PIC Matters Newsletter

PIC Matters – The newsletter from the PIC-Team in the UK

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6 Steps to Prep Farrowing Rooms

A well-prepared farrowing room is critical to a pig unit’s success, but often the task is overlooked or deemed less important than other daily chores. Follow these six steps to fully prepare and create optimal farrowing room conditions.

Five Practical Tips to Improve Farrowing Rates

Farrowing rate is one of the key drivers of pig farm performance and efficiency, says Sebastian, technical services specialist for PIC. He notes that five areas are pivotal to achieving good farrowing rates: heat detection, the insemination process, semen management, feed management/body condition, and choosing the right females.

Making Every Mating Count

Looking beyond breeding and semen handling for answers
Traditionally, when farrowing rate trends are flat or down, our first instinct is to blame breeding or semen. However, there are more factors involved that influence farrowing rates and many times data is pointing us in a different direction.

PIC took an in-depth look at trends to further understand all factors affecting farrowing rates and how they impact each other on a system level. The goal? Find opportunities and make every mating count.

Breed Gilts at the Right Time to Optimise Performance

Hit these targets for best lifetime performance, cost savings

As genetics advance, so have parameters for gilt eligibility at first breeding. Meeting eligibility requirements set gilts up for a successful first parity and subsequent parities for maximum lifetime performance. PIC defines gilt eligibility using these four components:

  • Age at puberty
  • Age at first breeding
  • Body weight at first breeding
  • Number of oestrus at first breeding

Within each of these components, specific targets are identified. Hitting all targets on each gilt served is vital to optimize cost-efficiency, longevity and lifetime performance. Each target is equally important. Research shows meeting just two or three of the four targets will not have the same positive results.

Robustness Impacts Overall Profitability

Three areas help determine an animal’s robustness.
The term “robustness” means different things to different people, but producers know it’s an important component in raising pigs. William Herring, Ph.D., PIC Director of Genetic Development, sees robustness as the ability of the pig, through genetic improvement, to grow and convert feed, to become a full-value market pig with a low potential for mortality, and to wean many high-quality piglets in the face of normal disease challenges. Robustness is the ability of the pig to be resilient in the face of those conditions, and then extends through finishing in the form of efficient gain in challenged conditions, he says.

From a genetic improvement perspective, Herring puts robustness into three categories: gilt and sow soundness, pre-weaned piglets, and wean-to-finish pigs.

Optimum boar replacement rate accelerates genetic progress to drive more profit

Genetic progress delivered from the Elite Farms to the commercial level creates economical benefits for pork producers. The faster genetic progress is transferred down the pyramid, the more economically beneficial it is for producers as genetic lag is being reduced.

The reproductive cycle of pigs determines the existence of a genetic lag. However, if we can improve the efficiency in transferring the genetic progress, producers experience the genetic improvement in their operations faster, thereby increasing the efficiency of the entire production system and profitability: higher weight gain, higher piglet survival at all stages of production, more piglets born, lower feed conversion and etc.

Future-proofed Genetic Improvement - The PIC®800 – a practical example

The pig sector has undergone a continuous development during the last decades, a process that has accelerated during the last 5 years due to increasing globalisation and the implementation of new technologies. Genetic companies have to face these challenges and adapt to the accelerated process of changes. In consequence they need to provide more efficient, more sustainable genetics and services to pig producers globally to ensure and further improve their competitiveness.

Let’s have a look at the challenges of the future pig sector

Never Stop Improving: Genetic Improvement in the Pig Industry

The domestication from the wild boar to the domestic pig centuries ago was the onset of genetic improvement in pigs. Then afterwards, different breeds and lines were developed. At the start of the 20th century herd books in Europe started to maintain pedigree records and advocated selection on physical appearance. This continued into the 1950’s when additional gains were achieved on backfat reduction and growth rate improvement through measuring these traits on individual animals. At the same time, physical appearance was still very important. As data recording methods and genetic evaluation methods evolved, breeding goals changed. At the same time, pig breeding moved from genetic improvement through open herd books towards breeding specific lines by individual breeding companies.

PIC: Where it all began – A small group of Oxford farmers …

Yeisk - New Elite Farm in Russia

For more than 20 years PIC has been a supplier of elite pig genetics from Europe and North America to Rus-sia. PIC’s customers in Russia rank in the top 20 largest pork producers in the country. With Russia’s objective to become one of five world-leading pork exporting countries and ensure local genetic safeguarding and additional contingency, in 2018 PIC decided to find a partner and create a high-level breeding farm in Rus-sia to produce elite sows and boars with high genetic merit.

Progress Through Generations - PIC’s genetic progress continues.

In 1962 PIC was founded in the UK when pig producers weaned an average of less than 10 pigs per sow per year. As an emergence of a monthly discussion group of farmers organised by an agricultural economist of the University of Reading debating how they could improve their pig business the Pig Improvement Company became a genetics provider which has since had such an impact on the global pig and pork production sector. In 2020 some PIC customers achieve with more than 38 pigs per sow per year a quadruplication of the early results.

And the rate of improvement shows no signs of slowing down. Four key pillars are driving accelerated gain:

  1. Large populations drive selection intensity
  2. Meaningful data capture focuses on what’s most important
  3. The best science drives accuracy of selection
  4. Selection is based on realizable commercial profit

PIC Matters June 2020

Freneystown: The latest addition to PIC’s Elite Farm System

PIC delivers genetic improvement with continued expansion
In May 2020, 1,000 gilts and boars traveled with first-class treatment onboard a Boeing 747 from the U.S, landing safely in Dublin, Ireland. They were heading to Freneystown in the Irish countryside, home to Hermitage Genetics’ flagship farm. These animals are some of the most productive in the world, and will form the elite population of the latest addition to PIC’s elite farm network – Freneystown.

Information by PIC Europe Health Assurance Team: Corona-Virus COVID-19

The PIC Europe Health Assurance Team has created a document which provides background information and on-farm staff recommendations regarding the Corona-Virus COVID-19.

PIC Matters Spring 2019

Nutrition Update: Seasonal Diet Formulation for PIC Pigs | PIC’s Pork Quality Blueprint: More than 22 years of innovation and achievement | New Additions to the Team

PIC UK Newsletter Winter 2017/18

Genetic Update: Pig producers worldwide benefit from genetic progress | News from PIC UK: PIC and Hermitage move forward with new Scottish AI facility

PIC UK Newsletter Autumn 2017

Genetic Update: PIC is selecting for real life robust performance | News from PIC UK: The Skinner Family: 50 years partnering with PIC

PIC UK Newsletter Spring 2017

Technical Update: Eight Dimensions of Feed Intake | News from PIC UK: Save the Date: International Outlook Conference | Update: PIC aquires Hermitage Genetics

PIC UK Newsletter December 2016

PIC Pork Quality Programme: A Quarter of a Century of Progress Award Winners 2016 | Pig Farmer of the Year Award: Steve Hart, Norfolk Free Range | National Pig Awards and BQPs Annual Farmer Awards Night

PIC UK Newsletter August 2016

The next step-change in genetic improvement – Sequencing the PIC Genome | Managing Late Breeders | Martin Lewis wins TVC award

PIC UK Newsletter April 2016

Selecting Terminal Sires for Customer Profitability | Proper semen storage and handling on farm

PIC UK Newsletter December 2015

General Management of the PIC Gilt

PIC UK Newsletter August 2015

Welcome to the first PIC UK Newsletter! | Everyone is talking about genomics … Are all things equal? Or: What makes PIC different?