To determine if a Husbandry Educator (HE) could positively affect mortality or culling rates, productivity, and treatment costs in postweaned pigs.
Two trials were conducted, each comparing nursery group performance monitored by a HE to that in groups receiving standard care (SC). Trial 1 was a retrospective analysis that compared mortality rate, end-of-nursery weight, and treatment cost before (n = 72 groups) and after (n = 83 groups) HE training at 12 nursery sites. Trial 2 prospectively compared the percentages of culls, mortality, and high-value nursery pigs and per-head treatment costs in groups randomly assigned to HE (n = 20) or SC groups (n = 20). Production outcomes were compared at the group level.
In Trial 1, differences between HE and SC groups in overall mortality rate (3.12% ± 0.001% versus 3.64% ± 0.004%) and treatment cost per pig ($0.54 ± $0.06 versus $1.08 ± $0.08) were significant (P < .001). End-of-nursery weight was higher in HE groups (26.28 ± 0.20 kg) than in SC groups (25.51 ± 0.20 kg; P < .05). In Trial 2, percentage of high-value end-of-nursery pigs was higher in HE groups (93.92% ± 0.007%) than in SC groups: (91.48% ± 0.007%; P < .001). All values expressed as mean ± standard error.
The systematic application of husbandry practices taught and encouraged by a HE and focusing on individual pig care and execution of existing protocols can significantly improve productivity, mortality and culling rates, and treatment costs in growing pigs.
Galina Pantoja L, Kuhn M, Hoover T, et al. Impact of a Husbandry Education Program on nursery pig mortality, productivity, and treatment cost. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21(4):188–194.