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Research article2007Peer reviewed

Sow removal in Swedish commercial herds

Engblom L, Lundeheim N, Dalin AM, Andersson K


The objective of this study was to describe the sow removal pattern in Swedish commercial piglet producing herds, with group-housing of non-lactating sows. The data collection, based on a PC herd monitoring program used in 21 piglet producing herds in the south-central part of Sweden, was prospective, started in 2002 and continued for 3 years. During this period, information on 14234 removed sows was recorded. For all parameters studied a large variation between herds was found. The average annual removal rate was 49.5% (range 33.6-66.3%). Among the removed sows, 85.2% were sent to slaughter, 10.5% were euthanised and 4.3% were found dead. The most common removal reasons were 'reproductive disorders' (26.9%), 'old age' (18.7%) and 'udder problems' (18.1%), followed by 'low productivity' (9.5%), 'lameness and/or foot lesions' (8.6%) and 'traumatic injuries' (7.1%). The proportion of sows sent to slaughter was higher than the proportion euthanised for all categories of removal except 'traumatic injuries' (in which 81.6% of the sows were euthanised). The average parity number at removal for all sows was 4.4. Lowest average parity numbers were found for sows removed due to 'traumatic injuries' (2.6). Among removed sows, the proportion removed per parity decreased up to parity 6. Sows removed due to 'old age' had the highest piglet production, while sows removed due to reproductive disorders had the highest number of non-productive days (NPD) per parity and the longest interval from last farrowing to removal. With increasing removal parity number, the number of piglets produced increased and NPD decreased. In lower parities (1-3) most sows were removed due to 'reproductive disorders', but this proportion fell as parity number rose. Removals due to 'udder problems' were most frequent in medium parity numbers (4-6). Most sows removed after parity 7 were removed due to old age. The proportion of the sows found dead was highest just after farrowing; otherwise only a low percentage of sows were removed during the lactation period. The proportion of euthanised sows was high in the week after farrowing and during the 4-week period following weaning. The proportion of sows sent to slaughter increased considerably 4 weeks after farrowing (i.e. after weaning) and stayed high during the subsequent 3 weeks. The study revealed a considerable amount of unplanned removal of young sows. Not only the sows sent to slaughter, but also those euthanised and found dead, must be included in studies on sow removal. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Published in

Livestock Science
2007, Volume: 106, number: 1, pages: 76-86