Low-stress sows is key to reproduction performance

Removing stress in gilts and sows is key to good reproductive performance, was the clear message from two pig breeding events.

English pig producers were keen to hear from Dutch pig expert Dr Nicoline Soede how the Netherlands' industry achieves an average 27 pigs weaned per sow per year.
They took the chance to quiz Nicoline and her colleagues Prof Bas Kemp and Dr Hanneke Feitsma on many aspects of reproductive management at the Two-Tonne Sow (2TS) Focus on Breeding events, organised by BPEX.
Nicoline emphasised one of the most important factors for successful insemination timing and establishing pregnancy is to minimise stress and focus on 'animal-directed' management. She said: ”Stress hormones have an influence on reproductive hormones and management stressors can affect oestrus, ovulation and early pregnancy.
“Causes can include moving and mixing sows, rough handling and heat stress. Producers should be aware of the difference between chronic sustained stress and acute stress. Chronic stress has a much greater effect and, before oestrus, it may lead to shorter duration of oestrus and delayed or no ovulation.”
Another critical period is between days seven and 21 of pregnancy, when embryos are migrating to establish their place in the uterus. Nicoline said: “Week one of pregnancy is a better time to re-group sows so that they are in a calm environment before this risk period in weeks two and three.”
Nearly 200 people attended the two events, held in Wetherby and Milton Keynes. Producer Simon Watchorn said afterwards: “It was one of the best events I've been to and the most I've ever learned. I'll be reviewing whether there are things I can change on my own unit.”
Look out for more advice and information from the conference at www.2TS.org.uk in the next few weeks. Also check for local meetings on the events pages, where there will be more discussion of these topics.
Professor Bas Kemp and Dr Nicoline Soede are both from the Animal Science Dept at Wageningen University and Dr Hanneke Feitsma is from IPG Netherlands.

Editor PigProgress

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