Productivity of the US Breeding Herd

Last week I was asked by 2 different clients for data on the productivity of the US breeding herd. In reply to their question I went back and looked at data from the quarterly USDA Hogs and Pigs report. I reviewed the data from June 1 thru May 31 for the 1992-93, 2002-03 and 2012-13 periods. I also reviewed the data from the PigCHAMP record system annual production summary for US cooperators.

For 1992-93 US producers reported a pig crop (pigs weaned) of 13.6 pigs per average animal in the kept for breeding category. This increased to 16.8 for the 2002-03 period and increased again to 20.3 for the 2012-13 period.

Note that this number most likely includes unmated gilts destined for a breeding herd and cull sows not yet sold. In comparison, the number of pigs weaned per mated female reported by producers using PigCHAMP were 19.1 for 1995, 19.2 for 2002 and 23.8 for 2012.

This suggests that the gains in productivity from 1992 to2002 were due to efforts of producers to reduce non-productive female days and the adoption of hand-mating and then AI mating. The improvements from 2002-2012 can be attributed in part to the genetic advances in the number of live born piglets per litter farrowed. This number was 10.0 in the 1995 summary, 10.1 in the 2002 summary and 11.8 in the 2012 summary.

The seasonality of pork production has also decreased. In the 1992-93 data set, the percentage of the pig crop weaned in the Jun-Aug, Sep-Nov, Dec-Feb and Mar-May reporting periods was 25.0%, 24.1%, 23.5% and 26.9%. In the 2012-13 data set the percentages were 24.8%, 25.1%, 24.6% and 25.5%.

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