Litter-Rearing Environment and First Boar Exposure May Affect Sow Productivity
Can the litter size a gilt was raised in affect her lifetime productivity as a sow? And, does age at first boar exposure limit her potential parities? These were questions addressed in a Pork Checkoff-funded study led by Dr. William Flowers at North Carolina State University.
At the end of six parities, the research showed that significantly more sows that were raised in small litters (less than 7 piglets) were still in production compared with those raised in large litters (greater than10 piglets), regardless of age of puberty induction. Similarly, regardless of the size of the litter in which they nursed, significantly more sows exposed to boars at 140 days of age remained in the herd after six parities compared with their counterparts given boar exposure at 170 days of age. Collectively, the total number of pigs produced through 6 parities per gilt bred in each management system was determined and these estimates are as follows:
- Small neonatal litter + Boar exposure @ 140 days = 43.2 pigs
- Small neonatal litter + Boar exposure @ 170 days = 29.8 pigs
- Large neonatal litter + Boar exposure @ 140 days = 29.7 pigs
- Large neonatal litter + Boar exposure @ 170 days = 21.9 pigs
“These findings represent changes commercial producers can make in their herds today that can increase profitability. By strategic cross-fostering and/or earlier puberty stimulation, there is potential for increased sow lifetime productivity,” said Mark Knauer, Pork Checkoff’s Director of Animal Science.
For more information on this project please contact Mark Knauer, MKnauer@pork.org.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!