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Drive System Productivity with Proper Gilt Selection

5 minute read

Overlooking the gilt selection process can have major financial implications for your swine production system. To avoid lost profit, increased costs and problems with pig flow and facility space, ongoing planning and strategic selection is needed for sow replacements. Without a proper selection process, short cuts are taken and gilts that should have been culled are selected to enter the herd in order to meet production targets.  Pushing poor quality gilts into sow farms exacerbates high replacement rates, poor reproductive performance and high mortality rates.  

The Right Gilts for Better Outcomes

Higher than average sow replacement rates, up to 60% on some farms, are real challenges that impact overall system productivity.  Pigs per sow per year (PSY), longevity and performance are variable traits that come directly from the gilt selection process. Non-productive days alone can cost systems up to $3.58 per day and those costs can continue to climb through each parity or the lifetime of the sow(1). Furthermore, profitability of a sow is not recognized until she’s weaned her third litter.  

Be Prepared with a Gilt Development Strategy

Whether gilts are produced internally or purchased, it’s important to plan ahead. Building a comprehensive gilt development unit strategy will prepare your system with an adequate number of the right type of gilts ready for breeding. By identifying the best gilts that can meet production standards, you can avoid the periodic gilt shortages and ensure the right animals are entering your herd. Use this simple calculation below to properly prepare for an adequate number of sow replacements: 

Remember to consider other factors when calculating the right number of replacement gilts: 

  • seasonal fertility changes 
  • aging sows 
  • gilt conception rate 
  • herd health status 
  • structural soundness of gilts and sows 
  • production gaps 

The gilt selection process should be properly managed and not taken for granted. When making selections for the future of your farm, there are multiple factors to consider.  It is important to develop comprehensive gilt selection criteria to ensure higher sow lifetime performance, increased farrowing rates and large, robust litters.   

Let’s Get Ready to Optimize Your Gilt Replacement Strategy

A successful gilt pool management strategy directly impacts sow performance and longevity. It is important to select gilts that have desirable genetic traits so you can ensure your sows are off to the right start. With over 50 years of on-farm and technical experience, we will partner with you to elevate your gilt selection process, enabling you to optimize pig performance and productivity and achieve the highest value throughput possible. 

Contact us to learn how we can collaborate on the best outcomes in your gilt development unit. 


1) https://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/farming-business-management/what-is-the-cost-of-non-productive-days-