Impact of a Husbandry Education Program on nursery pig mortality, productivity, and treatment cost

Lucina Galina Pantoja, DVM, PhD; Michael Kuhn, DVM, MBA; Thayer Hoover, DVM; Deborah Amodie, MS; Daniel Weigel, PhD; Cristy Dice, BS; Terry Moeller BS; Eric Farrand, BS

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Objective: To determine if a Husbandry Educator (HE) could positively affect mortality or culling rates, productivity, and treatment costs in postweaned pigs.

Materials and methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Implication: 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.

Keywords: husbandry, education, nursery pig

RIS citationCite as: 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.

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