Mixed models applied to the study of variation of grower-finisher mortality and culling rates of a large swine production system

A. J. Larriestra, D. G. Maes, J. Deen, R. B. Morrison

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13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Large scale production systems for swine are frequently organized in a hierarchical structure. Consequently, important production parameters, such as mortality and culling, can be analyzed at different levels. The major aims of this study were to assess variance components (VC) of mortality and culling rates attributed to sites and to barns within a site, and subsequently to investigate the impact of average entry weight, days on feed (length of the production turn), and season on the magnitude of the VC. Then, data from a large farm with 3 sites were collected during 5 y. In total, 1 720 040 pigs distributed in 1502 all-in/all-out grower-finisher groups were included. Linear mixed models were fitted for mortality and culling rates. The barn was modeled as the residual component (barn-to-barn variations) with production turn and site nested within production turn as random intercept variance components. Barn-to-barn pig group variation was the largest VC for mortality (63.08%), when no predictors were included in the models. Predictors, such as pigs placed on quarters 2 and 3, low average entry weight, and shorter production turn length, were associated together with higher mortality. The explained proportion of variance due to these predictors was about 12.05% and the VC for barn, site, and production turn were 67.6%, 17.6%, and 14.8%, respectively. Barn-to-barn variation was also the largest VC for culling rate (46.2%), but the same predictor mentioned above explained only about 1.4% of the variation. The VC for barn, site, and production turn were 46.8%, 21.3%, and 31.8%, respectively. Since the variability among barns far exceeded the variability among sites, the barn should be used as experimental unit in studies with grower-finisher mortality, culling rate, or both, as outcome variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-31
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Veterinary Research
Volume69
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

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