Performance standards

This is a guide to a range of pig herd performance figures that can be used to assist in preparing budgets and setting targets to improve certain areas of pig production. A pig's, and therefore the herd's, performance is dependent on genetics, the environment, feed, health, housing and good piggery management.

Using the standards

Use the performance standards individually, not as a group under one column. For example, pre-weaning mortality of 8% is considered a good result but in practice will be easier to achieve in small litters of large piglets than in large litters of smaller-sized piglets. Similarly, average daily gain is affected by the sale weight.

The herd's production system and required return for input will influence whether the performance is acceptable or not, it may be met by the 'fair' figures in this guide.

Table 1. Pig herd average performance
StandardFairGood Very good
Breeding herd
Number of pigs born alive per litter 9.0 10.5 11.0
Number of pigs stillborn per litter 0.8 0.6 0.5
Pre-weaning mortality % 13 11 8
Farrowing rate % 82 87 89
Litters per sow each year (farrowing index) 2.1 2.2 2.3
Weight for age
Birth (kg) 1.2 1.4 1.45
28 days (kg) 6.7 7.7 8.0
Grower herd
Mortality % (wean to bacon) 7 5 3
Feed conversion ratio (FCR) - dressed weight 3.6 3.3 2.8
Average daily gain from birth to bacon (dressed weight grams a day) 440 490 560
Whole herd
Pigs reared per sow each year 18 20 22
FCR - dressed weight 4.5 4.0 3.8
Table 2. Weight for age guide
Type of pig Age range (weeks) Liveweight (kg) Dressed weight (kg HSCW)
Porker 14-20 45-80 35-60
Baconer 18-25 80-120 60-100

Example growth curves (weight for age) for three herds.

  • Pre-weaning mortality % = ((number born alive - number weaned) x 100) ÷ number born alive
  • Farrowing rate: the percentage of sows which farrow to a given number of matings.
  • Litters per sow a year = ((total litters farrowed in a time period ÷ average number of sows over the same time period) x 12) ÷ number of months
  • When calculating 'average number of sows', every sow in the herd should be included, including any gilts mated and gilts running with a boar, taking the average total over the period.
  • FCR: kilograms of feed required to produce 1 kg of pig meat. Expressed in terms of dressed weight or liveweight and measured over a given period of time. May be expressed for growers only (or a section of the grower herd) or over the whole herd of breeders and growers. Feed efficiency decreases as age increases.
  • Dressed weight (hot standard carcass weight (HSCW) as defined by AUS-MEAT) = liveweight x killing-out percentage.
  • Dressing percentage (killing-out percentage) = (carcass weight ÷ liveweight) x 100. Normally, the heavier the pig, the better the killing-out percentage is, which is usually 72 to 80%.

All standards are expressed as herd averages