Understanding sow longevity and mortality

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Karriker, Locke
Morrill Professor
Johnson, Anna
Professor Animal Behavior and Welfare
Stalder, Kenneth
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
The mission of VDPAM is to educate current and future food animal veterinarians, population medicine scientists and stakeholders by increasing our understanding of issues that impact the health, productivity and well-being of food and fiber producing animals; developing innovative solutions for animal health and food safety; and providing the highest quality, most comprehensive clinical practice and diagnostic services. Our department is made up of highly trained specialists who span a wide range of veterinary disciplines and species interests. We have faculty of all ranks with expertise in diagnostics, medicine, surgery, pathology, microbiology, epidemiology, public health, and production medicine. Most have earned certification from specialty boards. Dozens of additional scientists and laboratory technicians support the research and service components of our department.
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Pork production profit margins continue to have downward pressure in the US and worldwide. In order to remain competitive in a global market place, US commercial pork production systems continue to focus on efficiency. Over the past two decades, consumer demand for lean pork products has resulted in the buying systems of many pork processors to place a great deal of financial reward for carcass leanness and muscling. The way that sows are housed during gestation and lactation has moved towards more intensive systems so that sows can be more easily managed and production maximized. However, that too is changing with housing legislation in many European countries and with recent marketing strategies in the US At a minimum, some of these factors have contributed to a decline in the productive life of sows in commercial pork production systems. Table 1 shows the reported common reasons that sows leave the breeding herd while Table 2 shows the average parity at which sows are culled from several studies. A sow remaining in the breeding herd for fewer parities is likely to produce fewer pigs in her lifetime, compared to a sow that remains in the breeding herd for a longer period of time. This reduces the opportunity of a sow to be sufficiently productive (pigs weaned and sold per lifetime) to achieve a return on the replacement gilt investment cost.


This proceeding was published as Stalder, K. J., A. K. Johnson, and L. A. Karriker. 2008. Understanding sow longevity and mortality. Proc. Amer. Assoc. Swine Vet. Ann. Conf. San Diego, CA. March, 2008. pp. 531-538.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2008