Next to our people and our pigs, data is our greatest asset.
The concept of data collection is not new, but the specifics — the metrics, the collection practices, the utilization — is rapidly becoming more sophisticated. The times of simple pedigree and a couple phenotype data points are long behind us. We are immersed in a world of endless opportunities with the data we currently have. With the proper bandwidth and resources, the data in turn creates value for our customers – but how?
Let’s talk about scope
The Empire State Building x 286. If I had a quarter for every phenotypic data point we store in our proprietary AcuTrak system, I’d have enough quarters to stack the height of the Empire State Building 286 times! And that’s only the phenotype data — things such as birth and weaning dates, weights, carcass traits, farrowings, litter characteristics, etc. Now imagine, if I added in the DNA data we also possess. DNA data on over 100,000 pigs… I mean, we are talking HUMONGOUS mounds of data that no longer can be opened in an Excel file. All this data is used to garner more accuracy in our breeding decisions through nightly creations of new breeding values for each animal in our system – ensuring the most recent data is always used.
With that much data, it has to be right
Across multi-farm systems, we work to ensure the data is collected at the same points and in the same fashions. Our data entry team maintains a personal relationship with each of our farms to ensure data validity and timeliness. Even so, we are humans working with living animals, mistakes are bound to occur. Contemporary grouping for genetic evaluations and breeding value estimation helps to account for any margin of error that might have gone unseen — environment playing a large role.
Now — putting that information to work
Not only is phenotypic and genotypic information pertinent in our nucleus level populations, but at Acuity it is our firm resolve to ensure we are collecting data on the animals whose performance we are trying to dictate – commercial pigs. Our Commercial Test Herd allows us to capture commercial-setting, performance data on the commercial offspring of Acuity’s genetics. We use this data to put our money where our mouth is, ensuring that our selection and breeding decisions in our genetic herds are creating desired outcomes in our customer’s herds – demonstrating genetics to phenotypic connectedness from the top of the genetic pyramid to the bottom.
As we look to a future that is bright with automated systems, applications that allow real-time reporting, motion cameras, depth photography, thermal photography and others to even further sophisticate and automate the methods by which we capture data on our pigs, we work fervently to ensure our current data is informing our business and on-farm decisions in the right ways. As the future is riddled with the potential of several novel traits, we work to stay atop the research and findings to ensure the data we possess are creating value for our business — and just as importantly, our customers.