How do you teach a breeding gilt to be a good mother, becoming a strong, sustainable sow in the longer term?
That’s the autumn research challenge being addressed at the Swine Innovation Centre (SIC) at Sterksel in the Netherlands, with the subject having been chosen as a result of proposals from the country’s commercial producers.
“Often in conversations I notice that pig keepers and industry advisors have difficulty to letting go of their old ways of thinking and working on something new,” said SIC’s manager, Theo Duteweerd (pictured above), adding that the centre’s “teaching a gilt” project is definitely in the new category.
“On most farms, gilts are rarely taught anything before they become a sow. The question is, therefore, how can a breeding gilt know how to be a good mother, when she has never been taught?”
In seeking to answer the question this autumn, Mr Duteweerd said his research team will need to “think outside the box” while considering all the facets of good mothering qualities.
“Happily, this is not a one-man-show,” he added. “The business community has shown great interest in this topic and foresees potential benefits for pig keepers.
“We are therefore planning to involve the experience and knowledge of seasoned pig keepers in this project, plus the possibility of some on-farm testing. We’re also planning for an inspiring autumn.”
The gilt education project was one of several ideas put forward by producers in response to a call from SIC for farmers to help devise their own research and development future.