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Sow overmanagement consequences (1/2)

We saw aggressiveness in the sows, and we suspected that it could have been caused by the handling around the moment of the farrowing. We decided to register and analyze the data relative to the handling in order to confirm our suspicions.

On a farm, the recording of great amounts of data is very common. Nevertheless, their under-use is, sadly, too frequent. A correct analysis of the data recorded continuously on the farm, especially of those that are not destined to be recorded in the management software, can be very useful for solving practical problems on the farm.

The real case explained in this article is a clear example of this. The farm is medium-sized (540 producing sows). We see aggressiveness in the sows, especially after farrowing, and up to 27% of them are treated with tranquilizers due to this reason (Figures 1 and 2). There is a high percentage of stillborn piglets (SB), lack of milk during the first days after the farrowing, a high percentage of pre-weaning mortality (PWM), especially due to crushings during the first hours of life and, as a direct consequence, a low number of weaned piglets per sow (Table 1).

Aggressive sows towards their piglets and the staff

Figure 1 and 2: Sows that are aggressive with their piglets and with the staff.

Total born piglets Live born piglets % stillborn piglets % mummified piglets % preweaning mortality Weaned piglets / litter Weaned piglets / sow / year
13.4 12.1 7.7 1.6 23 9.2 21.5

Table 1. Production figures.

We suspect that the causative factor of stress is the handling received by the sows during the farrowing and the first days of the lactation. Once having checked that other factors, such as feeding, temperature, and air circulation were correct, we decided to register and analyze the data related to the pre- and post-farrowing handling in order to confirm the suspicions.

farrowings index card
Figure 3: farrowings index card

1- Recording of data

The farm has farrowings index cards (Figure 3) that have several fields to be filled out. We emphasize the meticulous recording of the monitoring of the farrowing, the treatments carried out and the losses of piglets (especially the cause and their age).

We record 35 data for each farrowing for a total of 345 farrowings during a 3-month period, so the total figures are 12,075 data. So, it is essential to classify them in order to focus on the goals to be analyzed and, in this way, avoid losing information among a great set of figures.

It is important to highlight that the average age of the sows in each group is very similar, with values of 4.1-4.3 farrowings per sow.

2- Entering of the data

For the entering of the data, there are several "key areas" that it is interesting to analyze:

  • Farrowing (TB, LB, SB, mummified piglets…)
  • Fosterings, transfers of piglets, foster sows and average age of the piglets
  • Losses, classification, and age
  • Treatments carried out on the piglets
  • Weaning, abattoir, and average of the history of the sow
  • PROCEDURES CARRIED OUT ON THE SOWS. These are the most interesting data, because through them we can tell if the handling affects the production performance.
    • During the farrowing (oxytocin, tranquilizers, assistance during the farrowing)
    • Identification of mastitis, days of lactation, treatments

With respect to the level of intervention on the sows, we distinguish between three different situations: assisted farrowing (an intervention has been needed), NON-assisted farrowing at NIGHT (there is no assistance because there is nobody present) and, lastly, NON-assisted farrowing during the DIURNAL hours (non-assisted because it is not necessary). The intensity of the intervention on the sows is also classified (Table 2), and also if it is necessary to administer a tranquilizer due to aggressiveness towards the litter.

Table 2. Levels of intervention during the farrowing

1 one time in an hour
2 two times in an hour
3 three or more times in an hour

The identification of mastitis is also classified with respect to the day in which the sow is treated: before/after the 5th day of lactation.


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Article Comments

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Zoltan Gregus24-Mar-2014 (4 years 2 months 28 days ago)

Just a short coment.
Did you check the insoluble fiber Content of the feed?
Many of this disorders are history using insoluble fibre concentrates.
Best Regards

The question is not so simple. Increase the fermentable fiber is a good idea, but it does not resolve the issue.
The sow's head two interesting symptom. The eye conjunctiva inflammation. The sow mouth on the edge of white foam. In which I am not sure, but I see the picture of the sow snout skin tissue necrosis.
This causes additional problems. I think that the sow does not compensate, combo, acidosis, metabolitikus and respiratory system eye visible symptom. The other big problem with the release of ammonia poisoning, a symptom of the frothing at the mouth.
To compensate for the acidosis enters the renal route, this is known as escaping the glutamine → 2 HCO3- + 2 NH+ 4. The kidneys of the ammonium ions should choose, but I do not know. At this point, the Organization would reach the goal of having a glutamine residue, namely the two breaks down to HCO3-ion which would compensate the acidosis. Further it is possible to process the liver detoxication function where the urea cycle in the detoxication of ammonia. The liver does not go in the urea cycle,
Two reasons
1. small number of intact liver parenchyma cells in the liver.
2. lysine-arginine antagonism of the urea cycle, unable to function.
This causes the ammonia poisoning. Due to the unfortunate sow liver and kidney damage.
The acidosis can develop kidney problems, liver problems due to ketosis is the sow it causes a huge acid load the animal. The respiratory acidosis due to kidney failure can develop.
Renal insufficiency → blood pressure increase → hypertrophic heart in work → blood stasis in the pulmonary circulation → pulmonary oedema → reduced the effectiveness of respiration, carbon dioxide exhalation → respiratory acidosis.
Ammonia poisoning symptom:
Ammonia is added to the liquor, the displacement of the ammonia paralyses muscle motor cells. Therefore, you can not swallow the sow, so it builds up in the saliva foam in the mouth. The nervous excitement of ammonia poisoning is caused by the State. Muscle tremors, gnash one’s teeth, panic condition.
Notice the pregnant sows is ammonia poisoning.

Why is there such a high mortality in the piglets ?
1. Prenatal asphyxia can also be due to prenatal. In this case, the hogs are special acidosis in utero. At this point the piglets the blood pH from 6.0 to pH also may be affected. Due to the vitality of these pigs have no life.
2. the characteristic of the meconium birth of a pig?
3. you must have surfactant deficient piglets.
4. you see mulberry heart disease neonatal piglets?
5. do you have the villous atrophy in piglets?
Wrong thinking.
There is no shortage of animals symptom, not the problem that we do not do something in the feed mixture.
Solving the problem is that some of the material to be removed from the feed mixture!
This is a serious nutrition physiological causes. I feel sorry for the animals, and the economic damage is enormous.
I have been doing for years. There are a lot of practical experience.
It is not easy, but it can be removed.
Unfortunately my English is not good. Excuse Me.
Sincerely, Mester Károly, agricultural engineer, Hungary,
30-years pig feeding experience.

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