UK: New boar quality assurance scheme
Although AI now accounts for 75-80% of pig services in the UK, the boar is still a very important animal on most farms and is used extensively to provide cover for sows both naturally and artificially inseminated on the farm.
Most boars can sire 6,000 piglets in a year using on-farm AI. This means they must not only be of superior quality and fertile but they must also exhibit a high libido.
To address these issues, pig breeding company ACMC has introduced a new boar quality assurance test. When sexually mature, at around six months old, young boars are 'jump-tested' for semen collection four times and are given a libido score from 1 to 4, with 1 being a “Timid” score and 4 being an “Excellent Worker”. When the boars are working well a semen sample is then examined in the company's laboratory and scored for sperm viability using the BPEX standards.
Once these standards are met, a boar is tagged to demonstrate that this procedure has been carried out and the animal is issued with a “Boar Quality Test Certificate”.
The quality tag also denotes that the boar has been individually performance tested and selected according to ACMC's sire-line selection index. This gives a 40% weighting to daily liveweight gain, 20% to feed conversion, 20% to backfat and 20% to muscle depth.
“With the cost of a missed service amounting to around £2.50 per day, libido and fertility are vitally important to pig farmers who want their sows in pig without unnecessary delay. Our Boar Quality Test Certificate assures our customers that our boars have been examined for these traits and have also been tested for the commercial traits needed in their progeny,” commented Matthew Curtis, ACMC's managing director.
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