Tips to improve labor efficiency in the sow barn

Iris van den Broek is Breeding Program Manager for the Topigs Norsvin Global Technical Services Department. Breeding Program Managers implement, control, and monitor breeding program activities worldwide. They also provide recommendations and suggestions for improving the breeding program.

Several different factors can influence labor efficiency in the sow barn. These factors cover various aspects, ranging from choosing the right genetics and good biosecurity, to having a good rearing and feeding management and working with new technologies.

Tips to improve labor efficiency in the sow barn:

  1. One of the most important factors for high labor efficiency is the health status of the animals. With a good biosecurity protocol and high health status, you minimize infections, which means you spend less time giving treatments or vaccinations.
  2. Rearing management and adequate boar exposure influence the heat of a gilt. By following the recommendations, less time is spent on the insemination process, as the heat can be regulated and detected more easily.
  3. Feed management during gestation as well as lactation have a considerable influence on oocyte quality, embryo development, and piglet quality. Therefore a good feeding management in the sow barn, results in uniform, high-birth weight piglets, which perform well later in life and demand less extra labor up to rearing.
  4. By choosing the right genetics, labor efficiency can be increased. Using sows capable of raising their own piglets without much help from caretakers can save a lot of labor. TN70 sows have enough teats for all the piglets, and the sows have a high milk production. All of this results in less need for cross-fostering of piglets, usage of foster sows, and creep feeding.
  5. Labor efficiency can be improved by implementing new technologies, like electronic ear tags, QR codes on a sow card, and the usage of a handheld in the barn. These all speed up the process of entering data into and accessing data from your farm management system. It also leads to less time-consuming errors in data.

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