Evaluation Of Management Practices

Finding management practices responsible for problems is the most time-consuming portion of reproductive management, because it involves a series of trial-and-error investigations. However, knowing which reproductive events might be deficient facilitates the process by reducing the number of procedures that need evaluation. Table 3 contains a summary of management practices that should be evaluated when searching for causes. The list is by no means inclusive, but it does concentrate on the most common management practices that cause failure of the physiological processes associated with reproduction.

Once a management practice is identified as a potential cause, corrective measures should be taken. Unfortunately, it normally takes about five months to see improvements in reproductive performance. This is the length of time required for sows to complete their reproductive cycle (115-day gestation, 18- to 28-day lactation, and 4- to 7-day return-to-estrus interval). As a result, subsequent analysis of reproductive performance is an important,

Table 2

Patterns of reproductive failure and their relationship to reproductive physiology

Pattern

Farrowing rate

Return interval

Number born alive

Possible reproductive events that failed

I

Unacceptable

Regular

Unacceptable

Recovery of sow reproductive tract during lactation

Fertilization

Embryonic development (before day 12)

II

Unacceptable

Irregular

Unacceptable

Embryonic development (between day 12 and 28)

III

Acceptable

N/Aa

Unacceptable

Fetal development (after day 28)

Farrowing

IV

Unacceptable

Regular

Acceptable

Recovery of sow reproductive tract during lactation

Fertilization

Embryonic development (before day 12)

V

Unacceptable

Irregular

Acceptable

Embryonic development (between day 12 and 28)

aNot applicable when farrowing rate is acceptable; then by default, the return interval is also.

aNot applicable when farrowing rate is acceptable; then by default, the return interval is also.

Table 3 Common management practices associated with specific patterns of reproductive failure

Pattern

Reproductive event

Management practices

I

Recovery of sow

• Lactation lengths less than 14 days

Reproductive system during lactation

• Low nutrient intake of sows during lactation

Fertilization

• Use of low quality semen (<70% motile and morphologically normal sperm cells)

• Mating frequencies of less than once per day of estrus

• Boar exposure (for detection of estrus) of less than 10 minutes per day

• P.R.R.S. (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)

Embryonic development

• Full feeding after breeding

• Moving or regrouping sows after breeding (days 0 to 12)

II

Embryonic development

• Moving or regrouping sows after breeding (days 12 to 28)

III

Embryonic or fetal development

• Feed with mycotoxins (zearalenone or aflatoxin)

• Leptospirosis

• Parvovirus

Farrowing

• Lack of supplemental cooling when ambient temperature >80°F

• Average sow parities of four or greater (old sows)

• Inducing farrowing too early with prostaglandins

IV

Recovery of sow during lactation

• Reduced feed intake during summer months

• Reduced feed intake in first parity sows

Fertilization

• Poor insemination or mating management by a few technicians

• Matings late in estrus

Embryonic mortality

• Lack of supplemental cooling when ambient temperature is >80°F

V

Embryonic mortality

• Moving or regrouping a subset of sows after breeding (days 12

final step that confirms that changes in management have been effective. In essence, swine reproductive management begins and ends with evaluations of reproductive data.

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