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Kate Mellor

KE Senior Manager

AHDB Pork KE

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Gilt Watch

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AHDB Pork has brought together more than 30 independent producers from both indoor and outdoor units to take part in Gilt Watch.

undefinedAcross the industry, breeding herds need to retain more young sows in the herd if they are to make significant gains in physical and financial performance. 

It typically costs around £250 to rear each gilt, so putting the groundwork in to make sure they get past their first or second parity and reach their full lifetime potential is vital to get a return on that investment. 

A few simple steps are often all that are needed to achieve great gains but, first, we need to understand why young sows are failing in the first place. 

Starting in January 2018, the Gilt Watch group of producers has set about monitoring gilt performance. They will be working with each other, AHDB Pork and pig production consultant Stephen Hall to analyse the data and work out where improvements can be made.

Producers taking part will be: 

  • Monitoring individual performance from cohorts of gilts
    • Reasons for culling
    • Empty days
    • Litter size at first and second parities
  • Implementing changes to improve performance
  • Meeting twice a year to review progress, over a two-year period
  • Sharing experience with the wider industry and benefiting from other producers’ ideas.

Our targets as an industry are to: 

  • Retain 80 per cent or more gilts from the original gilt intake, to the point of a successful PD at their third gestation
  • Maintain good fertility and minimise empty days
  • Farrow with no evidence/minimal evidence of a ‘second litter drop’. 

There is more information on gilt management in the Action for Productivity factsheets and gilt event presentations here. Or producers can get in touch with their knowledge exchange manager for a chat.

Gilt Watch is an AHDB Farm Excellence initiative which uses technical events and farmer-to-farmer learning to accelerate the uptake of knowledge, and provides a framework for farmers to explore the potential impact that adopting best practice can have on their business.