Monday, October 5, 2015

Pigs per Sow Lifetime

What is it and why is it so important?

MealMeter feed dispenser
When we set out to develop the MealMeter, we were focused on two main benefits; to increase production while decreasing feed waste. Now that we have had the MealMeter in front of pre breed gilts, weaned and under conditioned sows, and lactating sows for a few years on our sow farm, we are noticing many side benefits that are just as important, which are increased pigs per sow lifetime and reduced early culling.

Let’s focus on pigs per sow lifetime. In a recent NationalHog Farmer article, Ron Ketchum and Mark Rix from Swine Management Services explained this calculation as (pigs weaned lifetime from females culled, died and euthanized) divided by (females culled plus females died plus females euthanized).

This is an important number, arguably more important than PSY, because it is a better look at the overall ROI of each sow. A sow as an economic unit does not reach profitability until after parity three. Also, pigs from multi-parity sows have higher wean weights and perform better in the grow/finish sector.

Pork Network published an article a month ago called “How the U.S. pork industry can make an additional $250 million” that discusses the benefits of focusing on sow longevity.

“If each sow in the U.S. produced one more litter in her lifetime, the U.S. swine industry would generate another $250 million of net value for the pork industry,” says Jon Bergstrom, Ph.D., senior technical support manager for DSM Nutritional Products.

So what does this have to do with the MealMeter?

By ad lib feeding at critical times in a sow’s reproductive cycle, over time we have been able to greatly increase our pigs per sow lifetime, reduce early culling, and therefore reduce our replacement rate in addition to many other benefits.

The image below displays those critical times in orange.  When pre breed gilts and sows are able to efficiently consume their rations to maintain condition, they will in turn perform better in subsequent parities and remain in the herd much longer.

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

When developing the MealMeter, we noticed that gilts would adapt quickly and limited intake days were avoided. This turned into higher P1 performance, which then led us to putting it in front of the weaned and under conditioned sows, along with lactating sows. These immediate benefits were apparent, along with better feed efficiency and less feed waste.

Over the long term, we began to see much less fallout from our herd. Sows who started off on the MealMeter continued to perform well and we were able to reduce involuntary culling of younger, low parity sows with performance issues from lack of consistent feed intake.

Overall, using the MealMeter has made a lasting impact in our operation.

But let’s talk numbers.

The year before implementing the MealMeter, our farm’s average pigs per sow lifetime was 45, which was a pretty reasonable number to us at the time. So far in 2015, our average pigs per sow lifetime has shot up to 58 and we are seeing the numbers continue to trend upward.  The return on investment is far reaching as higher lifetime production mean our sows are staying in the herd longer. This increases profitability while producing heavier, healthier pigs.

Until next time,


For more information on the MealMeter, you can visit the PigEasy website,

If you’d like to talk to us about its benefits on our sow farm and how we can help you get started with the MealMeter, please call 888-354-0112.