BPEX blog

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Hands-on experience on a Danish farm

I’ve just spent a couple of days working on a Danish pig farm with my knowledge transfer team colleagues and there are a few interesting things we’ve picked up…

We’ve been trimming sows’ feet this afternoon! It’s thought to increase longevity by at least one litter.

  • We’ve done some fostering, with 10-15% nurse sows needed – it’s a one to two step foster, depending on the strength of the piglets
  • Feeding fat to sows three weeks before farrowing is thought to increase quantity of colostrum
  • Tickling under a sow’s tail improves stimulation when inseminating.

Let us know if you’ve got any questions about what we’ve seen in Denmark, either by commenting below or dropping me an email. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Good service facilities help boost numbers

Good service facilities and staff are key to good service management which, in turn, will help increase both farrowing rate and numbers born.

Well-designed service areas help stockmen manage heat detection and artificial insemination (AI) effectively. The service area should be nice and quiet and laid out in a way that aids accurate heat detection and stimulation, without interference from other sows.

It can be more difficult to manage service on an outdoor unit, as batch systems require more than 100 sows to be checked and served. So a producer in East Anglia is trying out a newly developed ‘AI pod’ for outdoor units, as part of one of our BPEX field trials.

The pod has individual AI stalls for sows and gilts, on either side of the boar pens. So far, it is helping sows stay calmer and it is much easier to differentiate whether sows are showing standing heat or are not in heat, so it should mean that timing of service is more accurate. We will know more soon about its effects on numbers born.

For more information on service management, download Action for Productivity factsheets numbers 29, 30 and 31 from www.bpex.org.uk/2TS/breeding/

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The 'right' time to serve

The ‘right’ time to inseminate varies between farms and individual sows, so it is important to adapt the insemination routine to the specific farm.

Insemination must occur some hours before ovulation, which normally happens two thirds of the way through oestrus, eg 36-44 hours after onset of oestrus. Acceptable fertilisation results are normally achieved by inseminating 24 hours before ovulation.

Accurately identifying the start of first standing heat is the most important thing to get right as inseminating too early or late will result in poorer litter sizes and lower farrowing rates.

Producers should carry out ‘oestrus mapping’ for their unit; this involves testing for standing heat in the morning and afternoon, to help ensure that timing of boar contact, testing for standing heat and insemination are all being carried out at the optimum times.

To download the factsheet, Action for Productivity 31: Optimising timing of service and for more information on the Breed +3 initiative, go to: www.bpex.org.uk/2TS/breeding/   

Friday, 2 August 2013

New Practical Pig app to help boost performance

Attention to detail is essential on every unit to improve pig performance, which is one of the things that led us to develop our new Practical Pig app. It features a whole library of short video clips demonstrating practical management techniques on farm. 

The clips explain why tasks are done in a certain way and what impact that can have on pig productivity and, because they are available as a free app for smartphone and tablet computer, pig stockmen and managers can use them while they're out and about. 

You can download the app, free, at play.google.com here or the videos can also be viewed on the BPEX website here.

Breeding herd management has been covered first, as part of the Breed +3 initiative, and filming for finishing unit management clips is due to start in autumn 2013.

Have a look and let us know what you think! We'll be adding new clips regularly so please tell us if there's something you'd like to be included. Please comment below or email me.