The Right Thing to Do

by Valerie Duttlinger

As a pork producer I can relate to the challenges that occur on farms every day, as well as the satisfaction of raising healthy hogs that supply nutritious pork for a growing world population. I also am an analyst for Swine Management Services (SMS) in Fremont, Nebraska. There I review swine production records with the objective of identifying trends and providing analysis to advance pig health, productivity and well-being.

“We need to step back, look at what’s challenging pig survivability and work to turn it around. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

– Valerie Duttlinger, Indiana

The Pork Checkoff’s newly organized Pig Survivability Working Group is committed to finding answers to improve mortality rates from the breeding herd to the market hog. It’s easy to see that addressing pig mortality has real economic benefits for the nation’s pork producers – a 4 percent change in sow mortality is equal to one additional pig weaned per mated female per year. Individual herd numbers will vary, but in the SMS wean-to-finish database, a 1 percent change in death loss is worth $1.44 per pig.

But there also are real animal well-being benefits. As producers we care about our animals and enjoy raising robust, productive pigs. We need to step back, look at what’s challenging pig survivability and work to turn it around. It’s simply the right thing to do.

In the months and years ahead, the Pig Survivability Working Group will select and fund research to find solutions that we can implement on our farms. I encourage each producer to join me in evaluating his or her farm records, management practices and herd health, and then compare results and share ideas. We’ve worked together many times in the past for the good of the industry, and this is one more time where it will take cooperation to make progress.