Update on Hermitage R&D Programmes:
Hermitage’s Research and Development programme for the next two years commenced in January 2015 under the supervision of Dr Patrick Varley and the Hermitage team. The programme will utilise the expertise of Universities and Research Institutes. Work will be undertaken at the excellent facilities developed on the Hermitage Nucleus units. There are 4 projects which focus on fundamental areas that are of key economic benefit to our customers.
Identifying Genetics with Maximum Milking Ability for increased weaning weight – targeting 105kg at weaning.
Heavier Pigs at Weaning Result In:
- Improved Daily Live Weight Gain
- Less Specialised Diets are required at weaning
- Reduced Medication Costs
- Less Supplementary Heat
- Less Labour
At Hermitage we have investigated the financial implication of having heavier pigs at weaning. Over the last 18 months 34,481 pigs have been batched weighed at weaning:
- 17074 pigs had an average weaning weight of 6.2kg
- 17407 pigs had an average weaning weight of 7.9kg
Pigs were fed on a spot mix system until the end of the 2nd stage and a representative sample of 1689 pigs (apx 840 per weaning weight category) were then followed through to slaughter from undisturbed pens on a probe wet mix feeding system.
When Hermitage compared the two batches of weaned pigs at our nucleus farm, we found that piglets with a 1kg advantage at weaning equated to a 5.3kg advantage at sale. When the relevant variable costs were deducted this resulted in a difference of €3.09 per pig.
MLI 2 – Litter Weight at Weaning:
Realising the significance on the above result Hermitage developed an MLI index with a high emphasis on litter weight at weaning – see figure 2. Litter weight at weaning is a means of selecting for high milk yield (a heritable trait) and since January 2014 Hermitage Breeding Units have weighed 1700 Landrace and Large White litters at weaning to select Dam Line boars for AI with high breeding value for milking ability. Some farms want to focus on improving litter size as a first priority – see figure 1, while other farms are now interested in weaning weight of the litter as they are satisfied with born alive. Hermitage can facilitate this option for its customers by using the MLI index with a focus on litter weaning weight.