Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Author(s): Dr. George R. Foxcroft
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Reference: Proceedings of the 2002 Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium
Country: Canada


The demands of particular pork products will likely result in specific genotypes, managed in specific production systems, becoming the norm in the industry. Some concerns include genetic lag (time from bringing in the genetics and getting them to the production level) and biosecurity issues. Fine-tuning is needed in order to get the breeding herd to maximize the desired gene. Three important issues in replacement gilts include good genes to deposit proper tissues for a good reproductive life, tissue mass required at breeding, and how to manage the variation in growth performance. With a sound heat detection program, gilts can begin cycling at an early age. Gilts that come into estrus later have a compromised reproductive life so should be culled. Keeping these gilts around will bring about costs of non-productive days and reduced breeding herd productivity. Hormones can also be used to reduce breeding herd variability and induce cycling (such as PG 600). They can also be used to treat non-cyclic gilts if the gilts happen to be absolutely needed. In order for breeding targets to be met, there needs to be a set number of cyclic gilts. A feeding program that includes an oral progesterone hormone can be used to bring a group of gilts into a synchronized heat. Body variation of gilts going into the farrowing rooms should be minimized and feeding should be adequate so that they do not deplete too much of their reserves and further compromise future reproduction. Molecular genetics is being investigated to see how much they can improve this area genetically. Management of the first parity sow must be given a high priority. During lactation, a sow cannot go back into estrus. During this time, the reproductive system reverts back to a fertile stage. The uterus returns to a non-pregnant state and the hormone levels in the brain and the pituitary return to normal. Suckling is the primary block of estrus during lactation (it suppresses an important hormone). Loss of body condition in first parities has very negative effects on future fertility. Feed intake needs to be maximized (in late lactation especially) in order to prevent the breakdown of body reserves (aim for less than 10% breakdown). Weaning to estrus interval is farm-specific (depending what genetics they run) and should be taken into account to reduce non-productive days. Treatment with products such as PG 600 can help to bring these sows back into synchronicity. The selection of AI boars is an area that can be improved which can increase the fertility of AI doses. The most fertile boars are required to reach lower sperm numbers and doses needed. Post-cervical insemination can drastically lower the required amount of sperm per dose, and knowing the time of ovulation in a sow can work together to lower the amount of sperm, doses, and increase the number of breedings per boar. The use of improved extenders and the ability to freeze semen will improve breeding efficiency by leaps and bounds.

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