Reviewing Key Principles for Gilts’ Lifetime Performance

On February 1, 2023, PIC  hosted a webinar and the first of two sessions of “The Impact of Gilt Development on the Future Sow Herd “.  This event had a global audience.

Sergio Canavate’s (PIC Global Applied Female Reproduction) presentation “Reviewing Key Principles for Gilt’s Lifetime Performance” highlighted some of the work from our collaborative industry project with PIC.

From 2018 to 2020, Jenny Patterson worked closely with Juan Carlos Pinilla, PIC Technical Services, to establish key principles to improve sow lifetime productivity. Pinilla summarizes the project as a powerful blend between the private sector and academia, where the private world was represented by Kekén , a large producer in Mexico, and PIC, a leading genetic supplier. Our overarching question was: Of the many potential factors involved, what key elements can be managed by farms? We understand lifetime performance as the expression of reproductive aspects (farrowing rate, litter size), management decisions (culling) and unexpected losses (sow mortality).

To answer the question, the collaborator provider extensive data from 2 years of individual gilts entering the system that were tracked until the last one hit the third weaning. That information was carefully reviewed and analyzed to come up with updated recommendations, driven by data. Those general recommendations are:

Early puberty: Start boar stimulation early enough (~170 days). Gilts should have a recorded heat by 195 days.

Breed gilts on at least 2nd detected estrus: Delay to 3rd estrus only to meet minimum weight targets.

Breed gilts between 140-160 kg body weight: Avoid going beyond that.

Breed gilts prior to 225 d of age: Older than that, they are likely overweight!

“We were extremely fortunate to work with Kekén because of their excellent gilt management practices and quality of data they collect, they set the bar high in terms of industry standards and biological performance,” says Jenny. She goes on to stress, “Gilts are the foundation that drives pig productivity now and in the future.”

This is supported by an always-growing empirical evidence from the field that shows systems with solid and consistent gilt programs tend to be more cost-efficient and competitive than their counterparts that don’t.

This project also highlighted the importance of using farm records to provide powerful insight to make data-driven decisions that positively affect overall herd performance. In the case of the replacement gilt, the necessary data are often not collected and/or analyzed… BUT critical to track and monitor reproductive success.

At Gentec, we value our industry partners, and we work together to address industry-wide issues. We continue to work collaborate with PIC to address sow longevity.

Jenny Patterson, Gentec Swine Industry Liaison

Juan Carlos Pinilla, PIC Technical Services




Posted in Industry.