Genetics Start of a Good Sow Herd

Genetics Start of a Good Sow Herd

Genetics are a good starting point for any living being. That is no different for the sows in your herd.

Chad Yoder, a geneticist with Elanco Animal Health Value Added Swine Services, says obviously there are many factors that play into the productivity and health of your sow herd, but a lot of those other factors will mean little if you start with poor sow genetics.

“Nowadays, most of the swine genetics are pretty good,” Yoder said after his presentation at the Midwest Pork Conference in Danville, IN.

Most producers know how to measure the productivity of the sows in their herd: pigs per sow per year, their ability to rebreed, the sow’s longevity and lifetime productivity, their progeny performance and the bottom line of revenue. Of course, true sow performance is measured by a combination of all of the above.

Now, how to get your sows to measure up on all of the above factors relies on a lot of factors, again starting with genetics. “You can only go as high as your sows’ genetic potential will take you,” Yoder says. Nutrition of course plays a big part, “feeding her for success,” Yoder says. “This has to start early, while she is nursing as a piglet.” Feeding a young gilt as if she will become a replacement in the herd starts when feeding the growing diet. “You need to feed a gilt-specific diet, don’t feed a barrow diet if you plan on those young females to be replacements in your herd.”

Yoder says health, environment and facilities, management, seasonality, parity structure, other variables and the interaction of all the above will affect your sows' productivity, and this will be further explained in future issues of the National Hog Farmer, as well as future newsletters presented by the National Hog Farmer.

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