Industry collaboration is essential for identifying strategies to improve sow longevity, litter performance and maintaining the profitability of the swine sector.
According to a leading veterinarian. Dr Bill Hollis, Senior Partner at Carthage Veterinary Service (CVS), Illinois, USA, says collaboration between producers, veterinarians and feed and nutrition companies can open the door to new ways of maximising herd health and performance.
"The roles cannot exist in isolation; our veterinarians work very closely with production teams, developing and implementing new strategies and detailed procedures to raise more pigs successfully. As a team we evaluate the metrics, constantly monitoring and auditing the implementation of the programmes."
CVS, a practice overseeing 27 farms, representing approximately 118,000 sows, also works closely with industry partners, such as Novus International, to explore new options for performance improvement. Such collaboration recently took the form of a large-scale research study, to determine the benefits of chelated minerals against inorganic minerals.
"Following the study we've implemented new tools that have helped to improve the viability of young pigs and maintain large litter size," Dr Hollis says. "Chelated trace minerals are now one of the tools in the toolbox to improve the viability of young pigs and successfully maintain a large litter size in our herds."
The study was conducted on two farms with a total of 6,400 sows. Animals on one farm were fed an inorganic mineral, while the other herd received chelated minerals to replace 50% of the inorganic minerals. The results showed that supplementation with chelated trace minerals boosted sow longevity, reproduction and skeletal health, providing a positive return on investment.
Economic benefits continued for the duration of the sow's stay on the farm across the three-year trial, with sows fed a chelated trace mineral blend exhibiting a higher farrowing rate, producing 2.7 more pigs born alive, and weaning 1.7 more pigs over four consecutive parities. Mortality also decreased along with improved general health of the sows given chelated minerals.
Dr Hollis says such research is vital for the continuing improvement of swine production. "Collaboration on research has seen us work together to study decisions we both wanted to make about implementing strategy in the barn. And so from a veterinarian standpoint, my role is to look at a company like Novus as an industry partner; we are going to continue to challenge each other with questions and strategies that we want to see implemented in the barn."
To learn more on how CVS has worked with Novus to implement strategies and studies to improve sow performance and health.