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Management of Dry Sows

The dry period is the time interval from weaning to service wherein the sow is unproductive. Careful management of sows during pregnancy and lactation, and from weaning to mating, contributes to getting sows mated as soon as possible after weaning.

A good sow should come into heat and be ready for service within 3 to 7 days after weaning, and in order to achieve this it is important that the following points be given attention:
  1. Always keep the sow in good health and body condition. A sow in good health and body condition comes into heat earlier. Pay attention to the sow’s condition during lactation period. It is in this period where the sow loses body weight.
  2. Keep the lactation period not longer than six weeks. Sows kept on lactation period longer than six weeks tend to have a longer dry period.
  3. Do not feed the sow on the day of weaning. Withholding feeds is a form of stress to the sow which can bring early occurrence of heat. Withholding water in areas with high environmental temperature is not advisable. It is possible to reduce or limit water intake of the newly weaned sows.
  4. Expose weaned sows to the boar. Exposure of the sow to the boar influences the occurrence of heat. It is advisable that pens or feeding-lying boxes/stall of dry sows be made closer tot he boar pen. A teaser boar is suggested to be penned for the detection of heat and influence the early occurrence of heat.
  5. Hormone injection can be used as last resort to induce heat occurrence if sows does not come into heat 10-12 days after weaning
  6. Old sows of parity eight and above tend to have longer dry periods.
  7. Keep sows as cool as possible during summer. Heat stress has a negative effect on the onset of estrus.
  8. Check dry sows for heat occurrence twice a day. Failure to detect heat lengthens the over-all farm average of weaning-to-service period. Checking can be easily done at feeding time. Back pressure test can be done to the sow and/or use a teaser boars.
  9. Observe the right timing of breeding. Most production problems in sows like low conception rate and poor litter size can be attributed to incorrect timing of insemination.
  10. Breed only good sows, and cull bad sows immediately.
  11. After weaning, it is advisable to let the newly-weaned sows roam around in a paddock. The pen must measure 2.0 m2 per head. The excitement of contact with the other sows in group housing has a positive influence on heat occurrence.
  12. Provide adequate shade during summer months for the breeding herd if the sows are penned in the paddocks.
  13. Arrange housing and feeding facilities to ensure maximum exercise.
  14. Intermittent spray cooling during hot weather makes the living condition more comfortable for sows.
  15. Clean and disinfect the sow pen.

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