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Accurate heat detection is the key to successful AS. Oestrous detection needs to be carried out slowly and methodically each and every day. Twice daily oestrous detection is prffferabie.. as it does identify the onset of oestrous more accurately though on outdoor systems this it not always practical. To achieve easier detection, boar contact should only toe provided when the-stock ' person is present.

Essential steps for good oestrous detection:

    1. Learn to recognise signs of proestrus e.g. swollen vulva, restlessness, looking for the boar, sows riding each other (see Appendix 2)
    2. Keep good records- be observant for signs of oestrus
    3. Develop a "bond" with the animals - patient and calm approach B Check for oestrus daily using a boar. Check twice per day where possible, allowing 7 hours minimum between checks
    4. Boars must be interested and "chatty". Allow them a natural service occasionally
    5. Boar presence allowing nose-to-nose contact between boar and sow together with stimulation by the stockperson
    6. Develop a system/routine for each new service week (see centre spread flow chart)
    7. Direct boar contact at weaning and for the first three days after will quieten sow group and stimulate oestrus - rotating boars will help this process
    8. Segregation/removal of boar presence at the end of day 3 Will heighten sows response to the boar when oestrous detection starts on day 4 onwards. Boar introduction (carried out in the presence of thestockperson) causes oxytocin release by the sow.
    9. Use the back pressure test at the same time as the renewed boar presence, together with flank pressure to determine start of standing oestrus
    10. Be patient, allow time for a proper response by the sow B A specialist detection/insemination pen is essential which allows a maximum of two sows at a time to be brought from the weaning pen to the boar for oestrous detection
    11. Do not take the boar to the sows - take the sows to the boar Record response - develop a coloured marking system for future reference
    12. Check for returns daily - observe any restless sows riding other sows
    13. Take boar into possible return pen daily around return date 18-24 days following service. Allow a minimum of five minutes for the boar to scan the sows with the stock-person present.
All oestrous identification procedures for sows apply equally to gilts. On many units, gilts are the forgotten part of the herd. Remember they are critical to both the short and long-term success of the herd, as they not only help hit the current service target but are also the next generation of sows. In addition remember:
    1. Gilts will cycle at any time over a 21 -day period (even weekends). Commence boar stimulation at least 21 days before the required date for service
    2. Take a boar daily to the gilt pool and allow him to mix with the gilts under stockperson supervision for a minimum of 10 minutes
    3. Record and mark any gilt showing signs of standing oestrus. This will aid selection of available gilts for service 21 days following and highlight gilts not cycling.

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