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BREEDS OF PIGS, SELECTION OF BREEDING STOCK AND PIG BREEDING
Pigs are one of the most domesticated animal in human history and there is a relative increase as the day goes by, human population is on the increase and thus bringing about a great demand for animal protein, Pigs are of different types and Breeds, their productivity, growth and over well performances are often times a result of the kind of breed they are, today, we will be looking at some of the Pig Breeds we have across the world.
Large White (Yorkshire)
This breed is originated from Britain. Yorkshires are the most recorded breed in the United States and Canada. They are white with erect hears and of appreciable body length. The pig thrives well underconfinement conditions. It is best known for its large litter size and mothering ability. It is a docile tractable breed. Being one of the largest breeds, the gain are somewhat slower compared with other breeds. Thecarcasses are of excellent qualities.
The Chester White breed is known for its mothering ability, durability, and structural soundness. For many years, Chester Whites have been popular with pork producers because of their extreme longevity. Packers prefer Chester Whites because of their white colored skin is easily removed during the harvesting process.
The Berkshire breed has long been known for its efficiency in gaining weight. The meat quality of the Berkshire is unique because it has a greater proportion of lean meat intermixed with streaks of fat. This intramuscular fat gives more marbling in comparison to other breeds. Like all the swine breeds that end in ‘shire’, Berkshires have erect ears. In fact, the word ’shire’ means erect. The Berkshire breed standard requires a pig to have a color pattern consisting of only black and white hairs. The white points must appear on the nose, feet, and tail.
These white points can be missing and any additional white points may appear on the body of the
The Hereford breed originated in the 1900.s when aswine breeder crossed a Duroc, Chester White, and Poland.The Hereford breed was developed for its type, color, conformation, and superior feeding
qualities. The Hereford breed standard requires a white face, and no less than two thirds of the pig’s body to bered, exclusive of the face, ears, and at least two white feet. The white hair above the white feet must be extended at least one inch above the hoof. Hereford hogs are known for having a long neck, moderate jowl, medium sized floppy ears, and a medium length face.
The Pietrain breed originated from Belgium in the 1950.s and was later exported to other countries. Pietrains are moderate in size, have black spots with white pigmented hair around the black spots, and have moderately erect ears. Pietrains have shorter legs than most breeds, are low fronted, stockier in build, and are extremely heavy muscled. This breed’s popularity has been up and down depending on market trends. Pietrains are known for having extremely high lean to fat ratios, with percent lean calculations in the high sixty percent range. Pietrains possess doubled muscled or bulging ham shape. They have poorer mothering ability and lower milk production than other breeds.
Spots are known for being fast growers, with good feed efficiency, and high quality carcasses. Spots are popular among commercial hog farmers for producing fast growing crossbred offspring.
They are white and possess large floppy ears and longest body compared with any other breed. They have largelitter size and very good mothering ability. The flesh is excellent for making bacon.
They are sound and vigorous, very fast growing andprofitable in production under varying production practices. The pigs are red and have short dropping ears and arched back. They are considered to be very good meat hogs.
They are medium size, black pig with a distinct white belt around the shoulders including the forelegs. They have high prolificacy and high survival rate of the piglets.
They are small in size with a long snout. The pig has back swept ears and a straight tails. The most common colours are brown with black patches, brown, black, and black with gray or white patches.They are characterized by stunted growth, poor reproductive performance of average of about three piglets. They are very hardy and have sharp feet.
The large black breed is a British breed. The pig has long well proportional with a good reputation for ham and bacon production. It is a long, black pigs with lop ears and is considered a good grazer and mothers. Growth rate tends to be slow and carcasses are relatively fat.
Tamworth hogs originated in England and are known for being a bacon type hog. Tamworths are thrifty, rugged, and deep sided hogs with a long neck, long legs, and a long nose. Tamworth females
make good mothers in spite of the fact that they lack body depth. Tamworth hogs typically walk and stand with an arch in their back and they have medium sized erect ears. This breed should be golden red to dark red in colour, with straight hair.
Selecting Your Breeding Stock
The selection of the correct health status appropriate to your herd and location is vital before a breeding stock is purchased. The primary reason for purchase is to genetically upgrade your herd. Major requirements will be that they are available when you want them, in the numbers that are needed and at a price you can afford. But an overriding requirement is that they will not cause disease in your herd and lower your overall health status. At the onset therefore, consult with your veterinarian and ask him to determine at a veterinary level the information available about the proposed herd. The investigations should include the disease history since its inception and those of any daughter herds that have been established from it. Also the health status and disease history of other herds it supplies. All veterinary reports should be requested and examined together with the results of tests for specific diseases and the frequency of such tests. The breeding history on the farm should be checked together with any evidence of infectious reproductive disease. A detailed study of records of production parameters, growth and food conversion rates may behelpful. The biosecurity of the breeding pyramid should be checked along with details of the health programme. The bio-security of the herd itself mustbe assessed including the methods by which pigs or genetic materials are brought into the herd. Finally a written veterinary statement should be obtained indicating that on both clinical and pathological grounds those selected diseases that you wish to keep out of your herd have not been diagnosed in the donor herd.
Buying breeding herd – The ground rules
Step 1- Select the source based on:
• Genetics (including fecundity).
• Market acceptability.
• Quality control.
Step 2- Determine with your veterinary advisor the health status of your own herd.
Step 3- Request veterinary liaison with the suppliers’ veterinarian and get clarification of the health
status of the donor herd.
Step 4- Assess the compatibility of health status.
Step 5 – Determine the isolation requirements for incomingstock.
Step 6 – Decide on vaccination and acclimatisation procedures.
The donor herd
The suppliers may want to know the health status you require and offer you a choice of sources.
Always purchase from a DHHS herd or equivalent if available.
What are the methods and risks of pig movement since incoming pigs are probably the greatest potential source of infection to your herd, the methods by which they are introduced or other methods
by which you improve the genetic potential of your herd are vitally important.
Five methods suffice:
1. By introducing live pigs.
2. By segregated early weaning SEW.
3. By hysterectomy.
4. By embryo transplants.
5. By artificial insemination (AI)
a) Mature gilts and boars
Live pigs can be brought into your herd from a source herd of matching health status, or through SEW or hysterectomy and fostering if the source herd isof known but lower health status (depending on the disease to be eliminated). If live pigs are brought into your herd with or without SEW it is advisable to hold them in isolation for a period before integrating them into your herd to check whether they develop disease and whether disease breaks out in the source herd. If the isolation premises are in a different site to your herd and not of the same biosecurity standards as your recipient herd, there could be a greater risk in holdingthem there rather than integrating them directly into your herd. The dangers of integrating them directly into your herd are obvious, namely, that if they are incubating an infectious disease sub-clinically then ultimately your herd will become infected. Perfect separate quarantine facilities are rarely availableto commercial herds, particularly smaller enterprises but isolation that falls short of complete quarantine (e.g. on the same site) can be surprisingly effective. The incoming stock could be moved into a separate building on the same site preferably over 50 metres distant and this should be reasonably effective, provided separate boots and coveralls are used to tend the animals and provided the drainage from the building does not flow into your other pig buildings.If a separate building is not possible then a separate room sealed off from the main body of the herd is better than direct integration into the herd. How long should the incubation period be? Here the importance of veterinarian liaison to match respective health status has already been highlighted. If your herd is believed to be enzootic pneumonia (EP) free then it is advisable to place the incominganimals in isolation for a period of eight weeks. At the same time sentinel pigs (i.e. pigs from your herd due for slaughter) should be moved in and blood tested and / or slaughtered prior to the entry of thenew pigs and their lungs examined for EP freedom. If your herd is not free of EP, the length of isolation is debatable. Some veterinarians would advise six weeks but four is more practicable. Should enteric or respiratory disease appear during the four week period either in the pigs in isolation or in the source herd the chances of preventing further damage by immediate slaughter would be reasonable.
b) Breeder weaners
Instead of buying in mature replacement gilts and boars you could buy in so-called breeder- weaners, say, 30kg live weight. This has the advantage of allowing them a long period of acclimatisation to your herd before you breed them. It also enables you to rear them yourself in the way you think best for future breeding gilts and allows you to carry out your own selection at slaughter weight. A disadvantage is that boars cannot be performance tested and therefore it is not feasible. Also, if you sell your pigs at 25-30kg or at weaning, you probably do not have the facilities to rear such pigs. The advantages of buying in breeding stock at a commercial level, compared to the selection of the home produced gilt are its low cost, the availability of gilts when they are required, the genetic potential is constantly improved and if done carefully presents few problems. Some farms however prefer to breed their own breeding females and thereby only introduce into the herd, a small proportion of grandparent females and boars.This policy often fails because of the difficulty of rearing the future female replacements within a commercial operation, the poorer reproductive performance and the fact that the gilts reared on the farm are often not available when required. This system is also a high cost one and often results in lower numbers of pigs reared. Extensive experiences have shown that provided there isgood health liaison and sensible practical procedures then the herd health status can be maintained with the purchase of breeding stock.
Segregated early weaning (SEW) – Modified Medicated Early Weaning (MMEW)
The second method of bringing in live pigs from another herd is through a modification of the medicated early weaning (MEW) technique called by many segregated early weaning (SEW) and by one breeding company Isowean. This is based on the principle outlined earlier under “How infectious agents are spread”. By the time females reach their first farrowing they have developed a strong immunity to the more serious enzootic pathogens in the herd and have eliminated most of them. Furthermore they pass such a strong maternal immunity to their offspring that the piglets are resistant to infection by most of these pathogens for varying periods depending on the pathogen. Thus if they are weaned immediately from the sow and moved to isolated premises at the appropriate age they will be free of the pathogensyou wish to eliminate. Thus if you wished to obtain future breeding stock from a particular herd but your veterinarian thought that the general health of that herd was below thatof your own you could obtain higher health status pigs free from the unwanted pathogen. If the pathogen you wished to avoid was Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae,(enzootic pneumonia), you could vaccinate the damsin the donor herd ahead of time to boost their immunity, put the sows and newborn piglets on an anti-mycoplasma medicine such as tylosin or tiamulin and wean the pigs at ten days to the isolation facility on your farm. Isolation isnecessary because if an unknown pathogen enters thedonor herd it could go through the SEW system during the incubation period.
Hysterectomy and fostering
The fourth method of introduction of live pigs is through hysterectomy and fostering the piglets onto a newly farrowed sow in the recipient herd. This operation is carried out on day 113 of pregnancy when the sow is slaughtered. The womb containing the piglets is either removed 50 meters away to a pigpathogen-free environment where the piglets are removed or it is passed through disinfectant trap into a sealed room. The litter is then immediately takeninto the recipient herd and suckled onto a newly farrowed sow. If done properly the mortality rate is as low similar to that of your naturally farrowedpiglets.
The whole operation is synchronised using prostaglandins so that newly farrowed sows are available to act as foster mothers. Ideally the sow selected for the operation should be moved into isolationapproximately eight weeks prior to the due date andmonitored for evidence of disease. At the same time it should be blood sampled and tested for aujeszky’s disease (AD) (pseudorabies), swineinfluenza, PRRS and other relevant diseases that could pass through the placental barrier including leptospirosis and brucellosis. The reason for bloodtesting for these diseases is that they are capable of passing from a recently infected mother to her piglets in the womb. This is most unlikely to happen with aujeszky’s virus and PRRS if they are obviously immune, but it could happen with Leptospira bratislavaand possibly L. pomona. If a sow is serologically positive for leptospira the risk can be diminished by treating her with either streptomycinor amoxycillin antibiotics prior to hysterectomy. If a sow is sero-positive for brucellosis it is better to discard her. It would appear also that porcine coronavirus does not cross the placenta and hysterectomy pigs from positive herds can be introduced into negative herds safely. Hysterectomy is a safe procedure and in many hundreds of operations known to the authors there has been no evidence of transfer of disease.
Embryo transfer has been used successfully in several countries for the introduction of new genes but it has not been widely adopted probably because it requires two skilled teams, one to flush the fertilised eggs from the donor sow and one to insert them in the recipient sow. It has not been performed on anything like as big a scale as hysterectomy and fostering and therefore there is not the volume of field evidence to underline its safety, but in theory andon the limited evidence it is safe.
Its drawbacks are:
(1) It needs two skilled teams,
(2) It requires immaculate synchronisation and timing,
(3) The embryos cannot be kept viable for more thana few hours and
(4) Unless done expertly, it results in a high failure rate and small litters.
Note: For practical purposes, SEW, hysterectomy and AI are much simpler.
The sixth method of introducing genes is by artificial insemination (AI). It is known that viruses of swine fever, aujeszky’s disease, PRRS, parvovirus, and leptospira bacteria and Brucella suiscould be introduced through AI mainly during the early stages of infection of the boar. If the boars first go thorough a true quarantine procedure and are screened for these infections then housed in an isolated AI stud (i.e. one in a secure location), with high standards of biosecurity and hygiene during the production of semen, then field experience indicates that the risks are very small. The advent of frozen semen, which hitherto has been largely unsatisfactory but which is now looking more promising, renders the use of AI much safer since the semen can be stored for a month or two, time enough to be sure that no new infection was incubating in the AIstud. AI does however, have the disadvantage that only half the genes are introduced into the herd.
PIG BREEDING AND FARROWING
One of the most important aspects of pig productionis getting young piglets off to a good start. For this reason it is essential that the management and stockmanship of a farm is maintained at the highest possible standards. The pictures below illustrate some of the critical operations required to achieve this. The young piglets shortly after birth need to be kept at a temperature close to 30 degrees centigrade and are kept warm under an infra red lamp. Bedding also helps to keep them warm and create their own microenvironment. Notice how the piglets huddletogether, this is a natural form of behaviour.
The crate that the mother pig (sow) lives in for the first few weeks of the piglets’ life prevents the sow rollingover and crushing the young piglets to death. For the first two or three days piglets are vulnerable as they weigh just over a kilo compared with the sow after the first two days of life, piglets have their own teatlet that they suckle from. A good sow will have 14 functional teats. Milk yield tends to be higher at the front of the udder compared with the back. Piglets are normally weaned at around 4 weeks of age which is an optimum time for both the welfare of the sow and the piglets. After weaning the sow dries off. Sows normally come on heat (exhibit oestrous) within a week. They are then mated either naturally with a boar or with artificial insemination (AI) or with a combination of both. At feeding time sows can either collect feed automatically from a feeder or they can be fed on an individual basis as in the picture. The individual feeder allows the sow to eat without interference and stress from her pen mates and provides the farmer with a good opportunity to check her health. The farmer may also check whether the sows are pregnant using the ultrasonic microphone as illustrated.
Five Easy Steps on How to Correctly and Properly Breed
Why are pigs one of the most ideal animals to breed? Why do farmers include pigs in their list of animals to breed for money and business? This is because breeding pigs doesn’t take up to much time and pigs are capable of producing large litters. They would only require a few boars or male pigs to matewith many sows or female pigs. If you’re interested in breeding pigs for business and would like to care for pigs correctly and properly breed pigs:
1. Remember that you don’t have to buy too many boars to breed. You can just ideally a year in age, and have him breed with about 30 to 50 sows that are either housed in stalls orina large pasture.
2. Always begin your breeding business with research. You need to know who to go to in order to buy the best boars for breeding plus the best and most fertile sows that can produce large litters that are not only healthy but that have the best qualities. You can either browse through the yellow pages for names of pig breeders or visit and get referrals from well-known stores that sell pigs and pig feeds.
3. When breeding pigs, select sows that are at least 9 to 10 months old as this is the ideal age for breeding. For the boars, you can either buy them when they’re at least 8 months old if you have a small number of sows then breed them with a larger numberas they grow older. Again, the older the boars are, the larger the number they can mate with.
4. Sows need to undergo physical check-ups to make sure that they have no infections or health problems that could produce problematic litters. You should also perform these check-ups to see if the sows are ready to mate. For instance, to check if the sow is ready, look at the vulva and see if it is swelling as this indicates the start of its fertility period. Young sows can be bred on their first day of fertility while older ones can begin on the next day after checking.
5. In breeding pigs, gestation lasts for about 113 days, so breed the pigs during their fertility periods until pregnancy has been successfully achieved.