Over half the national pig herd are accounted for through the Teagasc e-profit monitor, but this number needs to increase significantly according to Teagasc.

Figures presented at the Teagasc Pig Conference by Ciaran Carroll show that this national database is the source of benchmarking targets such as average, top 25% and top 10% of herds.

He said that pig herds participating in the e-Profit Monitor perform significantly better than non-participating herds and increased participation in the e-Profit Monitor is essential for the long-term viability of farms.

A key target, he and other presenters said, for Irish pig producers is to increase the number of pigs per sow to 27 per year and a feed conversion from weaning to sale of 2.4 by 2019.

These are reasonable targets, he said, and could result in a 6c/kg reduction in feed costs per kg DW.

Jannes Doppenberg, a Dutch-based researcher is from Schorhorst Feed Research, told the conference that the Dutch are looking at reducing the number of piglets born with a higher birth weight, so more might make it through to the weanling period.

He also said that to use alternative ingredients effectively and economically in practical swine formulations, the quality of feedstuff must be monitored carefully and accurate animal specific feedstuff tables must be used for key nutrients, in conjunction with precise nutrient recommendations.