Thumbs-up from panel

26 April 2002


Thumbs-up from panel

PIG health and performance is good, according to the experts at our six-monthly veterinary meeting which took place on Mar 1, writes Jasper Renold.

The HM Boot Pig Business program and the Agrosoft Bureau data provided the usual detailed performance records for our panel which included Richard Potter of Larkmead Veterinary Group, John Goss, Technical Accounts Manager of PIC and Andrew Spurrell our veterinary surgeon from Oundle.

The health status of the Easton Lodge herd is unchanged since the last meeting with no evidence of PDNS or PMWS or PRRS and all pigs looked excellent, according to the vets.

On the performance front, the overriding feeling was, that it was good, although there is room for fine tuning in some areas.

In transition

The breeding herd is very much in transition with the first gilts of the closed herd rotational breeding programme due to farrow in two weeks time. Those are based on Camborough 15 sows used as GPs put to damline Landrace boars. A snapshot of the different types of breeding sows and gilts we have at present is shown in Fig 1.

The C15 sows are of parity four and upwards and comprise 42% of the herd. The stopgap bacon house gilts are now parity one to three and make up 40% of the herd and the new Landrace gilts now comprise 18% of the herd.

Fig 2 shows the litter performance by parity with the bacon house gilts currently producing 9.9 born alive in parity one; 11.0 in parity two and 11.8 in parity three. Thats almost respectable, but we have been using the hormone treatment PG600 as an insurance policy to give us the best chance of prompt heats after weaning and a good litter size. These gilts have been mated to the PIC Pietrain Solution boar to maximise hybrid vigour.

Gilt service

The importance of having the new gilts served at 210 days and weighing 120kg was emphasised at the meeting; too young and they may not last the course and too old they may simply get too big in middle age. It was felt that the ones seen in the service house were on the large side and it was recommended that we tattoo future gilts with the week number of birth and take them off ad-lib feed earlier.

Since the last visit it was noted the sow condition had been better controlled with fewer overweight sows which should help piglet mortality and save on feed cost. A lower nutritional dry sow ration is now to be used with 13.0 MJ.DE and 0.5% lysine.

The HM Boot programme suggests that conception rate at first service and farrowing rate has dropped in the past four months and the situation needs monitoring closely. One reason is that nearly all weaned sows are served along with a higher than normal number of the new gilts. That enables selective heavy culling to take place after pregnancy testing after 28 days and accounts for the high replacement rate of 48%.

There has been a slightly worrying number of sows showing irregular returns to service although serology for leptospirosis, PRRS and parvovirus has proved negative, but there is some evidence to a recent challenge of swine influenza.

It was felt that the service area would benefit from a wash and disinfection and this point was also made about the Straw-Flow and double Solari finishing pens and this is now well in progress. New hoppers are being installed in the Solari pens and the opportunity has been taken to make bird-proof lids. It was slightly disappointing that finishing pigs in the Straw-Flow do not seem to benefit from the squeaky clean pens. Indeed, at the moment growth rate in that house seems to have reduced in the past few weeks.

Nearly a third of the progeny coming through to the final finishing stages are out of bacon-house gilts put a Pietrain boar. Although progeny from these boars grow well in the early stages, they have reduced growth at the finishing end, some producers claim.

Milking well

Piglets in the farrowing houses, particularly in the new freedom-farrowing house, looked well on the day with sows evidently milking well and birth weights seemed to be acceptable but it might be an idea to do some check weighing as a precaution. It was felt that the design of the freedom-farrowing crate in its closed position was disappointing since it is possible for piglets to be trapped against the back of the crate and it is not easy for them to find the udder. Modifications are to be made to rectify this. Meanwhile, repairs to farrowing houses are being made by unit staff as time permits. &#42

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