Gilt Management: The Key to Successful Pork Production

At Vita Plus, we ensure that a healthy diet will promote exceptional performance over a lifetime by conducting frequent reviews of both our own research and the work of others.

In addition to the nutrition, proper care of the hens leads to increased productivity over their lifetime. The following are a few key components of management that are important in establishing a foundation for future success:

1. The risk of boar infection and HNS

Exposure to the boar should begin early and include direct touch. Gilts that are exposed to boars directly (in the pen) go into heat earlier and more frequently than those who are just exposed to boars through the fence line.

To accurately monitor the timing of individual gilt estrus and to increase lifetime farrowing rate and days spent in the herd, it is recommended to begin daily exposure at an early age and to begin recording heat-no-service (HNS) dates at day 140 of age. Both of these practices should be carried out as soon as possible.

2. Proper timing of reproduction

It is best to breed gilts when they are in their second or third estrus cycle and when they weigh between 300 and 330 pounds. Breeding gilts that are too light can result in a lower conception rate and smaller litter sizes; breeding gilts that are too heavy can result in an increased demand for lifelong feed maintenance as well as greater concerns regarding motor dysfunction and lameness.

3. Load up gilt litters

The first pregnancy has a significant impact on both the lifetime amount of milk produced and the function of the teats. Increased milk production during the subsequent parity can be achieved by loading up gilts with full litters (14 healthy pigs for 14 functional teats). Because the amount of milk produced is directly related to the rate at which piglets develop, it is essential to use all of the teats that are functional during the first pregnancy.

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4. Limit stress

Ovulation and conception rate can be negatively impacted by elevated cortisol levels, which can be caused by anything that causes the gilt to experience stress prior to breeding. When breeding, it is best to wait at least three weeks before moving, breaking dogs out of crates, or administering vaccinations. The commencement of estrus and the viability of embryos can both be delayed when a woman is exposed to high levels of heat stress.

5. Perform a pre-breeding flush

A positive influence on ovulation rate and litter size can be achieved by flush-feeding (ad libitum) gilts for the last 14 days prior to breeding (McCaw, 2000). (McCaw, 2000). (McCaw, 2000). Although flush feeding raises the level of nourishment right before breeding, it is essential to return to the maintenance level as soon as possible after the first pregnancy has been carried to term.

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