Today we are going to bediscussing about the management practices of gilts and sows, including managingInsemination and managing Estrus.
A gilt is a young female pigand a sow is a reproductively active female pig.
We are going to talk aboutthem in two categories:
1. Grandparent stock Sows (GP)
2. Parent stock Sows (PS)
Grandparent stock sows arepurebreds used in crossbreeding programs while Parent stock sows produce pigsfor growing for pork. Therefore, parent stock sows are usually got after crossbreedingGP sows.
The gilts and sows which arecommonly used in commercial production of fattening pigs are First Generationgilts of Landrace and Yorkshire. These are highly prolific due to their high fertilitylevels and with enviable mothering ability.
Every breeder has his ownchoices depending on customer preferences but the globally known breeds thatmust constitute a potential hybrid for use as parent stock are Landrace andYorkshire.
Commonly, purebreds are ownedby breeders and their task is to crossbreed them and then select the mostexcellent individuals basing on standard criteria for sale to Pork producers.
Due to the need for study andselecting highly performing individuals, gilts are best bought at six months ofage.
1. The gilt has a full recordof its genetic performance and abilities regarding feed conversion, weight gainand disease resistance.
2. The gilt is at an age whenfatteners are sold therefore must be of a minimum weight which is about 100kilograms. Here you can confirm the possibility of your fatteners reachingminimum slaughter weight at six months.
3. The record on Productioncosts from birth to six months is available so easy computation and comparingprofitability before choosing to purchase the pig.
4. The pig is grown thereforecan’t be so much affected by stress during transportation, change of feed, managementand climate.
This makes breeding pigs expensive and breeding a sophisticated job that should be performed by only those with adequate knowledge about the market, its genetic requirements and the art & science of breeding pigs.
In most parts of the country, breeding as an activity has many issues and actually some countries still lack typical breeders. This is why you see many importations of breeding pigs going on in the country.
Waysof Managing the Estrus
Well managed gilts are inpuberty at 6 Months. This is when their first heat period is noticed. However,this can take beyond 6 months in poorly managed herds.
It takes you between 7.5 to 8Months to achieve the above, therefore on average your gilts can only beinseminated at 8 months of age.
At six months, these giltsweigh about 100 kilograms or more. Depending on the source of your parentstock, the least recommended weight for inseminating a pig is 130 kilograms.
This can go to as high as 150kilograms with some commercial breeds. Heavy gilts have higher chances offarrowing a larger and healthier litter.
Waysof Managing Insemination
Choosing a type ofinsemination is very important to farm profitability. The available options toa farmer don’t go beyond natural and artificial insemination.
Some experts advise a ratio ofone boar to 10 sows, I personally don’t agree with this because if thesegilts/sows are of the same age, there is a possibility of coming into heat at arelatively similar time.
Natural insemination requireskeeping of Boar (s) on farm. Realistically, for any given sow, a boar is activeonly between 2 to 2.5 times annually. During this period, the boar will consumeyour food, occupy space, encroach on farm labor, security and health managementfor 366 days.
Also, Boars are limited in thenumber of inseminations that can be made in a week to about 3 times.
Therefore, in a situationwhere many gilts/sows come on heat, the farmer will have to lose the productivetime and serve at such a time when the boar has not been at work. Or, thefarmer will have to keep many Boars if keeping many gilts/sows.
Thou, Artificial Inseminationis just improving in some part of the countries in the world but is at a stagewhere a serious commercial producer can make use of it efficiently. ArtificialInsemination will enable you inseminate many sows at a go with no difficulty,reduce chances of disease transmission and give you liberty to choose favoritesire breed.
Also, even when gilts boughtare of spaced age, they will at a given time be ready for insemination atalmost the same time. In situations where the libido of the boar is low orhaving some health difficulties, the farmer will have to lose by again jumpingthe conceptive time.
And when a boar is overused,chances of a smaller litter are inevitable. Due to the higher costs ofmaintaining a boar, some producers choose to hire Boars from other farmers oruse village Boars, “Seduume wekyalo”.
This has aided transmission ofdangerous reproductive diseases such as Parvovirosis, also African Swine Feverwhich has ability to erode the whole farm in just days.
The best paternal breeds are Duroc, Hampshire and a cross of Duroc and Pietrain. These are selected due to their efficient muscling, carcass quality and early growing. Therefore, if Duroc (DD) is used your pigs for slaughter will be a mixture of Landrace, Yorkshire and Duroc (LYD).
Depending on the size of yourfarm, you may choose to keep a boar to help during heat detection and naturalsynchronization of gilts and sows.
Please don’t reproduceslaughter pigs because the offspring will be of reduced performance ability.