Over time in the pork industry, there has been an increase in sow mortality with little to no explanation. With this trend in mind, sow health should be more of a priority than ever before.
According to sow records kept by the Swine Management System (SMS), sow mortality has increased by about half a percent per year.
“If you look at a chart of pigs born and overlap it with sow death loss, both keep trending up,” says Shelly Tiede, Senior Swine Nutritionist for Ralco Swine Nutrition. “And I think a lot of is because we've got highly prolific sows, and we keep pushing and pushing these sows, but something's got to give, and that’s been the sow death loss.”
On top of the increasing death rate, in the 2018 Pelvic Organ Prolapse project (POP) conducted by the Iowa Pork Improvement Center, when specifically studying prolapses, another statistic came to the surface – 39% of all recorded sow deaths were from unknown causes.
Though the root is hard to pin down, there are ways in which producers can boost the health of their sow herd to ward off death loss through management practices.
Body Condition of Sows is Key
Tiede explains that keeping sows in ideal body condition is critical in prolonging sow health and productivity. “If she's not in very good body condition when she goes into farrowing, it only gets worse when she’s put to work having babies and lactating. If she gets too thin and rundown, she’s more prone to disease and health problems.”
Similarly, if you have an overweight sow heading into farrowing, she typically does not eat well in lactation and the same thing happens. She will get rundown and exposed to health issues as well.
Keep a Close Eye on Sow Diets
The Pelvic Organ Prolapse Project (POP) also found that 29% of sow mortality came from lame/injured/downer sows.
Sows can become lame and have an increase of injury without proper formulated rations. Closely monitoring calcium to phosphorus ratio in the diet and focusing on minerals for foot health is a top priority to help reduce sow mortality.
Add in Supplements
An easy way to boost the health of your sow herd is to add supplements, such as Ralco’s Dual Defender™ and ReganoEX®. These dry products are specially formulated with prebiotic fiber plus custom essential oils to support good gut health and improve immune system efficiency in sows.
Let the team at Ralco help build a custom recommendation for your farm. Our swine experts and nutritionists develop tools using essential oils and prebiotics and nutrition programs that can be customized to help improve the health of your pigs in many situations.
Swine producers working with Ralco typically see:
Less outbreaks and severity
Reduced antibiotic use
Overall higher health status of animals
Less fall-behind animals