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Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by admin on May 12, 2017

There can be a number of challenges to productivity on the sow farm including: labour, nutrition, genetics, health, facilities, environment, gilt management, etc. The biggest factor affecting productivity is the number of pigs weaned.  The number of sows farrowing has the biggest impact on the number of pigs weaned. The number of sows farrowing is in turn impacted the most by the number of gilts farrowing and management of the Gilt Developer Unit (GDU).  How can pre-weaning survival be enhanced and what factors influence weaning weight variation of pigs?

Gilts need ad lib feeding from 90 days of age to puberty to have proper mammary development. Also, nutrition in the last third of gestation affects mammary development. A lean gilt at farrowing will produce an average of 28% more milk per day than a fat gilt.

As litter size has increased there are more challenges for piglet survivability. There are more light weight pigs born, resulting in more of a spread in weaning weights. Producers and farrowing room staff can adopt a number of practices such as split suckling and cross fostering to improve piglet survivability and weaning weights. Producers can train staff so that sows are properly supervised at farrowing and piglets are properly cared for. Sharing information with staff will help keep them motivated and focused. Improvement in biosecurity are helping producers keep major diseases out.

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