Pig farmers know that you need more than performance data to have an accurate view of the farm to support your business decisions. You need a global and systemic view of pig production considering the installed capacity of the farm, instead of focusing on individual processes.
This why we developed the concept of maximum production potential. This concept links live production with economic aspects, directing improvement actions to achieve the goal of delivering pigs.
Calculate your potential
In order to better understand the concept of maximum production potential, let’s compare a farm to a restaurant. Let’s say we have a restaurant with 100 tables with four places each. It opens five days a week, only for lunch, and each person spends, on average, BRL 25, or BRL 100 per table. You hired a sufficient number of cooks and waiters to serve these 400 customers daily.
Labor and infrastructure costs are fixed, regardless the number of people served daily. In order to be profitable, the restaurant must serve 400 people during lunch. If only 350 people are served, the idle capacity will negatively impact the profit. If you serve 100 tables with four people for five days a week, this means that the maximum production potential is 104,000 people per year, with an expected revenue of BRL 2.6 million.
The same principle can be applied to the pig farm. Let’s consider, for instance, a farm with 520 sows. If the genetic potential is to wean 30 piglets per sow per year, the farm’s installed capacity is to produce 15,600 piglets per year. If only 15,000 piglets are delivered, this means that 600 less piglets were produced, despite the higher potential.
Focus on delivery
The vision directed by delivery capacity allows a better understanding of the global goal of the farm. If you know your annual production capacity, it is easier to determine the monthly and weekly deliveries. If these goals are not met, you need to make a more detailed assessment of the performance data to try to identify where the problem lies.
Also, when the farm’s maximum production potential is defined, all the people involved have a clear understanding of production status and what are the expected piglet deliveries per year, month, and week. You need to prepare your team to understand this concept, so everyone can work together to improve the results.
What about you? Have you already defined the maximum production potential of your farm? Share your experience with us!
In the industry, one of the main indicators of productivity is the level of capacity utilization, which is the maximum output of the machinery of a factory. Outputs lower than installed capacity mean that the resources are underutilized, resulting in profitability losses. This is called idle capacity.
In pig production, idle capacity may also be problem. The difference is that, instead of machinery, we have sows. The farmer must have accurate knowledge of how much sows are producing and their production potential to be profitable. One of the most important loss indicators is the number of non-productive days (NPD), which is the sum of the periods during which sows are neither gestating or lactating.
NPD means economic loss
From the business perspective, non-productive days cause losses because during these days sows continue to consume feed, use space and labor hours, as well as veterinary products, and do not produce anything, which means the farm is being underutilized.
A high NPD number may be a direct result of one or several of the following situations: long weaning-estrus interval (WEI), number of empty sows, repeated cycling, abortion, false gestation, sow mortality and culling, etc. These indicators influence the number of farrowings per sow per year (FSY), which in turn, directly affects the main indicator of reproductive efficiency, which is the total number of weaned piglets per sow per year (WSY).
NPD mean losses
Non-productive days have several causes, and you must have accurate and systematized information on all of them in order to determine which has the strongest impact on your business. As an example, we will assess a sow farm with 660 sows with an average of 29.81 weaned piglets per sow per year (WSY) that sells 7-kg piglets at an average price of BRL 95 each.
Before analyzing the costs, we need to convert NPD in weaned piglets by dividing WSY per 365 days to obtain the number of piglets produced per sow per day. In this example, dividing 29.81 per 365 results in 0.0817 piglet per sow per day. If each piglet is sold at BRL 95, then the cost of each NPD is BRL 7.76 (0.0817 X BRL 95.00), which is the amount of money not earned by farm per NPD!
This piece of information will allow us to identify where the actual losses are. Therefore, when analyzing the production indexes of the farm, the type of event that generated the highest number of non-productive days (e.g., abortion, return to estrus rate, culling of gestating sows, etc.) should be identified. This assessment will aid the farm manager to make decisions that will bring the best return on investments.
The NPD also help measuring the impacts of production events. For instance, which is the impact of 42-d weaning-estrus interval? You only have to multiply 42 days by BRL 7.76 (cost of each NPD). Now you know that this single event results in BRL 325.92 loss in future farm revenues, in addition of the cost of maintaining non-productive sows in the herd.
The economic impact of each event that causes one NPD can be used as a guideline to establish an action plan to reduce the number of non-productive days. However, the cost of improvement actions should also be taken into account; the difference between the NPD cost and the improvement action cost will determine its feasibility. So, let’s get to work!
What about you? Do you keep an accurate control of your farm’s NPDs? Tell us in the comments section.
Customer satisfaction is the main goal of every business. After all, satisfied customers are loyal customers. This also applies to pig production. Excellence in delivery is as important as excellence in production, that is, to ensure that the demand is supplied as best as possible. Therefore, ideal delivery is one of the essential concepts of Thinking+1. Its aims at broadening the view on farm results.
The objective is to visualize not only how you are producing, but also how you are delivering your products. In practice, four essential factors of the ideal delivery need to be observed:
1) Quantity: in general, the customer states in the purchase order the number of animals that should be delivered at an established date. Based on this number, the farm may schedule weekly production to ensure this supply.
2) Quality: the customer also establishes quality criteria for the delivered products, such as type, weight, body frame, and genetics. As we know in advance the demands of the customer, we need to organize the production process to deliver the required quality.
3) Deadline: considering the quantity and quality demanded by the customer, the farm manager needs to calculate the time required for the delivery. This is a critical planning action, because the delivery date has a direct impact on final cost – the longer piglets take to achieve the desired weight, the higher are the costs.
4) Cost: the analysis of the costs needed to supply an order is essential to define if the contract is profitable. The comparison of production costs with sales price will tell you if the operation is profitable or not.
It should be noted that while quantity, quality, and deadline are determined by the customers, the producer is responsible for the costs. The lower the costs – provided the customer’s demands are supplied –, the more profitable is the business.
It is also important to emphasize that ideal delivery should also be included as a goal of the internal farm processes that should be achieved by the sectors involved in production. For instance, when the gestation unit receives the sows required by the farrowing unit, it must also check if the sows comply with the desired traits – proper body condition score, good health status, vaccination, etc.
Therefore, ideal delivery is part of pig production. Extracting the maximum production potential of the farm to supply the quantity and quality demanded by the customers at an acceptable cost and profit is the key to success. Manage your farm in this direction.
What about you? Do you already work with the ideal delivery concept?
Why am I not able to produce more? Why my business is not more profitable? All pig producers have asked these questions at least once. We believe the answers are in how farmers consider their operations.
Identifying problems means you need to stop looking at individual operational details, such as mating, weaning, farrowing, feeding, and vaccination, and to consider the farm as a business, analyzing the production process as a whole. The question then is: Where do I start?
Information is essential
Once you realize you farm could produce better results, you are already in the right path. Acknowledging symptoms is the first step for seeking solutions. The next step is to have good-quality information, which helps understanding what could be improved. Information is critical for diagnosis. When you see a doctor because you are feeling unwell, for instance, you expect him or her to request some tests. After all, if information is not sufficient, the probability of obtaining the correct diagnosis – and treatment – are reduced.
The same thing happens on the farm. To trace a problem, you need reliable and systematic information on production aspects. The figure below shows the key information required to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the farm.
This tree analysis provides a comprehensive view of the farm, and allows identifying the most critical point, which should be in the top of your priority list. This means that, despite the wide range of monitored indexes, it is possible – and required – to identify those that have a stronger impact on productivity and should be improved. Example: If the index “number of piglets weaned per sow per year” (WSY) is below the target, the problem may be farrowing rate or farrowing unit management.
I have identified the problems. What shall I do now?
The interpretation of the production data will allow you to identify the bottlenecks that prevent you from obtaining better results. If you have many, don’t be discouraged. You should prioritize the solutions for the problems that most affect productivity, and consequently, business profitability. During this process, do not forget to involve and train your team. When people understand the problems and the proposed solutions, they can become the agents of change.
What about you? Have you already made the diagnosis of your farm? Share your experience with us! Tell us in the comments section.
The beginning of a new year always represents an opportunity for improvement – and this applies to people, companies and, of course, farms. After all, we have 12 months ahead to reach new goals and try to make better everything we are involved in. However, this process of transformation requires planning, something which unfortunately has never been really part of our culture.
In farms, we commonly find people who follow the “on-the-fly planning” practice. People who get their hands dirty, who work very hard and face problems as they appear. The greatest damage caused by this practice is the lack of predictability – every day in the farm is a new surprise, which takes time from managers, results in rework and does not allow people to project the future.
In order to avoid this cascade of problems, we need to think ahead where we want to get, trying to anticipate challenges that may come in our way. In a farm, the best way to build this route is by establishing targets based on the expected production performance, from January 1st to December 31st. These targets will guide activities – in the short, medium and long run – towards the maximum production potential, ensuring business profitability.
However, those who have not outlined the targets for 2016 yet are late! Ideally, these targets should have been set in July last year, when breeding of the animals to be delivered in January this year started. If the manager waits until December or January to set the farm targets, the delay in the process may affect results, with a negative impact on the search for the maximum production potential.
It is essential that planning is part of a routine in the farm, so that the manager dedicates time to define both the targets and the ways to achieve them. This organization is necessary so that we have clarity about all the deadlines to be met so that farm results are positive, reducing losses.
The most important element in the planning process is to set targets that are based on reliable information on the production history of the farm, in addition to industry indicators, so that we can compare this history with the results achieved by farms of the same size and with similar characteristics. The Agriness Best in Pig Production competition is an excellent tool for that, providing a complete benchmark of the industry. It will help you and your team to set targets that are feasible and correspond to reality.
The goal of a good manager will always be to work with proper planning, setting targets and establishing routes, shorter ways between the situation where they are right now and where they want to get. From there, it is much easier to predict how the year will be like at the farm, reducing risks (and unpleasant surprises).
In order to facilitate the follow-up, we suggest that annual targets of the farm as a whole are broken down into weekly targets and, in some cases, targets for different areas in the farm. In this process, it is fundamental that goals are shared with the whole team through visual management tools so that everyone feels engaged.
If this has not been done in your farm, it is time to try to catch up – you can do it! Additionally, you should not forget to set aside some time in your agenda this year for the 2017 planning. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to successfully run your business.
What about you? Have you been working with targets for your farm? Please tell us about it in the comments!
One of the main problems of pig production management is the lack of planning. As most pig producers are used to making decisions based on the past, they find it hard to think their businesses far ahead. If you are one of them, it is time to change.
A good start to change is to understand a new concept: the ideal group. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, the proposal is quite simple: identify and invest in the best group of animals on your farm. However, in order to do so, you will need accurate and systematized herd information that will allow you to evaluate breeding, farrowing, and weaning indexes, for instance.
In general, the indicator that defines the ideal group is the number of piglets produced per sow per year. Based on this indicator, the sows which indexes are below that herd average should be replaced by well-developed gilts to increase productivity.
And this requires planning, as gilt replacement must be made on time in order not to negatively affect production. Culling sows only after weaning increases the risk of not having a sufficient number of good-quality gilts for replacement. This has a direct impact on breeding goals, and may cause further losses, as low-production sows are maintained in the herd, in addition of resulting in poor group uniformity.
We suggest that you evaluate sow results during gestation (70 days after mating, for instance) and not at weaning, which is typically done. This will allow you to have the time required – from gilt selection to their effective inclusion in the breeding herd – to properly develop the gilts, making them more productive during their lives.
The distinguishing feature of excellence farms is anticipation – to carefully plan every production step. Planning optimizes results, significantly improving farm performance, as it helps eliminating losses related to the maintenance of unproductive animals. Remember: you have to act now, but think ahead. The farther we look, the lower are the risks along the way.
What about you? Did you know the ideal group concept?