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Welcome to Benchmark 2014

At the core, when you get right down to it, decisions are what drive data acquisition and management. Specifically, the way in which interpreting data informs our decisions. So then, the most practical purpose of collecting, sorting and analyzing mountains of data is to aid in decision-making. We pore over statistics and charts and graphs that demonstrate an overall picture of what has happened in the past. And, we engage in this reflection on yesterday’s events – looking for trends, for outliers, for the needle in the haystack – because what we learn can sharpen our decisions moving forward. Efficiency, cost effectiveness, return on investment; all of these factors rely on information gathered from day-to-day operations. The daily monitoring then translates into weeks, months and years, allowing for a diversity in data that comprises not only small segments, but can demonstrate a big picture performance evaluation from which to anticipate changes and make sound decisions.

In looking at data, it’s possible to see how thinking in the short-term can have a ripple effect of lasting impact. Did a decision to cull a certain sow leave you with a gap in production? Has a dietary mixture been shown to be sub-optimal in terms of animal health and profitability? Those type of questions bring us to our theme for this edition of Benchmark: “Long-Term Impact of Short-Term Thinking.” As challenges arise (e.g., PEDv, biosecurity issues, housing concerns), any number of decisions we make today – decisions that seem insignificant – can influence future outcomes and have far-reaching implications. Think of benchmarking data, and the articles in this issue of Benchmark, as reminders of how thinking in terms of tomorrow can help you make better decisions today. As always, we would like to offer a sincere thanks to our contributors, advisors, advertisers and everyone who makes Benchmark an invaluable resource.

View past decisions with fresh eyes

Lee Whittington

With positive margins predicted for the next two years, it’s time to revisit some of those short-term decisions made in haste to cut costs over the past few years. We are going to take a walk through the barn with a new, fresh set of eyes. Our eyes and habits are focused, blinded to what has become a daily routine of accepting we are in ‘survival mode’ which translates into...

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What will be the long term effects of pedv after exposure?

Thomas G. Gillespie

As the Spring weather tries to break through on a winter that doesn’t seem to stop, many producers are still apprehensive about Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). About a year ago, PEDv became active in the...

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Novel vaccines and improvement in pig production

Joel Harris

In the year since the first confirmed cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus occurred in North America, the U.S. swine industry has learned an unprecedented amount of information about the disease in a relatively short amount of time. However, we are far from being able to...

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Practical application and interpretation of benchmarking data, a pigchamp survey

Numbers are everywhere in pork production. From the simplest sow cards to custom, user-defined reports generated in PigCHAMP, collecting, managing and scrutinizing data related to your operation can provide a great deal of insight. Whether you have underperforming sows or high cull rates, information is vital to maximizing efficiency and ensuring a correction can be made in problem areas....

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Managing sows for optimum retention

By Zach Rambo, Dr. Jerry Torrison, Mark E. Wilson

Sow removal and replacement is a necessary part of optimizing herd performance. It is a balance between keeping the herd young enough, while maintaining a significant number of sows between parities three and five in the system. Sow longevity is a complex phenomenon, influenced by many factors, including genetics, gilt and sow price, nutritional programs, gilt development, reproductive performance and health status...

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2013 benchmark summary - usa

By Susan Olson

It is difficult to define a “typical” sow herd. Size differs. Ownership differs. Herd objectives differ. Some are contracted to sell weaned piglets while others produce piglets to be finished within their own facilities or flow in a multi-sourced system...

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Total rewards impact employee recruitment and retention

By Bonnie Johnson

It is difficult to define a “typical” sow herd. Size differs. Ownership differs. Herd objectives differ. Some are contracted to sell weaned piglets while others produce piglets to be finished within their own facilities or flow in a multi-sourced system...

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The influence of pigchamp in swine production in latin countries

By Dr. Martha A. Acosta

Editor’s note: BENCHMARK editors wanted to get the perspective of someone who has applied long-term visionary thinking to opportunities in swine production and experienced the impact of that thinking over a long period of time....

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Benchmarks for the evaluation of single fixed-time artificial insemination

By Charlie Francisco
Editor’s note: Sometimes a “good idea” takes time to fine-tune and get right. Single fixed-time artificial insemination (AI) is not new to animal agriculture. Animal health companies began to design pharmaceuticals to facilitate timed artificial insemination for the dairy...
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Marketing decisions are key in good and bad years!

By Maurizio Agostino

The record feed prices of the last couple years generated huge financial losses for hog producers. Does anyone remember the 2012 drought that caused feed prices to soar by as much as $65/head unless you grew your own corn to feed your hogs? Poor feed booking decisions in late 2011 and early 2012 could have cost a hog producer a bundle of money...

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Decision making and the grow-finish operation, a pigchamp survey

Growing and finishing pigs carries with it a unique position; one in which factors occurring both upstream (those at the reproductive level) and downstream (those closer to market/packing) can have a significant impact on an operation. The relationship is, however, multi-layered, as the decisions made at the grow-finish level can also influence the choices on either side of the production chain...

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Do we dare to demand connected hog systems?

By Curtiss Littlejohn

One of the many challenges facing pork producers is the ever-increasing amount of information that is being generated and made available for decision-making inside and outside of the operation. BENCHMARK editors sat down with Curtiss Littlejohn, long-time pork...

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