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Early Interventions Increase Full-Market-Value Hogs

Research shows early-life interventions are key to increasing the number of full-market-value hogs.

Industry-wide, litter size has increased, however by market, hog producers lose more than 30 percent of their full-market-value hogs.

“Industry-wide we have been working to fix the issue of mortality and growth inconsistency at the wrong stage. We need to focus on the root of the issue,” says Dr. Russell Fent, Director of the Swine Technical Group at Ralco.

During the March 25, 2020 Ralco webinar presented by National Hog Farmer, Fent will discuss management strategies proven to increase full value at market hog numbers.

Because the highest mortality occurs during the first three weeks of life, Fent says producers need to focus interventions during that period of time. “The greatest opportunity to increase full-market-value hogs is to intervene during lactation and nursery,” he says.

To increase full-market-value hogs, producers need to intervene early to bolster survivability and body weight. “For years, our industry has focused on ways to catch lightweight pigs up to their littermates in the finishing barn. By waiting until their last 30 days of life, we miss opportunities. Even the diets of gestating sows can have an impact on pig consistency and long-term performance.”

In fact, University of Minnesota research shows interventions prior to birth can increase survivability. The data indicates supplementing sows’ feed with plant-based essential oil blends during pregnancy and lactation improves colostrum quality, litter health and weight gain. “Blood samples pre- and post-suckling show increased health benefits transfer to the baby pigs day one and the overall growth rate increased,” Fent says.

Identify opportunity pigs

By properly identifying opportunity pigs and intervening during the first three weeks of life, producers can reduce death rates by 20 percent and increase litter uniformity. Data shows value in identifying small, at-risk pigs within 48-hours of birth and intervening.

“Not only can we keep them alive, but by identifying opportunity pigs and managing them properly, we find by weaning they have caught up to their littermates,” says Fent of three weeks of TLC. Opportunity pigs, Fent explains, are those that are smaller than the majority of their littermates, yet viable.

Additional research shows once opportunity pigs are caught up, their gains remain consistent with their littermates.

Don’t miss the March 25th webinar To learn more about how early-life interventions can increase full-market-value hog numbers, tune in for the March 25 Ralco National Hog Farmer webinar: Ralco Webinar Registration Link.

About Ralco Ralco is a third-generation family-owned multinational company with distribution in more than 40 countries. Ralco is a leading global supplier of natural solutions to maximize nutrition conversion in both plants and animals. Learn more at


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