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How can you better manage your pregnancy unit?

- Jan 31, 2019 -

How can you better manage your pregnancy unit?

How do you ensure that all aspects of breeding are at their best? Danish breeding company DanBred has written a six-part manual detailing everything from quarantine to childbirth. To give an idea, Pig Progress provides Chapter 1 of the manual: Pregnancy Management.

During pregnancy, it is important to balance the feeding to meet the nutritional needs of the sow for fetal production, restoring physical condition and breast growth. The goal is to ensure that the sows achieve optimal physical condition, so they are suitable for childbirth and subsequent lactation. To achieve this goal, it may be necessary to adjust the sow's individual feed rations, which are either too thin or too fat.

Five days after mating, the implantation period begins. It lasts for 3 to 4 weeks, which is when the fertilized egg forms the placenta, which has a huge impact on the litter size. Therefore, sows and gilts should not move within the first 4 weeks after mating, regroup or expose to any objects that may be stressed, as this may result in smaller litters.

It is a good idea to put sows and gilts in a vaccination program developed in collaboration with herd veterinarians to reduce the risk of reproductive diseases spreading in the herd.


It is advantageous to have and without dietary fiber in the gestational feed and to provide straw on the side to ensure complete and calm sows. Photo: DanBred

The daily tasks of a pregnancy unit include:

Check all animals at least once a day to see if there are any signs of disease;

All sows and gilts should be tested for pregnancy 4 to 6 weeks after mating.

Figure 1 - Sow ratio.


Pregnancy control

Regular testing of the maternal status of all mating animals provides insight into the overall fertility of the herd. Therefore, it is possible to quickly identify empty sows that can be mated or rejected again, and regular pregnancy tests will reduce the total number of non-production days.

It is a good idea to use the advance boar heating to control the sow every day from the 19th to the 28th day after mating. Some sows experience a long return interval, so it is important to have a few days of calorie control. It is best to use experienced active boars for calorie control during a quiet day of the day - if possible, use different boars.

Pregnancy control using an ultrasound scanner must begin on day 28 until day 42. It is important to ensure that each sow is scanned.


Adjusting the feed of a pregnant unit is highly dependent on the feed system, but the feed curve and procedure should be similar regardless of the system. Photo: DanBred

When in doubt about the scan results, it is best to mark the sow to scan her again within a week. If the sow is still empty, the animal must be labeled and moved to the mating unit - or ready for rejection.

Pregnancy control is an important part of herd operations - so pay attention and register the results correctly. This is the best way to discover and eliminate errors and pitfalls.

Figure 2 - Feed curve for sows during pregnancy.


Vaccination plan

The vaccination strategy is based on a guide set in Danish. Under the guidance of experts from animal husbandry and veterinarians, it is vital to always commit to a vaccination strategy.

From mating to childbirth feeding

It is important to meet the sow's nutritional needs for fetal production and breast growth by balanced feeding during pregnancy. Restoring physical condition after weight loss in a childbirth unit is critical because negative energy balance increases the risk of abortion. It is recommended to add fiber-rich raw materials to the pregnancy feed.

Pregnancy units have basic feeding principles:

• Sows that lose weight during the last treatment will consume more feed. It is recommended to restore good physical condition within the first 4 to 5 weeks after mating.

• It is not recommended to randomly feed gilts during the first 4 weeks after mating. Studies have shown that the first part of pregnancy increases weight more, increasing the risk of gilt abortion. Therefore, it is best to feed about 2.2 kg of gilts and about 2.4 kg of raw sows per day.

· The environment (temperature, draft and humidity) can have a large impact on feed consumption.

· In order to achieve optimal weight during childbirth, you must concentrate on feeding within 4 weeks before giving birth.

Feeding method

It is recommended to feed pregnant sows according to individual needs. The group feeding sows has a great need for herd managers, so if group feeding is the only option, then their focus is:

· Making sow herds based on physical condition;

· Feeding sows separately;

· Ensure good health

Physical condition score

Focus on the physical condition around childbirth. The sows are grouped according to the condition of the mother. Different methods can be used to assess physical condition:

• Visual assessment - just observe each sow;

·Palpation - check your body by hand;

·Measure back fat thickness.

It is recommended to always use a combination of these methods when assessing your physical condition, rather than relying solely on visual assessment.

When reading the back measurement on the back of the scanner, it is important to read P2 for comparable results.


Photo: DanBred

An important factor is the assessment of physical condition before mating, during pregnancy control, after 70 days of gestation and before delivery. An assessment of the physical condition prior to mating will help to select the appropriate feeding curve for each sow during pregnancy. A pregnancy test and subsequent physical condition assessment on day 70 of pregnancy will indicate if the sow's feeding curve is correct or if some adjustments are needed.

An assessment of the physical condition at delivery helps determine if each sow's selective feeding strategy is correct during pregnancy. In childbirth, ideally, as many sows should have an average physical condition with a back fat thickness of 16-19 mm.

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