Research into the Impacts of Time of Mixing on Sow Productivity

CANADA - Researchers working on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc are attempting to determine the optimum timing for mixing pregnant sows into groups, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 18 December 2014
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As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists are assessing the effect on productivity of mixing pregnant sows into groups.

Dr Yoland Seddon, a post doctoral fellow in swine ethology and welfare with the Prairie Swine Centre explains scientists are comparing three mixing strategies, mixing post insemination, after confirmation of pregnancy and post weaning.

Assessing levels of aggression after mixing, comparing lameness before and after mixing and recording conception and farrowing rates.

Dr Yoland Seddon-Prairie Swine Centre:

This will really tell us whether any of these mixing treatments were able to influence the productive outcome of the sows.

For instance was the pre or post insemination mixing causing a decrease in farrowing rate or a decrease in numbers of piglets born alive.

What is also interesting is that we're looking for the sows that are mixed post weaning as to whether the ability for them to show estrus behavior in a group is having a positive effect because there is some evidence out there to suggest that actually being in a social group when estrus expression is taking place, the animals are able to generate and stimulate estrus in each other and so you might have a more precisely timed estrus within the group.

Also a little bit of stress, if it's not excessive it has actually been shown to bring on a heat episode in sows quicker so if that mixing stress generates a little bit of stress but not too much then it could actually work in favor of producers and then the mixing stress is already out of the way so that when the sows are pregnant there is no other stress that they are influenced by.

Dr Seddon says indications are there seems to be little difference in each of the mixing strategies if managed correctly.

She says most systems seem to work if they're well managed.

Charlotte Rowney

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