutrition to ensure your gilts’ well-being. Tailoring these to meet their specific needs will enhance their lifetime performance.

Developing Gilts Versus Market Hogs: Protect Your Genetic Investment

July 20, 2021 | Reviewing the basics and fine-tuning your swine management practices will help you raise the best replacement gilts possible.

Unlike market pigs, replacement gilts are the future of your herd. Treat them right to ensure their well-being and allow them to express their full genetic potential.

The Hidden Lives of Pigs

June 30, 2021 | Understanding pig behavior is a key to successful, low-stress pig management. Most pig behavior (both normal and abnormal) is related to the animals’ natural, survival instincts.

Many factors can influence pig behavior, and addressing these challenges often requires a variety of initiatives. Here are 5 tips to help you distinguish normal pig behavior from abnormal behavior:

Answer These 5 Questions to Define Your Marketing Strategy

June 8, 2021 | You’ve made a big investment over many months to help your pigs grow efficiently and stay healthy. But are you leaving money on the table at marketing time?

It’s important to define your marketing strategy before new pigs arrive at your barn, because your plan will determine how the pigs will be placed or sorted in the barn. Here are 5 questions to help you maximize your marketing strategy.

Beat the Heat: Follow 3 Ventilation Basics to Improve Production

May 19, 2021 | Pigs share some common traits with people. They like their surroundings to be comfortable, especially when it gets hot outside. While people can sweat, pigs can’t.

Pigs’ inability to cool themselves easily can cause heat stress, which leads to lower feed intake and reduced growth rates. During the third quarter (July – September), the average market weight in the US is more than 4 pounds lower, compared to swine market weights rest of the year. This represents a weight loss of 1.6%.

Trending Now: Sows with strong mothering ability weaning more and heavier piglets

April 8, 2021 | What’s trending today? Sows that are low-maintenance, high-performing and efficient. These sows can care for and consistently wean quality pigs. We’re measuring and selecting for sows with these capabilities. Here are a few highlights we are seeing in our Elite Farms.

3 Factors that Impact Nutrient Intake in Wean-to-Finish

March 16, 2021 | When pigs enter the wean-to-finish barn the goal is to get those pigs to market as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. An area that impacts this goal is nutrient intake. Nutrient intake includes three areas: feed availability, water availability and diet adequacy. Ensuring these are managed well will help pigs reach their full potential.

The PIC team of Wayne Cast, nutritionist, and Isaiah Spath, technical services specialist, shared tips to improve nutrient intake during our recent virtual event, On the Road With PIC.

6 Steps to Prep Farrowing Rooms

February 23, 2021 | A well-prepared farrowing room is critical to sow farm success, but often the task is overlooked or deemed less important than other daily chores. Follow these six steps to fully prepare and create optimal farrowing room

Producing a Quality Weaned Pig: Focus on Health

February 2, 2021 | Who doesn’t love walking into a farrowing room and seeing large, healthy litters of uniform pigs? Every pig is active and full, with clear eyes and no evidence of disease. Producers and veterinarians know these pigs have the best chance of becoming a quality weaned pig.

Good health is one of the most important factors a quality weaned pig must have, says Perry Harms, DVM, North American Health Assurance Director for PIC. Four areas impact the health of a quality weaned pig: genetics, management, herd health and nutrition.

Wean-to-Finish: Maintaining Health with Immunity Management, Production Flow and Disease Surveillance

January 12, 2021 | Health status is one of four key drivers of wean-to-finish success. When pigs enter the barn healthy, this sets the stage for optimum performance through finishing. Three key pieces to maintain health are immunity management, production flow and disease surveillance.

The Benefits of a Quality Weaned Pig

December 22, 2020 | Extraordinary times call for performing ordinary practices with precision and purpose to maximize results. Producing quality weaned pigs is a good example. Ideally, every pig farrowed should have the opportunity to become a quality weaned pig, but it takes a combination of factors to make that happen.

Although there is no standardized definition, three industry leaders recently shared the elements they feel are most important in achieving a quality weaned pig.

Making Every Mating Count

December 1, 2020 | Traditionally, when farrowing rate trends are flat or down, our first instinct is to blame breeding or semen. However, there are more factors involved that influence farrowing rates and many times data is pointing us in a different direction.

PIC took a data deep dive to look at trends and further understand all factors affecting farrowing rates and how they impact each other on a system level. The goal? Find opportunities and make every mating count.

Wean-to-Finish Excellence – Health Status

November 11, 2020 | Health status should be at the top of the list when managing wean-to-finish barns, but sometimes it slides down the priority list. Operations with introduced disease challenges suffer immediate financial losses and may be at risk for further losses later.

Protect Your Herd: Avoid These Common Biosecurity Mistakes

October 20, 2020 | Health risks are always looking for a way into the barn. They are relentless, and your biosecurity practices need to be relentless too. Overlooking just one biosecurity protocol could lead to lost productivity and profit.

The PIC Health Assurance team has been in the field, assisting farm teams to improve biosecurity implementation. As they worked with these teams, they noticed a trend. The same biosecurity breaches kept popping up. Review the list below. Are any of these happening in your facilities?

Four Cornerstones to Achieve Wean-to-Finish Excellence

September 30, 2020 | The cornerstone is the first stone set in a masonry foundation. All other stones are set in reference to this stone, and in turn, the cornerstone determines the position of every other stone in the structure.

Think about this concept in terms of a wean-to-finish operation. What needs to be set in place first to ensure success later? Based on research and applied knowledge, PIC identified four cornerstones or drivers of wean-to-finish excellence.

Breed Gilts at the Right Time to Optimize Performance

September 9, 2020 | As genetics advance, so have parameters for gilt eligibility at first breeding. Meeting eligibility requirements set gilts up for a successful first parity and subsequent parities for maximum lifetime performance. PIC defines gilt eligibility using these four components:

  • Age at puberty
  • Age at first breeding
  • Body weight at first breeding
  • Number of estrus at first breeding

Gilt Selection ROI Analysis: Performance improvements justify increasing gilt selection pressure

August 19, 2020 | Increased gilt selection pressure results in higher sow retention rates, higher sow lifetime performance, higher farrowing rates and larger litter sizes. However, uncertainty around performance improvements and costs have traditionally stopped producers with internal multiplication from increasing selection pressure.

Beat the Summer Heat: Review semen handling and storage protocols

June 16, 2020 | Don’t let improper semen storage and handling impact your farm’s reproductive performance this summer. Revisit these 8 semen management practices before the temperatures start to rise.

Freneystown the latest addition to PIC’s Elite Farm System

May 26, 2020 | Last month, 1,000 gilts and boars traveled with first-class treatment onboard a Boeing 747 from the U.S,landing safely in Dublin, Ireland. They were heading to Freneystown in the Irish countryside, home to Hermitage Genetics’ flagship farm. These animals are some of the most productive in the world, and will form the elite population of the latest addition to PIC’s elite farm network – Freneystown.

Five Practical Tips to Improve Farrowing Rates

May 5, 2020 | Farrowing rate is one of the key drivers of pig farm performance and efficiency, says Brad Schimmer, technical services specialist for PIC. He notes that five areas are pivotal to achieving good farrowing rates: heat detection, the insemination process, semen management, feed management/body condition, and choosing the right females.

10 Measures to Protect Against COVID-19 on Farms

April 7, 2020 | Cautious times call for cautious measures and that’s never been more apparent than now, with the COVID-19 coronavirus impacting people around the globe. PIC has implemented the following protocols on their owned farms across the globe and encourages other farms to evaluate and implement recommendations to reduce COVID-19 impacts.

Improving Sow Retention Rates: 8 Strategies to implement in your barn

March 24, 2020 | Improving sow retention through genetic selection is one part of the solution, but environmental factors have a large impact on sow retention rates too. Use these eight strategies in your barn to make improvements in sow retention.  

Improving Sow Retention Rates: A case study

March 4, 2020 | Lower sow retention can be the result of a higher mortality rate. Several risk factors contributing in different ways leave producers facing a very complex issue. The solution is a comprehensive approach to drive improvement. Let’s walk through a case study.

Improving Sow Retention Rates: Focus on maternal robustness and longevity

February 12, 2020 | Sow robustness has been a long-term selection goal in PIC’s genetic improvement program. Our effort to influence sow retention rates began decades ago with phenotypic selection of feet and leg quality and structure.  

Robustness Impacts Overall Profitability: Three areas help determine an animal’s robustness

January 21, 2020 | The term “robustness” means different things to different people, but producers know it’s an important component in raising pigs. William Herring, Ph.D., PIC Director of Genetic Development, sees robustness as the ability of the pig, through genetic improvement, to grow and convert feed, to become a full-value market hog with a low potential for mortality, and to wean many high-quality piglets in the face of normal disease challenges.

The Squeal: A Year In Review

December 31, 2019 | Happy New Year! A new year brings a fresh start and new opportunities. As we set new goals for 2020, let’s take a moment to look back at the top 5 ‘The Squeal’ podcasts of 2019.

Click on the title to listen!

Meet the Needs of Your Wean-to-Finish Pigs

December 10, 2019 | The pig industry is changing and so are the pigs in the barn. As it evolves, the pivotal question becomes, “Are you keeping up with the changes?” There are five key variations that impact how you raise wean-to -finish pigs, says Nat Stas, technical service specialist with PIC: market weight, genetic improvement, people availability, feed cost and space cost

Not Your Father's Pig: PIC's genetic progress continues

November 19, 2019 | In 1962, PIC was founded, and U.S. pork producers weaned an average of less than 10 pigs per sow per year. By an amazing comparison, in 2017, some PIC customers achieved more than 35 pigs per sow per year, an average improvement of 6.4% every year.

What is even more amazing is that the rate of improvement shows no signs of slowing down, says Saskia Bloemhof-Abma, PhD, PIC Geneticist.

ASF: To know me is to kill me

October 30, 2019 | The world continues to grapple with losses and market place disruptions because of ASF. What can we do to mitigate risk? Is a vaccine the answer? Dr. Jose Manuel Sanchez-Vizcaino, Complutense University of Madrid Visvet Center and OIE-ASF Reference Laboratory says we need to keep studying the virus, until we know it well enough to eliminate it. “Normally we say, ‘to know me is to love me,’” says Dr. Sanchez-Vizcaino. “But for ASF, to know me is to kill me.”

Troubleshooting Ventilation Problems: Pinpoint challenges and find solutions

October 8, 2019 | This is the final article in our Ventilation Series. Below, we will guide you through some common problems to watch out for in your wean-to-finish barns.

Try a Little Tenderness: Pork industry makes meat quality a priority

September 16, 2019 | The pork chops you just lifted off your grill in the backyard look delicious: thick, meaty and juicy. Your knife easily cuts through and the light pink center lets you know they’re cooked perfectly. You raise the fork to your mouth for that pivotal first bite… Is it everything you’d hoped for?

Is Your Math Correct? Calculating the right air exchange to maximize your herd

August 27, 2019 | Optimizing ventilation is a matter of accurately setting up fans and inlets to maintain ventilation levels that
meet the needs of your pigs.

Never Stop Improving: Genetic Improvement in the Pig Industry

August 6, 2019 | The domestication from the wild boar to the domestic pig centuries ago was the onset of genetic improvement in pigs. Then afterwards, different breeds and lines were developed.

Ventilation Air Exchange: Is your air exchange promoting maximum herd productivity?

July 6, 2019 | Ventilation is critical in achieving top performance for any pig herd. When environmental conditions are not optimal, pigs won’t maximize their genetic potential – and farm profits will not be as high as they could be.

PIC's Podcast "The Squeal" Celebrates One Year

June 25, 2019 | We are pleased to celebrate the first anniversary of PIC’s swine management podcast, “The Squeal by,” and we couldn’t have done it without your support. In the first 10 episodes, we covered a variety of topics, from ventilation to nutrition, pork quality to gilt selection, and much more.

Getting it Right: Temperature and Ventilation

June 4, 2019 | Maintaining optimal barn conditions is important for the well-being of the pigs and barn staff, as well as optimizing farm productivity.

Producing Portugal’s Pork Raporal Sets High Standards for Portugal’s Pork Industry

May 14, 2019 | The U.S. doesn’t necessarily have a corner on top-notch pork production. Just east of Lisbon, Portugal, a
company called Raporal S.A. has been making livestock feed for almost 50 years and producing pork for nearly 40 years.

Optimizing Ventilation in the Pig Barn: Why ventilation is so important, and how to get it right.

April 23, 2019 | Maximizing the profitability of your operation means that every weaned pig should thrive. This will only happen with optimum feed, water and air. In previous PIC Pig Improvers, we have reviewed the importance of early pig care in achieving optimal lifetime performance.

Early Pig Care- Hydration and Early Feed Intake

April 2, 2019 | It’s obvious that proper hydration and good early feed intake will put every weaned pig on the road to success. In previous Pig Improvers, we ave reviewed the importance of good early pig care in achieving
optimal lifetime performance.

Biosecurity: More Important Than Ever

March 12, 2019 | As African swine fever (ASF) continues its deadly spread across Asia and Europe, discussions on biosecurity are laced with increased urgency. But even without a foreign animal disease, there are plenty of domestic health challenges that underpin the need for sound biosecurity practices on every farm.

Expect More from the Evolution of Genetics and Nutrition

February 19, 2019 | In this issue of the Pig Improver, we share more recorded presentations from our recent nutrition seminars that we held in August and October.

Early Pig Care- Placement Plan

January 29, 2019 | Every weaned pig must thrive to maximize the profitability of a pork operation. Previously in the Pig Improver, we have emphasized the importance of good early pig care in achieving optimal lifetime performance. Proper early pig care can lead to better animal well-being and reduced losses associated with fallback pigs, disease treatment and extra care.

2018 Nutrition Seminar Presentations

January 9, 2019 | In this issue of the Pig Improver, we share recorded presentations from our recent nutrition seminars that we held in August and October.

Early Pig Care- Temperature and Comfort Zone

December 11, 2018 | As pork producers are aware, every weaned pig must thrive to maximize profitability. In previous Pig Improvers, we have reviewed the importance of good early pig care in achieving optimal lifetime performance. Early pig care matters. Proper early pig care can lead to better animal well-being, reduced losses and maximized profits. Let’s review how to achieve proper barn temperature and correctly use comfort zones.

Farrowing Room Preparation

November 20, 2018 | A well-prepared farrowing room is critical to the success of a sow farm. Unfortunately, a proper setup is often deemed less important than other daily tasks on the farm. There are rules that everyone can follow to get the best environment for sows to deliver their piglets.

Brushing Up on Early Pig Care

November 1, 2018 | To maximize the profitability of a pork operation, we must optimize the health and performance of every weaned pig.
A good start is critical for optimal lifetime performance.

What Do Consumers Want?

October 9, 2018 | PIC keeps a close eye on market factors as they continuously affect producers, and we are driven to help make our customers the most successful pork producers in the world. Please read the latest insights on what consumers want in their pork now – and what they will likely want in the future.

Gilt Care- Let's Review

September 18, 2018 | Proper gilt management means caring for gilts correctly from birth, not just during the weeks before breeding. We cannot treat gilts like market pigs or we risk their health, productivity and longevity in the herd. A long, productive and impactful life is the goal for every PIC sow. Correct cared-for gilts are the key.
Let’s review the key points of proper gilt care.

Why Heavy Weights are the Future of Pig Production

August 28, 2018 | For decades, market pig weights have been steadily rising around the world. In the United States, market weights have increased by about one pound (~450 gram) every year over the last 30 years.
Why is the pork industry actively moving towards heavier market weights? The short answer is more profit. Within integrated production systems or simply at the processing plant, operational costs are the same no matter the weight of the pigs. Heavier carcass weights mean more saleable product is produced, with operational costs staying the same – and therefore more profit is achieved.

Colostrum Management

August 28, 2018 |
The importance of colostrum for the health of piglets is unquestioned. Colostrum provides energy and hydration to maintain vital bodily functions. It also provides protection against pathogens through local immunity (digestive) and systemic immunity. Pre-weaning mortality (PWM) continues to be one of the main challenges for the producer’s financial bottom line. Research shows that an amount of 200 cc of colostrum on day one increases survivability of piglets born in the 2 to 2.5-pound range (0.9 to 1.1 kilo) by 4 to 5 times (Ferrari et al (2014)).

The Non-Negotiable Basics to Develop High Lifetime Performance Gilts

August 7, 2018 | “Gilts are the foundation of your herd. Industry-wide, there is still skepticism over how much gilts can impact overall whole herd results,” says Dr. Pedro Mosqueira, PIC Technical Services Manager. “We believe that there is still room for improvement in sow performance through proper gilt development.”

A Day with PIC's Pork Quality Team

July 17, 2018 | Environmental factors account for the large majority – approximately 60-to-70 percent – of variation in pork quality. Guided by our Pork Quality Blueprint, PIC offers a system review service for its customers. This review service aims to help customers improve environmental factors that impact pork quality. The PIC Pork Quality team travels to PIC customers’ plants around the world, conducting up to 40 system reviews per year. What is involved in these reviews?

Feeding Gilts the Right Way

June 26, 2018 | The North American pork industry is constantly striving to maximize performance and efficiency across all stages of production. Gilts must be given appropriate care in order to maximize their lifetime performance. Alongside proper gilt selection, environmental conditions and stocking densities, it is critical that gilts receive proper nutrition to prepare them for high lifetime performance.