Interview source: Tim Safranski, Swine Breeding Specialist, University of Missouri
Instead of buying piglets, have a female impregnated to your breeding standards.
Tim Safranski is a swine breeding specialist at the University of Missouri. He says today, nearly 95-percent of the nation's sows are impregnated by artificial insemination. One of the reasons is health issues.
"If we look at having a boar on the farm for every 20-or-30 sows versus bringing in a boar to mate 150 sows, or only bringing in semen, we just reduced the risk of introducing disease a lot," says Safranski. Of course one of the big factors that drove the research that led to the development of the technique was genetics, and the ability to use those best boars to sire more pigs."
To produce replacement gilts, Safranski says you'll want maternal-line semen. For market pigs, you'll want the genetics of a boar that favors growth and feed efficiency. There are boar studs available around the country that can match a customer's needs, even for rare pig breeds. Semen is sold by the dose starting at $5. It can be as high as several hundred dollars per dose for show pigs.
The biggest challenge getting a pig pregnant is the timing.
"The animal that's easiest to predict when estrus will occur is a sow that's just weaned a litter, and particularly if we're weaning less than four-weeks of lactation because we expect those sows to come into heat in 4-7 days," says Safranski. "But that means you have to have had her bred once for her to have had that litter so that first one's a real challenge."
Safranski says you can synchronize estrus with hormone treatments. Heat-check the female by allowing a mature boar to have a few minutes of direct contact. If she's ready, she'll show signs.
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