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Measuring Variation is a Highly Variable Process...

Understanding variation in a pig production process is a data thing. In order to manage something or improve it, it must be measured. Measuring variation has not been a high priority in the first phase (if you will) of the modern pork industry, at least at the production level. Most record systems and the available technology to-date have focused on measuring and recording group averages. Kill sheets traditionally have provided more information about variation but until relatively recently, most producers have not had access to individual pig outcomes even from the packer (which is the only place in the vast majority of operations, where individual pigs are weighed and evaluated for quality). Typical kill sheets group pigs in ranges without giving individual animal weights and lean percents.

Risk based inspection series, segment 02

This is part two of a multi part risk based inspection series to provide you information on what issues are important to risk based inspection (RBI).

Episode two is about 60 minutes long and features measuring establishment risk control with Don Anderson of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

SwineCast RBI segment 02 . Click to listen or right click to download mp3 file to your computer.

Its Not as Simple as Leveling the Playing Field

Reduction in variation of growing pigs can have significant impacts on both cost of production and on return from the packer. This double impact on both cost and return makes this an especially lucrative subject for both study and the development of strategy leading to standard operating procedure (SOP) creation or amendments. Simply reducing variation is not the goal however since there is no guarantee that this will produce either cost reduction or income increase.

2007 World Pork Expo


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2007 World Pork Expo June 7-9, 2007, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Too Much of a Good Thing...Is Rarely a Good Thing (with apologies to Martha Stewart)

Variation is a natural part of biological systems and a characteristic that cannot be eliminated. However, the wise producer will institute procedures from the boar stud to the final loading of the finished animals which at a minimum, does not increase the natural variation in growth. Variation costs money, lots of it. Since we adopted systems which produce weekly lots of pigs, the pigs flow through the farm in age-segregated groups, often moving two or three times to different locations. When their growth performance begins to spread, the time and the cost associated with their completion and marketing begins to rise.