If you raise your pigs for meat, the idea of breeding them, either by keeping pigs or through AI breeding, has popped into your mind. After all, it is usually more economical to breed your piglets on a farm than to buy them elsewhere.
However, it can be frustrating and stressful when your sows or gilts fail to get pregnant the first, second, third or more times. While a failure to become pregnant may be a temporary one, a sow that repeatedly does not come into heat or breed can be a sign of a serious problem.
So how do you know what the issue is – and should you intervene? Here are some of the most common pig infertility problems and how you can address them.
- 1 Why are my pigs not getting pregnant?
- 2 What are the chances of pigs getting pregnant?
- 3 What to do if you have problems with Pig Infertility?
Why are my pigs not getting pregnant?
Whether it’s failure to get pregnant in the first place or miscarriages, stillbirths, or miscarriages affecting your litter, here are some of the most common causes to look out for.
There are a few different viruses that can cause infertility in pigs.
- Porcine Circovirus Type 2
- swine influenza virus
- porcine parvovirus
- Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome
There are medicines and treatments for some of these viruses but not all. To prevent them, be sure to weed any new arrivals to the farm and administer any available vaccinations.
2. Bacterial Infection
Several bacterial infections can also cause infertility in pigs. Fortunately, most of these can be treated with antibiotics and prevented with good hygiene practices. The most common bacterial agents that affect fertility include:
- e coli
- Actinobacillus Rossi
In some cases, if you are breeding AI, the semen may also be contaminated with bacteria. That’s why it’s so important to only work with a reputable breeder and follow all handling instructions.
It’s important to get your sows and gilts on a solid deworming schedule if you want to ensure healthy babies of pigs. Pigs should be dewormed regularly, whether you are using natural anthelmintics or you want to use a chemical product.
Epierythrozoonosis is the most common parasitic agent to affect fertility but it is certainly not the only one.
4. Nutritional Deficiency or Toxicity
Nutrition is another common culprit behind pig infertility.
Women should have a good body score when they are born – you don’t want them to be too fat, nor too thin. Feeding must be spot-on or sows may or may not be sufficient viable young embryo.
Pay close attention to the quality of your feed. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, vitamin B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and choline can all cause fertility problems. Selenium toxicity is another potential issue to watch for, although not as common as any other nutrient deficiency.
5. Mycotoxin Contamination
Many farmers do not think about the role of mold and fungus in pig infertility, but it is important to recognize that they can cause a serious problem. Mycotoxins, which are caused by fungi and mold, are often present in straw bedding as well as grain.
All types of animals, including animals that are not breeding, can be vulnerable to the effects of mycotoxins. However, pregnant sows face the most problems. Mycotoxins can cause stillbirth and miscarriage because they damage the placenta. Often, mycotoxins cause miscarriage even before you know your bonnie is pregnant.
Sanitation is one of the best ways to deal with this problem. Wash and dry the feed bins regularly and make sure they are completely dry before you put them in the pig barn. Do not use if the straw was baked in moist conditions and consider adding a binder to your feed, which helps absorb the dangerous mycotoxins.
6. Poor Management
Often, pigs cannot be bred because management is poor. For example, if you have a lot of pigs living in the same barn or if you practice poor handling techniques (such as moving them too close to breeding or handling them poorly).
Another common reason a sow can’t be planted is that you missed the heat cycle or did it wrong. Poor heat detection is one of the most common causes of perceived pig infertility, especially when you sow through AI breeding.
Even if you are using a boar, you should not introduce the boar unless the sow is definitely in a standing heat or a standing ostrich. Wait until your sow is hardy and doesn’t move when you load on its back. Usually, this happens on the second day of the cycle.
The duration of the service should also be highly regular, with the sow being served 2 or 3 times at an interval of 12 hours. This will ensure the biggest odds of pregnancy.
If you are using boards, try monitoring the servicing. I know, it’s not the most enjoyable way to spend your time – but it’s important to make sure breeding goes as planned as possible. Record all service activities so that you have a good idea of when your sow will become pregnant and start showing symptoms.
7. Age Issues
If your gilt hasn’t gotten pregnant yet and you’re curious as to why, it could be that she’s too young. Animals that mate before six and a half months of age are unlikely to breed first because they have not yet reached maximum ovulation.
Don’t just “feather it”, either, because gilts that are too small often don’t hold up. You will deal with them for the rest of their life with fertility problems and they will be more likely to be small or weak in the future as well.
8. Seasonal Issues
Finally, know that the weather can also play a big role in getting your pigs pregnant.
This can be problematic if you are breeding animals outside, especially if the weather is extremely hot and especially if you are breeding with pigs.
Pigs, in particular, do not like to mate when the weather is hot.
While you can’t control the weather, you should make sure your pigs always have access to drinking water. Make sure the walls and the source of the shade are adequately maintained.
What are the chances of pigs getting pregnant?
Many people believe that getting pregnant with pigs, just like humans, is quite challenging.
However, pigs are much more “fertile” than humans, which means your success rate will be higher as well. With human women, your chances of conceiving each cycle are about 25-30% (as long as you are under 35).
With pigs, the pregnancy rate is around 69-77%, depending on when in their cycle they mate.
Those are great prospects!
Of course, you have to make sure you are following all the tips for working with pigs or breeding AI. That way, you can ensure that you optimize your chances of success.
What to do if you have problems with Pig Infertility?
If your pig is not getting pregnant, I suggest looking at the list above to identify what could be the problem.
More often than not, incorrect heat cycles are to blame. Maybe you’re trying to raise a pig that’s too young or just not in good heat.
If those issues are not to blame, consider your management practices and nutrition further. These are common issues, especially among novice pig breeders. In addition, they are the easiest to address. If you’re not seeing signs of any disease, whether they’re viral, bacterial or parasitic, management issues are likely to blame.
Keep a good record of everything you do on your farm. If you need help with sowing, write it down. If a boar sows and takes it or, more importantly, doesn’t take it, write it down.
Most importantly, don’t be discouraged if your pig is struggling to get pregnant. No matter how long you’ve been in the pig business, it’s an ongoing education process—you’ll always be learning, so don’t let yourself down. Keep trying to pinpoint and address potential issues.
With any luck, you’ll have a spinning piggy bank in about 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days!
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