To have readily visible, quick, and handy information of the farm.
The breeding chart is a very useful tool on the farms, and it has been used since long ago. Nowadays many farms have replaced it for the computer, although the breeding chart still offers very readily visible information that the computer programs are not able to provide.
Before, there was a kind of metallic breeding chart that had several disadvantages: it was very heavy, it was expensive and it worked with magnets (each chip represented a sow). Nevertheless, I prefer the breeding charts with cardboard index cards in which we can hand-write the information of each sow because, in this way, we can take the index card with us to carry out different handling operations at the farm (ultrasounds control, entering of the sows to the farrowing quarters, vaccinations in cycles…), and also, the information of the losses during the gestation is not lost (because we cross out that sow instead of moving the magnet). Those who have a metallic tasks breeding chart can always use it as a surface and stick paper or cardboard index cards to write on them, ignoring the magnets. The rest can always resort to the assembly of a home-made breeding chart.
Steps for designing a tasks breeding chart
We need a base of some 190 cm long x 30 cm high with 2 rails so the index cards can be moved. In this case we have used a transparent plastic window as the base and its rails to hold the index cards.
Step 1: Assembly of the frame and the rails.
Each month needs a different index card. A DIN-A4 sheet of paper (29.5cm long) can be divided in 31 boxes. When we have months shorter than 31 days we will cut out the sheet of paper. The numbering of the months stars with number 31 and ends with number 1. It is important to leave a blank space in the top and the bottom of the sheet of paper. In this way, when the index cards are fitted on the rails we will not hide part of the information.
Step 2: Design of the tasks breeding chart index cards.
In order to stick them in the fixed part of the tasks planning chart we need numbers from day 1 (mating) to day 115 (farrowing), and from day 1 (lactation) until the day we wish to wean the piglets. It is very interesting to rely on the 21 days before the mating to carry out the oestrus control of the gilts. It is very important that the boxes in the fixed part correspond with the columns of each index card because if not, the tasks breeding chart will become distorted. If the columns in the index cards measure 0.95 cm (paper sheet: 29.5 cm long / 31 days), each box in the fixed part must have, EXACTLY, the same dimension. All this can be made with a computer and we can print the index cards in colours.
Step 3: Design of the divisions in the fixed part of the tasks breeding chart.
We cut out the numbers and the notes that we wish to add (matings, farrowings, ultrasounds control, oestrus control at 21 days, weanings…) and we will stick them on the upper rail with transparent adhesive plastic.
Step 4: Stick the divisions of the fixed part to the tasks breeding chart.
We only have to hang it, if possible in a clean place (office), although we will not always find the space needed. Another alternative is to hang it in the matings area. We can write down, with a permanent marker, any task in the fixed part. In this example we have written down the amounts of feed to be given according to the state of the gestation and the vaccinations against E. coli.
Step 5: Hang the tasks breeding chart on the farm.