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The role of your farm on the sows' reproductive potential (2/2)

What is more important: the farm or genetics?

In the previous article we discussed the role of the farm on the potential for the production of born alive (BA) and weaned piglets depending on the type of sow. Here we will talk about the weaning-to 1st mating interval (WSI), farrowing rate and lifetime performance measurements.

Regarding the influence of the farm or the sow category on the weaning-to-1st service interval, the study did not show significant differences. Regarding the farrowing rate, the high-performing farms showed a farrowing rate that was 7.7% higher than that of the low-performing farms. On the other hand, hyperprolific sows show a farrowing rate that is 0.7% higher than that of the hypoprolific sows (Table 4).

Table 4. Classification of the results regarding the farrowing rate and the weaning-to-1st service interval, categorized by the type of farm and sow.

Farrowing rate (%) WSI (days)
Farm type High-performing farm 89.3 5.9
Low-performing farm 81.6 6.2
Sow type Hyperprolific sows 85.8 6.0
Hypoprolific sows 85.1 6.1

Regarding the study of the farrowing rate (Table 5), depending on the type of sow and the parity, we can see that parity 1 and 2 hyperprolific sows showed a farrowing rate 3.5% and 2.7% higher than hypoprolific sows. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that no differences were found between both types of sows in parities 3 and 6.

Table 5. Classification of the results relative to the farrowing rate (%), categorised by the type of sow.

Farrowing rate (%)
Parity P0 P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6
Hyperprolific sows 87.9 84.3 87.3 86.7 86.0 84.8 83.3
Hypoprolific sows 87.4 80.8 84.6 85.6 86.1 85.6 85.3

Regarding the lifetime performance production indexes, the following table shows different aspect to be underlined (Table 6):

  • Both the type of farm and the type of sow have an influence on the number of born alive and pigs weaned throughout the productive life of the sow and on the number of pigs weaned/sow/year.
  • Hyperprolific sows had 45-58% more born alive piglets than hypoprolific sows, depending on the type of farm where they were housed; whereas regarding the farms, the hyper- and hypoprolific sows on high-performing farms showed 7-10% more BA piglets, respectively, in comparison with the same type of sows housed on low-performing farms.
  • Regarding the number of pigs weaned/sow/year, the differences between the high- and low-performing farms were greater than the differences between the hyper-and hypoprolific sows. The different behaviour shown by the hypoprolific sows, depending on the type of farm where they are housed, is specially noteworthy.
  • Additionally, the hyper- and hypropolific sows on high-performing farms showed 27-30% less non-productive days than on low-performing farms.

Table 6. Comparison between the global production indexes by type of farms and sows.

High-performing farms Low-performing farms
Total born alive piglets Hyperprolific sows 70.3 63.6
Hypoprolific sows 44.4 41.3
Total weaned piglets Hyperprolific sows 56.0 46.8
Hypoprolific sows 45.3 38.7
Total non productive days Hyperprolific sows 82.1 111.8
Hypoprolific sows 73.1 103.8
Weaned/sow/year Hyperprolific sows 25.8 20.9
Hypoprolific sows 24.5 18.3

As years have gone by, it has been seen that production responds to multifactorial variables in which both the potential of the sow and the 'farm effect' play crucial roles. This study shows how the type of farm has a greater influence than the genetic potential of the sow regarding farrowing rate, non-productive days and pigs weaned/sow/year. On the other hand, regarding the number of born alive, the genetic effect of the sow exceeds that of the farm.

No doubt, having a high-performing farm allows obtaining a higher output from the sow's genetic potential, especially from those genetics with a low prolificacy. The high-performing farms probably have good insemination standards, technologically adapted premises, a better care in the farrowing rooms and strict culling policies. All these features allow obtaining a better output from the sow's potential. Undoubtedly, the genetic potential plays its role, showing a prolificacy that cannot be obtained based on the characteristics of the farm. Nevertheless, and with regard to considering a genetic change on our farm, we must bear in mind the important role that our own farm will have.

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