The use of the Renco device to determine the body condition (BC) of the sows in an unbiased way is nowadays an usual practice at the sow farms. The backfat thickness is measured at the P2 vertebra level, 6-7 cm away from the midline. Before making the measurement it is convenient to shave the area, and it is essential to apply oil. As the readings are carried out it is also usual to register the results with the aim of reflecting the evolution of the BC of the sows and of being able to analyze the results.
When we carry out the readings when being alone, the practice is quite difficult, end even more if we want to follow the different steps from the beginning to the end on each of the sows. First we have to identify the point where the reading will be made, after that shave the area, apply the oil, place the probe and make the reading, register the result… In one pocket we will carry the oil, in another one the razor, in one hand the Renco device, in the other one the notebook and a pen... In the end, all this ends up being a mess, the notebook ends up with oil stains, the pen ends up not writing well or not writing at all, and we do not have hands left to press the button to activate the reading by the Renco device.
A much easier option is to start marking on all the sows the point where the reading will be made. This can be carried out with the razor or marking the area with a thick felt-tip pen with a flashy colour. Then we will cut the hair and we will finally perform the reading and write down the data. If we are lucky enough and another person helps us the system is very quick. One marks the area with a felt-tip pen, the other one shaves the hair and after that the reading is carried out.
Photos 1 and 2: We mark the point where we will make the reading with a thick felt-tip pen with a flashy colour.
Photo 3: First we mark all the sows that we wish to examine.
Photos 4 and 5: The hair can be cut with a razor or scissors (the curved ones are ideal). Another option would be not to shave the hair, but this can make the readings more difficult in some cases.
Photo 6: We carry out the reading and we write down the result.