Your business. Our DNA.

During gestation it is important that the sows’ nutrient requirements for foetal development, restoration of body condition and udder growth are met through balanced feeding. The goal is to make sure that the sows achieve an optimum body condition, so they are in good shape for farrowing and the nursing period that follows. To achieve this, you might find it necessary to adjust individual feed rations for sows which are either too thin or too fat.

In the gestation unit there are plenty of opportunities to stay in the pens for longer periods, to ensure the best conditions in terms of health and socialization

Five days after mating, the implantation period starts. Lasting between three and four weeks, this is when the fertilized eggs form the placenta and it has an enormous impact on the litter size. Because of this, sows and gilts should not be moved around, re-grouped or be exposed to anything that could be stressful during the first four weeks after mating, as this could result in smaller litters.

It is a good idea to put sows and gilts into a vaccination programme, made in collaboration with the herd veterinarian, to reduce the risk of reproductive diseases spreading through the herd.

Everyday tasks in the gestation unit:
Inspect all animals at least once a day to check for any signs of disease.

During the daily routines, staff should focus on checking the general health of the animals

Aside from general health, it is important to focus on socialization e.g. by giving the sows straw

Between four and six weeks after mating all sows and gilts should be tested for pregnancy.

Gestation control

Regular testing of all mated animals for pregnancy gives you an insight into the overall fertility of the herd. This enables you to quickly identify empty sows which can be mated again or culled. Regular pregnancy testing will reduce the overall number of non-productive days.

It is a good idea to heat control the sows with a teaser boar every day from day 19 to day 28 after mating. Some sows experience a prolonged return interval, so it is important to do heat control for a few more days. Carry out heat control during a quiet time of the day using an experienced and active boar – and if possible, using different boars.

Pregnancy control carried out with an ultrasound scanner starts on day 28 until day 42- make sure you scan every single sow.

If you are in any doubt about the result of a scan, mark the sow and scan her again within a week. If the sow is empty mark her and move her to the mating unit – or prepare her for culling.

Pregnancy control is an important part of the herd operation – and so are due care and proper registration of the results. It is the best way of finding and eliminating the cause of mistakes and hidden diseases.

VACCINATION PROGRAMME

This vaccination strategy is a guideline based on a Danish setup.

You should always work on your vaccination strategy with the expert guidance of the herd veterinarian.

Vaccine 1st vaccination 2nd vaccination Revaccination Comment
Glässer’s disease 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination Vaccination given prior to delivery: 2 vaccinations 3 weeks apart. Vaccinations should be finished 2 weeks before delivery.
Porcine Parvo Virus – PPV 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination
Erysipelas* 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination
Porcine circovirus type 2 – PCV2** 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination
PRRS US & PRRS EU*** 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination This vaccination assumes that an inactivated/killed vaccine is used
Clostridial Diarrhoea (& Coli) 6 weeks prior to first farrowing 2 weeks prior to first farrowing 2 weeks prior to farrowing
Mycoplasma At entry to quarantine 2 weeks after 1st vaccination Can be given as One-Shot, depending on the type of vaccine
Influenza 5½ months 3 weeks after 1st vaccination
Rhinitis (atrophic) On entry into quarantine 3 weeks after 1st vaccination
Actinobacillus Pleuropneumonia – App On entry into quarantine 3 weeks after 1st vaccination

* For Erysipelas, you should consider whether to give the youngest animals an extra boost during the quarantine period.
** This is DanBred’s recommendation for the PCV2 vaccination. Some herds administer the vaccine at weaning. If there are repeated problems with PCV2, you might consider including sows and boars in the vaccination programme. However, you should only make changes to the vaccination programme under the guidance of the herd veterinarian.
*** If you use activated/live PRRS vaccines, you should administer the vaccination once at the beginning of the animals’ quarantine period. The use of live vaccines should be followed by a quarantine period of at least 12 weeks.

Feeding from mating until farrowing

During gestation it is important to meet the sows’ nutrient requirements for foetal development and udder growth through balanced feeding. It is crucial to restore body condition after weight loss from the farrowing unit as a negative energy balance increases the risk of abortion. We recommend adding raw ingredients rich in fibre to the gestation feed.

It can be an advantage to provide straw in order to ensure full and calm sows, regardless if they are fed dietary fibres in their diet or not.

The basic principle for feeding in the gestation unit:

  1. Sows which have lost a lot of weight during the previous nursing period will consume more feed. We recommend restoring good body condition within the first four to five weeks after mating.
  2. We do not recommend feeding gilts ad libitum for the first four weeks after mating. Studies have shown that high weight gain during the first part of gestation increases the risk of abortion among gilts. So, we recommend feeding small gilts around 2.2 kg per day and heavy gilts around 2.4 kg per day.
  3. The environment (temperature, draught and humidity) can have a big influence on feed consumption.
Adjusting feed in the gestation unit is highly dependent on the feed systems, however feed curves and routines should be similar regardless of system

To reach the optimum weight at farrowing, it is essential to focus on feeding during the four weeks before farrowing.

Feeding method

It is recommended that gestating sows are fed according to their individual needs.

Group feeding the sows places a big demand on herd managers, so if group feeding is the only option, it is vital that they focus on:

  1. Making sure sows are grouped according to body condition
  2. Thin sows are penned individually
  3. Ensuring body condition remains homogeneous among the sows in each group
Group feeding, where sows are sorted by body condition to ensure uniform feed levels within the pens. In group feeding the provision of straw is even more important

Body condition score

It is important to focus on body condition around farrowing. Group the sows according to their body condition.

Different methods can be used for the evaluation of body condition:

  1. Visual evaluation – simply look at each sow

  1. Palpation – use your hands to check the body
With palpation you should pay attention to the hip bones – how much pressure should be applied to feel the hip bone?
  1. Measurement of the backfat thickness

Accurate backfat measurements rely on precision – measurements are made 7 cm from the spine on the rear rib

When reading the measurements of backfat on the scanner, it is important to read in P2 in order to have comparable results

We always recommend using a combination of these methods when assessing body condition- you should never rely on visual evaluation alone.

Carry out body condition evaluation before mating, at pregnancy control, after 70 days of gestation and just before farrowing. Your evaluation of body condition before mating will help you choose the right feeding curve for each sow during gestation.

Subsequent body condition evaluations at pregnancy tests and on day 70 of gestation indicate whether the sow’s feeding curve is correct or if you need to make some adjustments. The body condition evaluation at farrowing helps work out if the feeding strategy you chose for each sow during gestation was correct. At the time of farrowing, you want as many sows as possible to have an average body condition with a back-fat thickness of 16-19 mm.

Recommended feed allowance during gestation

Guideline feed curves for sows during gestation (kg per day)¹
Days post mating Guideline feed allowance based on body condition score and back-fat thickness at mating
Skinny ≤ 13 mm Average 13-15 mm Fat ≥ 16 mm Gilts
1-28 4.3 2.9 2.4 2.2 – 2.4
29-84 3.7 2.4 2.3 2.4 – 2.6
85-115 3.9 3.4 3.4 3.3
116-117* 3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0

1 Daily feed allowances are based on a diet with an energy density of 9.5 MJ NE/12.5 MJ ME/1.05 EW with a content of around 4.12g SID lysine per kg feed.
* In general 3,4 kg of feed should be provided until farrowing, and a decrease to 3,0 kg at day 116 should be used only if prevalence of MMA is too high.

Feed curves for sows during gestation

My notes for Gestation Unit

Next