Seasonal infertility in UK pig production
Research partners: University of Leeds
Sponsors: AHDB Pork
Aims and objectives
To investigate previously unidentified relationships between meteorological conditions and pig reproductive performance during periods of seasonal infertility in the UK.
- Reduced farrowing rates were the major manifestation of seasonality in sows
- High temperatures and long days were associated with poor performance
- Seasonal effects on litter size were less apparent when assessed at herd level
- Individual sows were found to be more or less susceptible to reductions from summer services, suggesting a genetic predisposition to seasonal infertility
- Sow skin temperatures and respiration rates increased with external temperature humidity indices; these increases occurred at a lower threshold following cold conditions
- It appears that UK sows become acclimatised to cold weather and are therefore more susceptible to heat stress when it becomes warmer
- Boar semen quality was reduced over the summer and early autumn months, with a higher proportion of abnormalities and lower sperm concentration
- Individual boar and management parameters had a larger effect on semen quality than meteorological conditions.