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Hendersonville,  TN 
United States

Since 1962, our focus at PIC is to "Never Stop Improving."

At PIC, we provide the most advanced genetics for performance you expect today, while investing in the genetic improvement for tomorrow. We deliver realized genetic gain to make our customers more successful each day through accelerating genetic improvement, healthy supply and unrivaled service.

PIC offers industry-leading global expertise at a local level, including: applied reproduction, breeding herds, pig performance, applied meat science, nutrition, health, data and genetic management.

Brands: PIC®800 is the best Duroc sire for robustness, ease of management, fast growth and meat quality. The Camborough® is a low maintenance, high performing sow yielding more pounds with less effort.

 Msg #4367: Press Releases

  • October 15, 2020

    By JoAnn Alumbaugh, Featured in Farm Journal's Pork

    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.

    It’s more about quality than numbers, says Dr. Steve Dritz, DVM, PhD, global director of technical services at PIC. Before joining PIC in March of this year, Dritz was a long-time professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at Kansas State University. He says producers should keep three points in mind when it comes to quality: Know the characteristics that contribute to producing a quality weaned pig; understand what factors impact those characteristics; and acknowledge how important producing a quality weaned pig is to the success of each pork business.

    “Margins in the pork industry are obviously tighter than we would all like,” says Matt Davis, chief operating officer for Hord Family Farms in Bucyrus, Ohio. “We firmly believe that a good quality pig over a marginal or sub-par pig is always going to be more profitable, will reach market faster for less money, and is more likely to be a grade-A market pig in 5 months from weaning.”

    Individual pig performance can lead to higher profit potential at market, says Dritz.

    “Also, populations with a higher percentage of quality weaned pigs are easier to manage post-weaning due to more predictable and consistent performance,” he adds.

    Key Attributes
    “Quality weaned pigs possess several key characteristics – not just one,” Dritz says. “These attributes are indicators for the nursery and grow-finish performance potential of the pig.”

    Dritz says quality weaned pigs have the following attributes:
    •    Healthy
    •    Thrifty
    •    The right age/weight
    •    Consistency

    He adds that thresholds for each characteristic are different for every flow, based upon the goals and constraints of each operation.

    “Its the interaction between these factors that add up to make a quality weaned pig,” explains Dritz.

    Health is influenced by disease prevalence and circulation, colostrum quality and intake, robustness, genetics and gilt acclimatization protocols, Dritz says.

    Davis describes a quality weaned pig as healthy and sound when it leaves the farrowing house and is ready to start eating upon entry into the nursery or wean-to-finish barn.

    “If you want to have a healthy weaned pig, you have to have a healthy sow. You can’t have bad health in your sow herd and still produce a healthy pig,” he points out.

    With 30,000 sows at Hord Family Farms, Davis knows how important it is to amplify the potential from every pig.

    In terms of vigor, Dr. Rodger Main, DVM, PhD, puts health status as No. 1, including the health of the sow and the source farm. He is director of the veterinary diagnostic lab at Iowa State University, where he also serves as a professor and faculty member.

    “Both factors have a huge impact on the health of the weaned pig,” says Main.

    “Also related to vigor is whether or not the animal wants to eat after it has been weaned – and that’s highly significant,” he adds.

    A thrifty pig has a willingness to eat and thrive, Dritz says. Genetics, nutrition and early pig care play significant roles in a pig’s thriftiness.

    “A pig can only be as good as its genetics,” Davis says, adding that nutrition is also an essential component of producing a thrifty pig.

    “When I think about a quality weaned pig, I think about viability, vigor and a pig that is free of defects, at minimum,” says Main.

    Age and Weight
    Dritz says the combination of a pig’s age and weight is a critical attribute. “It’s not just one or the other,” he says. “It’s the combination of both the age and weight together that are key.”

    “We know heavier pigs at a given wean age or at birth are usually better performing pigs,” he says. “At PIC, the number of pigs per litter born has increased,” Dritz adds. “Typically, that’s associated with less weight per pig born and in scientific literature there’s a strong correlation between the two. But PIC has been able to increase the birth weight of the pig while at the same time increasing litter weight. That’s a good example of a genetic base that can help produce more quality weaned pigs.”

    Davis says quality pigs are healthy, sound and have a good appetite. In other words, they are already off to a good start when they leave the farrowing barn.

    Along with heavier pigs at birth, research supports the benefits of a higher wean age in producing a quality weaned pig, starting with the classic work Main led nearly two decades ago. His PhD thesis focused on weaning age, which correlated with a heavier pig and faster growth rate to market.

    “We found the impact of age at weaning when everything else was held constant was extraordinarily predictable and very linear,” he continues. “The studies were done in large commercial facilities, so that helped with replication.”

    “While the actual dollar figures [on cost of production] have changed since that time, the biology and the basic take-home message from this work remains as relevant today as it was in those days so many years ago,” he emphasizes.

    The Full Monty
    As the three leaders point out, many factors come together to make a quality weaned pig. If just one component is missing, it can impact the others. It’s this emphasis on doing “everything that is necessary, appropriate or possible” – in other words, the full Monty, to quote a British slang phrase – to produce a quality weaned pig. Producers who are willing to maximize their quest to produce a quality weaned pig will be more likely to reap the benefits in productivity and profitability.

    Producing a quality weaned pig starts with having good people in the sow units who produce and raise the pigs and get them to weaning. “We truly believe it starts with the people,” Davis says.

    “If you have the best health, the best genetics and the best nutrition, but you’re lacking on people, your pigs are not going to be as good as if you have all of those things. If just one factor is missing, you’re going to feel it. They’re all very important,” Davis says.

  • 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.

    Immunity management
    The objective of immunity management is to promote competent immune system development, ensuring animals can endure infectious disease challenges. The early post-weaning phase is one of the most critical times for immune system development. Immunity management should minimize stressors, allowing pigs to adapt to their new environment while building immunity before encountering challenges in the next production stage. 

    Immunity management relies on having enough labor, the right skills and solid team communication.

    • Allocate enough labor: To provide small but critical adjustments in early pig care, and to identify potential health issues and manage them early before they ecome larger profit-impacting problems, staff your barns with an adequate number of quality workers.

    "Upon arrival, weaned pigs will need vaccinations based on your veterinarian's farm-specific vaccinaiton strategy, careful observation and excellent early pig care," explains Fernando Gomez, PIC Director, Wean-to-Finish Technical Services. "This means allocating enough staff. Enough staff to ensure stress is minimized and carry out all the early pig care procedures and identify health issues as soon as possible. If your team isn't large enough, wean-to-finish herd health and immunity won't be safeguarded. The small signs will get missed, the small adjustments won't be made, and health problems will quickly develop."

    • Skills development and training: Train staff in animal husbandry and basic treatment practices. Training will help develop skills to identify early clinical signs of disease and the use of a treatment decision tree.

    "Trained staff with experience in early pig care – which consists of proper reception of pigs into the right environment, focused feed management, ensuring adequate water intake, and daily observation to identify fallback pigs – are critical to protecting pig immunity and health," says Dr. Will López, PIC Weanto-Finish Technical Services. "Caretakers are your first line of defense in protecting health and immunity. Once they develop the required skills, they will recognize early signs of disease before problems develop that require much larger intervention. Yes, it takes time and effort to raise the skill level of your caretakers, but this will result in better wean-to-finish herd health and immunity, which translates into efficient growth with lower costs for disease treatment and special care."

    • Team communication: Good communication is another critical part of achieving excellence in herd health and immunity, says PIC Health Assurance Veterinarian Dr. Deanne Hemker.

    "This starts with early identification of pigs showing signs of disease during the daily walkthrough and frequent and timely communication with the farm manager and veterinarian about the best course of action," she explains. "It's also important to have regular feedback channels to ensure appropriate implementation of intervention procedures and to evaluate the success of these procedures for future recommendations. Without effective communication among all team members, you are putting herd immunity and health at risk. With good communication, herd health is protected."

    Production flow
    A single source flow is the most effective strategy to manage health statuses in growing pigs. When mixing weaned pig sources, it is important to take special precautions to mitigate risk.

    When mixing flows, match the health status of the flows as close as possible. This means customized testing for the diseases of greatest concern for each system, some at the positive/negative result level, others at the strain or serotype level. "The better the diagnostic picture, the more knowledge you have about the endemic (existing) pathogens in terms of their type and virulence level," says Dr. Hemker. "We are talking about targeted testing by your veterinarian with well-defined goals in place. Use diagnostic results to make better-informed management or treatment decisions. Investing in targeted testing will pay off because you base your decision- making on a complete picture, and you won't make mixing mistakes that can cost your operation substantially in treatment and care labor."

    Disease surveillance
    Once weaned pigs are received, manage both existing disease and potential disease threats effectively and efficiently to achieve excellence in wean-to-finish health status. Diseases cannot be appropriately controlled or eliminated unless it's known which diseases are present and how they behave within the population.

    Tailor disease monitoring/surveillance to each production system based on farm history, regional disease challenges and so on. "This will inform which age groups of pigs to sample, what types of samples to take and what diagnostic tests to perform," explains Dr. López. "The sample size and frequency of sampling will also be specific to your needs."

    The information generated or obtained by monitoring/surveillance programs will trigger actions within an overall strategic plan to control and/or eliminate pathogen(s) from the herd. These might include:

    • Control vs. elimination
    • Medication
    • Vaccination
    • Flow mixing decisions
    • Depopulation-repopulation

    "Targeted testing of source flow health status (if you mix sources) and targeted disease monitoring/surveillance of your wean-to-finish herd will ensure you minimize disease threats and control existing pathogens effectively," says Dr. López. "Knowledge is key. A complete picture will enable you to keep your herd healthier while keeping cost down and improving performance."

    More resources
    Looking for more resources on herd health? Check out PIC's The Squeal podcast series on wean-to-finish herd health:

    For help with wean-to-finish health or to learn more about the resources available, contact your PIC team.

 Msg #4368: Products

  • PIC®800: Performance Redefined
    PIC®800 has established himself as the most advanced Duroc terminal sire through trial-validated superior growth, a carcass lean advantage and more full value pigs....

  • The PIC®800 is the best choice for producers who value Duroc traits like robustness, ease of management, and fast growth. The PIC®800 also meets the needs of producers that market to packers who want a Duroc with outstanding meat quality and strong carcass characteristics.

    PIC®800 drives profit through:

    • Excellent growth rate
    • Strong feed efficiency
    • Superior durability and throughput
    • Excellent meat quality & carcass value
    • Most full-value pigs marketed

    PIC®800 is the result of years of investment in genetic improvement. He was bred to respond to market demand by reinventing the Duroc and redefining eating satisfaction.

  • PIC®337: Heavyweight Champ
    PIC®337 has established his place as a leading terminal sire through consistent, trial-validated advantages in growth and efficiency with excellent heavyweight performance....

  • PIC®337 is the best choice for producers who want an exceptional feed conversion with superior performance at heavy weights. The PIC®337 offers producers the greatest profit potential.

    PIC®337 drives profit through:  

    • Superior feed conversion
    • Excellent heavy weight performance
    • Lean gain efficiency
    • Valuable carcasses

    Known for maximizing profitability throughout the pork chain, PIC®337 delivers exceptional performance on the farm and at the plant.

  • PIC Camborough®: Unrivaled Performance
    The Camborough® has set the standard in sow performance since 1963. As the market leader in sow genetics, she is the ideal choice for producers looking for a low-maintenance, high-performing sow that yields uniform, heavy pigs....

  • The Camborough® is predictable and easy to manage. She creates value for every link in the pork chain, including:

    1. Lowest cost per weaned pig through more productive days, lower feed cost and strong mothering abilities, as compared to other genetic suppliers
    2. Contribution to high-performing progeny through more and stronger piglets ready to grow
    3. Ability to perform across multiple environments through robustness

    The Camborough® comes with PIC’s commitment to customer success through economically relevant breeding goals, unrivaled technical support and a healthy supply chain.

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