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AHDB Pork Blog

Maintaining pig performance throughout autumn by Angela Cliff

Angela CliffAutumn is just around the corner. Days are getting shorter and temperatures are beginning to drop; these can trigger the onset of various issues for pigs, with negative consequences in terms of reproductive performance.

However, it is possible to manage the situation to minimise the influence of the changing season, and Angela Cliff, Knowledge Exchange Manager at AHDB Pork, has a number of top tips for maintaining pig performance throughout autumn. Below, she highlights the key issues and how to mitigate them.

Day length

Gestating sows and gilts need 16 hours of light a day and, since light intensity is decreasing, it’s important to make sure you are providing sufficient artificial light. Set timers to provide lighting for 16 hours a day, repair broken lights, clean dirty fittings and consider painting walls white to reflect light.


Diurnal temperature fluctuations can disrupt sows as they need to both lose and conserve heat during the course of 24 hours; this can have a knock-on effect on sows’ reproductive cycle and can be a particular problem for those weaned in poorer condition. Check temperatures over a 24-hour period and allocate a daily feed allowance to compensate for anticipated cold spells.


Boars can remain subfertile for at least eight weeks following a hot spell. With the hot summer we have just experienced, this is particularly relevant. If you’re using boars for natural service, consider supplementing with artificial insemination (AI) and if you’re using boars for DIY AI, spend more time examining their semen under a microscope to check quality.

Pregnancy diagnosis

If you have previously had problems with increased abortions and ‘not-in-pigs’ (NIPs) during autumn, it may be worthwhile maintaining physical boar contact for at least 20 minutes a day during the first five weeks of gestation; this can help with the establishment of pregnancy. In addition, check daily for returns with a boar as there is an increased risk of irregular and late returns at this time of year.

So remember, autumn can suddenly arrive. Be aware of the conditions and problems that can occur at this time, prepare for them, and you will be well on the way to maintaining good reproductive performance right through the season.

An example of early abortion

An example of early abortion to keep an eye out for

By AHDB Pork at 4 Sep 2018, 14:43 PM


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