Improving Sow Longevity May Improve Productivity

US - A professor with the University of Minnesota says that by increasing the longevity of the sow, pork producers have an opportunity to improve productivity and profitability, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 10 February 2015
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Sow Longevity in the Herd will be discussed as part of the 2015 Manitoba Swine Seminar slated for today and tomorrow in Winnipeg.

Dr John Deen, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, says the sow lasts on average two to two and a half parities so scientists are looking at sow longevity as an opportunity to improve productivity and possibly the welfare of the sows.

Dr John Deen - University of Minnesota:

Normally the reproductive lifecycle of the sow means that she increases in productivity and quality of the litter until about third parity and then it goes down with less consistency of the piglets and we see it decrease to the level at the sixth or seventh parity where the sow normally should be removed.

There's two main implications.

The first is that there are real economic costs to the herd owner of not fully utilizing the sow's potential capability of producing six or seven litters and thus there are extra costs involved in replacing that sow.

Second and what we argue is even a more major cost is the cost associated with removing that sow due to low productivity.

The fact that it takes awhile to identify sows in the herd that are at unacceptable levels of productivity means that we're lowering the overall herd's capability to produce pigs and that is actually the bigger cost in most of our herds.

Dr Deen says conditions such as lameness and other injuries are associated with lower longevity and need to be monitored not only on the basis of effects upon bottom line but also effects upon the sows themselves.

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