Pig farming is a complex industry. Small changes can often make a big difference to long-term profitability. One such change is to split boars and gilts into same-sex finishing pens. Research points to a number of benefits, from less aggression to more uniform weight gain. We summarise the benefits below.
Boys will be boys, as they say. Although apparently not when boars are separated from gilts. Both sexes show less in-group aggression (with less fighting) in same-sex finishing pens. (This is particularly important if boars have not been castrated or vaccinated with Improvac.) The end result is that all animals have a greater chance of being healthy, injury-free and growing efficiently.
Less competition for food
Boars and gilts have different eating habits and utilise feed in different ways. Splitting the sexes allows you to monitor feed more efficiently and competition for feed among groups also decreases.
Boars and gilts grow at different rates. Splitting them has a number of benefits, starting with more uniform weight gains and less variation within each group. That means you spend less time sorting and re-grouping pigs at the point of sale and less time wheedling out anomalies. It also makes it easier to identify the pigs that meet specific bands of carcase specifications. All of which offers you a marketable competitive advantage.
Where does the data come from?
The benefits outlined above are based on in-depth research from pig breeding company Hermitage Genetics. More than 5,500 pigs pass through their testing facilities every year. Pigs are sorted into pen and feed stations, each capable of holding fifteen pigs. Every pig in each group is tagged with a unique-coded ear tag transponder, which logs data on feed station visits. Pigs are monitored for a minimum of 40 days. You can see the full results here.
For further information please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd., Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible) AH080/16
Nigel Lodge was brought up in Scotland and graduated from Edinburgh. He has gradually moved south and is now based near Cambridge.
After 2 years in mixed practices, Nigel decided to specialise and spent 15 years in the poultry industry (with a primary breeder and as a partner in a major UK practice). He then broadened his experience to pigs and for the past 16 years has specialised in pig production via the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently National Veterinary Manager for pigs with Zoetis and has been involved with various industry societies over the years.
Nigel has always had a keen interest in animal welfare – very relevant to his current focus on Improvac and its potential for improving both welfare and meat quality in UK pig production.
Nigel enjoys sailing and golf but can see those activities taking a back seat when his first grandchild arrives this year.