Using the potential of the TN70: 40 is the new 30
Knive Farm weans 36 piglets per sow and is heading for 40 weaned. The SPF farm in Norway repopulated 3 years ago with TN70 sows.
Every week several sows farrow litters with over 20 healthy piglets alive. Farm manager Bent Riis Pedersen: ‘’Never seen this before in my working career of 34 years.’’ The sow produces big uniform litters with high quality piglets.
Maximum bio security
Even when entering the office, about 100 meters away from the barn, we have to disinfect our hands and put out our shoes. ‘This last step is because we also have to clean this office ourselves,‘ Bent Riis-Pedersen explains with a smile. Nevertheless Riis-Pedersen and his colleagues take bio security very seriously. The Knive farm has the SPF status after it was repopulated following an outbreak of MRSA. It was the first pig farm in Norway and in the world that repopulated after an MRSA outbreak.
The only people allowed in the barn are Bent, his colleagues and the veterinarian. ‘And he has to comply with strict rules, as we are his only client that has pigs.’
After a clean-up period, and massive controls by the Norwegian Food Safety the farm was repopulated with TN70 sows. That was about three years ago. It was a good decision to choose the TN70. Riis-Pedersen: ‘’I have never seen a sow that is such a good mother. If they have 16 teats, which is the minimum we set, they can handle 16 piglets without getting problems with their body condition. It is amazing.’ Not only the mothering abilities make Riis-Pedersen positive about the sow. ‘They produce uniform litters with strong and robust high-quality piglets.’
The farm data underline the qualities of the TN70. In 2016, the number of piglets weaned was 35.9. The litter size was 16.3 live-born piglets and piglet mortality until weaning was just above 8%. Weaning age is 30 days. It is expected that the result at end of 2017 will be over 38 weaned piglets per sow per year.
‘We can already see that we are approaching a live-born litter of 17.5 piglets. Every week several sows farrow litters with over 20 healthy piglets alive. I never seen this before in my working career of 34 years.’ Due to the large litters we need to work with several foster sows. No artificial rearing methods are needed.
Looking to the future Riis-Pedersen sees that in 2018 they will reach the level of 40 weaned piglets per sow. ‘With the TN70 it is certainly possible to go to 40 piglets. We say 40 is the new 30.’ An important precondition for Riis-Pedersen for reaching the 40 mark is that the sow has to take care of her piglets. So no artificial rearing methods must be needed.
Backfat scan before insemination
If he is asked ‘What do you do special to get these high results?’ Riis-Pedersen answers: ‘We do nothing special in my view. We pay extra attention to the animals, but if you compare the workload now with that before we repopulated with TN70 we have less work to do.’ Of course the high health status is one of the reasons for that but the easy to use TN70 sow also contributes to that.
Nothing special it seems, but there are a few things that not every pig farmer does. First is the genetics. Knive Farm uses the latest genetics. This means consistent use the best genetics with the best breeding index. The sows are from the newest and so best generation available. They have the highest genetic potential. And other special thing is how they decide when a gilt is ready to be inseminated for the first time. Not only the weight of the animal and its age determinate if a gilt is ready.
The backfat is also considered. All gilts are scanned and if they do not have 13+ mm backfat they are not inseminated. The target weight is 150 kg (330 lbs) at an age of 225 days with this backfat thickness. ‘If we follow the Topigs Norsvin feeding guidelines then they start well prepared and are in a perfect condition for their productive life. They are ready to contribute reaching the mark of 40 piglets per sow per year.’
The Knive pig farm is located at a wonderful spot near the Norwegian town of Drammen, on a hill on the shore of a beautiful fjord. Farm manager Bent Riis-Pedersen (49) has worked for almost 29 years on this farm that is owned by Knut Langeteig. Bent and his four good colleagues take care of 600 sows and gilts at the home location. The farm requires a relatively high amount of labour, as it houses the sows on three levels in a compact building.
The weaned piglets are housed at a location five kilometres away from the sow farm and the finishers are also housed at another location. Knive Farm works with an in-house nucleus breeding programme in which it has an own herd of about 100 Norsvin Landrace sows that produce the TN70 sow.