Home > Pork CRC - Battling Birth Weights and Priming Piglets

Pork CRC - Battling Birth Weights and Priming Piglets

Supplier News

by Rob Smits, Leader, Pork CRC sub-program 2D    

Reproduction is well represented within the Pork CRC, with approximately $2.6 million worth of funding to date.

Key project areas are addressing shortfalls in litter size, numbers weaned or sow lifetime performance and productive efficiency.

These Pork CRC projects have been instrumental in raising our understanding of where our potential capacity is and what limits more pigs being weaned and sold.

The completed project by Drs Trish Holyoake and Yvette Miller on why gilt progeny are more at risk of poor growth and loss than sow progeny concluded that the combination of lower birth weight, piglet colostrum and milk intake and the ability to transfer immunoglobulins in gilts were the major risk factors associated with a 4 kg shortfall in sale weight. Ways to increase birth weight and segregation of gilt progeny to better manage post-weaning health are production outcomes.

Commercial Evaluation

The research and commercial evaluation from the sow longevity project continues, with Dr Rob van Barneveld and Robert Hewitt of CHM Alliance reporting that reducing the suckling demands on first litter sows improves weaning weight and subsequent sow fertility by more than 0.5 piglet and an extra 10 sows retained to parity 2 per 100 gilts farrowed.

Further studies at QAF are evaluating the amino acid requirements for maximum lactation and subsequent sow productivity in gilts to complement the energy requirements previously studied.

Fruitful Projects

Several seasonal infertility projects are coming to fruition for the Pork CRC and industry. Using dietary betaine during gestation is being commercially evaluated at Australian Pork Farms at Wasley’s and QAF Huntly over summer to improve farrowing rates and litter size, supervised by Dr Will van Wettere, University of Adelaide.

CHM Farms are also evaluating a technology implemented just before embryo implantation as another method to reduce the impact of seasonal infertility, supervised by Sean O’Leary, University of Adelaide. Both projects have finished their pilot studies, with clear benefits to producers if the results can be repeated under field conditions.

New Direction

While these projects will continue to deliver commercial outcomes, new research direction in reproduction will focus on improving neonatal piglet health and sow milk production to produce more piglets to weaning.

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