Creating a new paradigm – lets wean on a Monday!

 

We should always be questioning the ‘wisdoms’ of our grandfathers.  Take the day of weaning for example.  It is contempory ‘wisdom’ that we wean on a Thursday (70% of the industry) or Wednesday (the majority of the rest).  The only farm’s practicing other day weaning are batching twice a week or perhaps every 10 days, but these represent only a small number of farm in Europe.

 

Why do we wean on a Thursday or Wednesday?  The primary reason is that to allow breeding to occur during the working week – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Over the last decade the advent of boar exposure and artificial insemination breeding methods have mechanised breeding.  This allows for 50 sows an hour to be mated (2 stockpeople each mating 25 sows by AI with a central stimulating boar).  This allows even large farms batch farrowing 40 sows a week to achieve their breeding targets within a couple of hours, whereas previously it would have taken all day.

Breeding was and is the main stay of a pig farm.  It is essential to breed sufficient females to achieve the required pig flow.  Breeding was rightly placed as the top priority of the farm’s week.  But if we accept that successful breeding can be achieved within an hour’s work, other areas of the farm can rise up the priority listing.

 

The case for Monday weaning

Farrowing – maximizing pigs alive by day five

If the weaning day occurs on a Monday, 119 days later (4 day wean to service and 115 days gestation) we are back at Monday.   Allowing the breeding period this means the bulk of the farrowing will occur during the working week.  This allows for maximum farrowing house stockmanship.  Perhaps even shift working would be feasible say working 5am to 3pm and 11am to 9pm, thus reducing stillbirths; enhancing colostrum intake and pre-weaning mortality.  Fewer sows would need to be induced to farrow using prostaglandins, reducing the number of premature births and maximizing piglet birth weights.

Weaners – getting them to eat

Currently when we wean on a Thursday the first 3 days of care occur over the weekend.  On too many farms the weaners are not provide with the attention to detail required to ensure that they eat sufficiently.  Weaners in the first 3 days post-weaning should eat 300g a day at least.  The weaner’s future growth performance can be predicted by their feed intake in that vital first week post-weaning.  Comparing weaners not eating to those eating 250g a day for the first week, pig weaners who eat finish 10 days earlier – a small fortune.  When we wean on a Monday, the weaners are given the whole week of normal stockmanship time to maximise their survivability and growth potential.

Breeding – maximizing total born

Weaning on a Monday, results in breeding over the weekend – Friday to Sunday.  But this allows the AI stud to provide freshest semen possible for breeding.


Summary of the events of the week depending on the day of weaning

Red is the weekend.  Green is mid week – Tuesday to Thursday.  White is Monday and Friday – relatively busy days

Wean on:

Breeding

Farrowing

Weaning critical days

Sunday

Thursday

Saturday

Sunday

Wednesday

Sunday

Wednesday

Monday

Friday

Sunday

Monday

Thursday

Monday

Thursday

Tuesday

Saturday

Monday

Tuesday

Friday

Tuesday

Friday

Wednesday

Sunday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Saturday

Wednesday

Saturday

Thursday

Monday

Wednesday

Thursday

Sunday

Thursday

Sunday

Friday

Tuesday

Thursday

Friday

Monday

Friday

Monday

Saturday

Wednesday

Friday

Saturday

Tuesday

Saturday

Tuesday

This assumes a range of gestation lengths of 115 to 16 days and wean to service interval of 4 to 6 days

Critical period post-weaning 3 days

 

How do I change my paradigm?

 

 

The above figure can be changes to your own farm situation – for example if your gestation length is different follow this link