15 November 1996

Dont service gilts too soon

PIG producers should ensure gilts are mature enough before first service, and should adjust feed regimes to avoid loss of condition after first farrowing.

So warns Signet consultant Malcolm Black. "Gilt supply has been tight over the last few months, and although prices are starting to ease back, gilt replacements are costly if they fail to produce for their potential reproductive life."

Gilts must be carrying sufficient fat cover before the first mating, and should then be fed adequately, but not over-fed, he warns.

"Over-feeding can lead to lack of appetite in the farrowing house, forcing gilts to milk off their backs, losing condition. That can mean they are too thin at weaning to re-breed.

"If gilts are in with larger sows, they may be bullied, which adds to concerns. The aim should be to maintain body condition throughout, and avoid see-saw gains and losses."