Seasonal infertility hits Andrew McCrea

This autumn we have seen a worrying number of sows and gilts that were tested “in pig” being barren. We decided to test every animal again, detecting a few sows that must have reabsorbed the pregnancy not long after being tested in pig.

Sow cards were called up and nearly all had some sort of poor history, perhaps repeating before or poor litter numbers. Needless to say they all got a speedy exit to the cull sow trade. Four weeks later we tested again and things seem to be getting better not worse.

Seasonal infertility seems to be playing a bigger factor each year the longer my herd is in production, not being 15 years without a re-pop. I think for the first seven years I didn’t see any seasonal dip in fertility.

I recently attended a discussion group of producers using the same management software. Some 30 producers’ data is collected by our “two great” pig CAFRE specialists Dr Mark Hawe and Liz Donnelly, and analysed.

The discussion was one of the best meetings I have ever attended with people freely sharing knowledge. Gilt performance on one farm was astonishing with born alive of over 13 – I get 10.9 – and the farmer shared how his gilts are allowed to cycle three times and served on the third heat, and grouped prior to service.

I have already begun planning how to implement some of these great ideas to my herd. Let’s hope I get the same benefits as them on performance.



Livestock farmer focus: Andrew McCrea

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