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Author(s): Clowes, Emma, Ph.D.
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Reference: Manitoba Pork Council Research News
Country: Canada

Summary:

Compared to older sows, first-litter sows have a smaller appetite and lose more weight and backfat in lactation, have a longer (+1 to 2 days) wean-to-first service interval, and are more likely to return later(8 to 12 days) post-weaning which results in smaller litters. Compared to the progeny of older sows first-litter sow progeny may be smaller at birth, grow more slowly in lactation, are lighter at weaning and can take longer to reach market weight. Also first-litter sows do not confer the same degree of immune competence to their progeny through colostrum as older sows, thereby reducing the progeny’s health status. Dr. Camille Moore, a private swine medicine and production consultant from St-Césaire Quebec, developed a novel breeding herd management program that segregates first-litter sows and their progeny from the rest of the herd. This program is being tested in a 10,000-sow herd in
Farnham, Quebec (R. Robitaille Inc.) and, so far, has increased weaning weight and subsequent litter size as well as reducing wean-to-first-service interval. Most established herds cannot completely change their management strategy, but they may benefit by introducing parts of Dr. Moore’s segregation program. This program designates easily accessible areas in the barn for first-litter and ‘thin’ sows, to provide these disadvantaged animals with specialized feeding and management programs. Top-dressing the diet of disadvantaged sows with soybean meal (0.3 kg minimum) for the first 12 days or the entire lactation if specific lactation diets are not fed and raising the progeny of first-litter sows in separate rooms or pens within a barn.

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