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ILVO Press Release - Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Optimal delivery of meat pigs

On 19 December Frederik Leen defended his doctoral thesis entitled Pig delivery weight optimization: revitalizing an old paradigm? Promotors of the PhD were Prof. Dr. Ludwig Lauwers (ILVO-Ghent University), and Dr. Ir. Jef Van Meensel and Dr. Sam Millet of ILVO.

Optimal delivery of meat pigs: “To optimize profits for pig farmers, they should pay close attention to the desired weight range of a pig carcass at the slaughterhouse,” says researcher Frederik Leen at the end of his doctoral study on the optimal slaughter weight. The slaughterhouse will pay more for carcasses whose weight falls within a specific range. If the pig farmer can figure out a way to deliver the faster-growing pigs to the slaughterhouse sooner than the lighter pigs, the price per pig will be higher. But selecting pigs more than twice out of the pens is not recommended, because the higher price does not compensate for the extra work required. It may therefore be more profitable to deliver the (last) lightweight pigs before they reach the slaughterhouse’s minimum optimal weight, because their slow growth would delay the production cycle for too long.


To optimize the slaughter weight in the short term, it is necessary to estimate the growth and feed consumption during the production round. This requires extra labor and investment in technology (i.e., purchase of a scale). Once the majority of the pigs are in the “safe weight range”, profit losses are limited. Therefore, farmers should look at the additional advantages of investing in montoring and automation technology. Better monitoring of various technical values can support the farmer to make different management choices, such as opting for a certain type of sire or sow line, or optimizing the feeding strategy in function of the genetics. The above measures can improve the gross income more than moving along a flat optimization plateau by precisely optimizing the slaughter weight.


Greet Riebbels, ILVO Communication:, 32 486 26 00 14
Frederik Leen, PhD,, 32 9 272 23 82
Sarah De Smet, coordinator “Pig Information Window”,, 32 9 272 26 67