AHDB Pork’s team works with pig producers and pork processors providing tools and information to help their businesses. At the same time, it works with the pork supply chain to promote pork to consumers and develop new export markets. AHDB Pork’s mission is to help English pig production and processing businesses become more competitive and profitable.
“Fine-tuning gilt management is the key to ‘the next level’” was the proclamation made to me by a pig producer recently and, to date, an improvement of up to 1.5 piglets born alive per litter has been achieved in this herd. The unit’s performance was recorded using a computerised system for individual gilt and sow records. It is the interrogation of records that allows producers to identify areas where performance can be improved and, as always, the more information recorded, the more useful that data set becomes.
As the number of gilts is between 20 to 25% of the herd at any one time, their contribution to the overall herd performance is very influential. In this case, when analysing age of service and subsequent performance, it became apparent that gilts served over 250 days did not perform as well as younger gilts.
How gilts were fed during the critical periods was reviewed so that, pre service, gilts are now flushed to maximise ovulation rate and, post service, the producer is avoiding over-feeding, to assist with implantation.
So, the moral of this particular (true) story is: 1. Keep individual sow and gilt records and make time to interrogate the data 2. Identify areas that are underperforming 3. Take advice and decide on actions to improve situation 4. Continue monitoring and evaluating.
On any farm, gilt management is about not cutting corners; the time you invest at this crucial stage will pay dividends in the long-term performance of your herd. BPEX is continuing to work with producers on gilt management as part of the Breed+3 programme to improve breeding herd performance. Click here for more information in our gilt management pack.