In almost every pig farm I visit, lactation feeding management is a reference point that I try to discuss in detail with the personnel of the unit. After countless field trips, it is clear to me now that although lactation length can be quite similar among different farms, there is still a large variation in litter weaning weight; and it appears this is mainly due to the way farms manage lactation feeding.
For the last decade, the majority of the genetic breeding programs have focused on increasing litter size, aiming to create a highly productive sow that would easily wean more than 27-28 piglets per year. This goal has been clearly achieved, but the increased feed costs and the growing health challenges meant that at the end, this model of genetic improvement is by and large economically inefficient since it does not ensure the financial soundness of a pig unit.
The understated, yet immense, impact of the breeding boar on overall farm productivity is rarely discussed. Any factor related to nutrition or management that can improve boar reproductive performance is of great interest and should be studied extensively.
In recent years, the global pig industry is increasingly confronted with the earnest desire of retailers and consumers to know not only the origin of pork meat and products, but also the living conditions of the animals.
The breeding gilt, bred on the farm or outsourced, is an extremely valuable animal that ensures the ongoing productivity of every pig farm. Nowadays, the yearly replacement rate in commercial farms is approximately 45 percent, which is nearly half of the total sow population!
Progress made during the last two decades in the field of genetics has created a modern pig that grows faster, lays down more protein and less fat, and yields a leaner carcass. At the same time, modern pigs have become better eaters, enabling high feed intake even from the very early days of life.