Introduction

Reproduction in swine is an integrated process that involves many events, including achievement of puberty and normal estrous cycles, fertilization, embryonic and fetal development during pregnancy, farrowing, and recovery of the sow's reproductive system during lactation. These events must occur in a coordinated sequence or the entire process fails. Failures of these processes cannot be measured directly, but are reflected in reductions in farrowing rates (number of sows mated that produce piglets) and/or number of pigs born alive. As a result, collection and analysis of reproductive data are key components of effective reproductive management. If done correctly, it can identify problems and reproductive events that are involved, as well as suggest solutions. Thus, reproductive management in swine involves three steps: 1) recognition of low performance; 2) determination of which processes failed; and 3) identification of management practices that must be changed to correct the problem(s).

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