Two Peas in a Pod---They Ain't"

So we are talking about not adding to the fundamental problems which biological production systems deal out just because of their nature. Some of those problems include seasonality, the complexity of growth mechanisms as a key variance enhancer (compared to non-biological production—like automobile manufacture etc.) and the fixed periods of production which cannot be speeded up with an extra shift (like gestation). I’m contending that the next major movement forward in competitiveness is the producer’s ability to manage (certainly never eliminate!) variation more effectively. There is lots of money on that table.

I was speaking to my favorite Theriogenologist about this the other day; about how and when variation begins in the life of the pig. As you might suspect, it begins before you ever observe it. Each ovum produced by the sow has a different quality and ability to support and launch life when it is fertilized. The really poor ones lead to reproductive failure at some point but even the ones that get fertilized and result in the successful delivery of a live pig have different capacities which produce variable results.

Add to that, the common practice of mixing semen from two or more boars to ensure a viable dose and variation is off and running before you ever see the piglet. Even though those pigs all came from the same mother, it is likely that the sire is not the same. In addition, the uterus in the pig has diffuse attachment sites where the fertilized egg can land and establish a pregnancy. This means that pigs can actually crowd up against one another in the uterus rather than being equally spaced. This begins the competitive process for nourishment that we see continuing after farrowing as the biggest pigs compete for the best teats. Inside the uterus, a pig can get squeezed between two larger adjacent pigs and fall behind right off the bat. So the point is, before you ever see the piglet, nature is setting them up for a shotgun pattern of growth. Add to that at your financial peril.