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Employee training improves piglet-survival rates

In an unusual research study, an employee-training program — Day One Pig Care via the Pork Avenue Training Portal (PATP) — focused on online training followed by tracked, in-barn verification experiences, helped a start-up farm achieve top piglet-survival rates, according to Sarah Probst Miller, DVM, AgCreate Solutions, Inc.1

The special project was designed to measure “the impact of trained and untrained personnel on product implementation and subsequent pig health,” Miller said at the 2017 American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ annual meeting.

The study was conducted at a hog farm (Farm A) expanding with a start-up facility (Farm B).

High pig-survival rates sought

Production results from Farm B were measured and benchmarked by Swine Management Services (SMS), Fremont, Neb., against its database of 986 farms.

The goal for Farm B was to be in the top 10% of farms for piglet survival in the first year of operation, as compared to SMS’s database. The farm also wanted to rank in the top 10% of farms in pigs per sow per year.

New employees were trained using eight of the PATP Day 1 Pig Care online lessons at Farm A prior to moving into the new facilities at Farm B. They learned how to monitor farrowing sows, warm baby pigs, split-suckle qualifying litters, conduct strategic minimal fostering and identify and treat sick piglets through farrowing. Products used included iron, a drying agent; warming boxes; split-suckle boxes; and treatment for sows and piglets as prescribed by the farm veterinarian. Each lesson was followed with an in-barn verification experience with the learner’s designated mentor or manager.

During training, the new employees were mentored on the tasks, and the completion of PATP lessons were monitored by SMS and on-farm supervisors. When moved to the new facility, Farm B employees were fully trained and verified on Farm A.

Training overachieved goals

The results showed Farm B hit production goals. The farm achieved a 96% ranking in the SMS database with only 40 farms ranked above it. The farm also was in the top 10% for piglet survival at 89.2% survivability. The average piglet survival of the SMS top 10% was 82.5%, and the entire system averaged 78.8% survivability. In the last 13 weeks, the farm posted 30.16 pigs weaned per mated female per year, giving it a 94% ranking in the SMS system.

“It takes people to make pork and impact healthy swine in our industry,” Miller said, adding that educational programs designed to train employees can pay off on the bottom line.

“An excellent training program like PATP is one of many factors that influence a strong start up,” Miller said. Engaged and experienced managers, hands-on owners, committed veterinarians and production consultants also are important for guiding a strong implementation program.

For more information on the veterinarian’s series of Day One Pig Care webinars, contact Miller.

More information on Day One Pig Care is also available here.




1Miller SP, Ketchem R. The impact of trained and untrained personnel on product implementation and subsequent pig health. 48th American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ Annual Meeting. 2017;165-166.


Posted on August 14, 2018

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It’s not unrealistic to say that if you checked the nasal cavities or tonsils of any group of pigs, you would find Strep suis. While the strain and impact can vary widely, this commensal bacterium is on virtually every hog farm.

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