Farmer Focus: Herd performance best for some years

The performance of the herd is getting close to the best we have achieved for several years.

With the born-alive figure now more than 14 a litter and weaning more than 12 a litter, all our disease issues in the breeding herd over the past two years appear to be over.

There are several minor issues we still need to address in the farrowing area to fine-tune the management of the piglet in the first few hours after birth, but we will tackle these when we are back to full staff levels.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

Inconsistent conception 

Since we installed the sow service stalls our conception rate has improved, but recently this has slipped and as yet we are not sure why.

We have looked at storage of the semen upon and after arrival, which is something that hasn’t altered.

The semen fridges are both automatically controlled and turn the semen on a regular basis to prevent settling out.

The supply company has tracked the temperature from stud to farm to ensure there are no issues on the delivery front. We await the results, but I’m sure this will not be the problem.

Trial recovery period

Earlier this year we started to allow our first-litter sows to have a period to recover after suckling.  

They are weaned on Wednesdays and given progesterone until the following Tuesday. They then come on heat five days later.

We allow them ad-lib feed during this period and as a result our second litter born alive is now averaging over 14 born alive which is 1.5 a litter better than previous and there are fewer returns – finally a win-win situation.

Moving on

As harvest continues, our straw is now arriving and I have started planning the management of the herd into the autumn as the pig’s natural breeding cycle goes against us again.

Sadly, this will be my last article, as it is time to allow someone else to ramble on about the ups and downs of the pig cycle. I would like to thank the people that have commented on my articles over the past two years – it proves they have been read.


Tony Bayles runs a herd of 1,000 sows producing 7kg pigs and all his own replacement stock on contract to a large local producer.