CategoryAnimal Science - Animal Science
Date Full Report Received08/06/2006
Date Abstract Report Received09/09/2008
InvestigationInstitution: Iowa State University
Primary Investigator: Locke Karriker
Co-Investigators: Colin Johnson, Ken Stalder
Funded ByNational Pork Board
The objectives of the study were to develop educational materials to assist pork producers and animal caretakers in the evaluation of sow body condition, to estimate the amount of feed and associated costs that are necessary to add weight to cull sows, and finally to estimate the cost / benefit of adding weight to cull sows that are from a modern – lean genetic line. New tools were developed to assist pork producers in the evaluation of body condition of breeding herd females. The tools include a poster that was included as an insert to the May Blueprint issue of the National Hog Farmer magazine. Additionally, two additional pages describing the evaluation of body condition were added to the Gilt Evaluation Pocket Guide.
When determining whether to add weight to cull sows to increase their value, producers should determine if health is the likely reason that an individual sow is thin when making culling decisions. Because of increased mortality risks, sows with obvious health issues are not good candidates to feed to heavier weights. Cull sows that are light weight because of their high productivity can efficiently add weight where a producer can increase profit. Producers will have to identify whether existing, relatively low cost facilities are available for feeding cull sows. If reasonable facilities are available and based on historical cull sow prices, it appears that it is profitable to feed cull sows that fall into the sow processors lightest weight category (less than 400 lbs.). However, high operational costs (due to labor allocation and / or facilities) can make feeding cull sows unprofitable. Producers should be aware of current market price and the historical prices and relationships between different cull sow weight class prices to determine the likelihood of that feeding cull sows to heavier weights will be a profitable decision. Additionally, feed costs are an important consideration when producers are considering adding weight to cull sows. A specialized, low cost cull sow diet may be required to add weight economically efficiently. Profit can be attained only when feeding healthy sows, utilizing the lowest price feed available, and with cheap, underutilized or depreciated facilities.