Batch Farrowing Place

How many sows should I breed this batch?


The farrowing places per batch makes it easy to determine what the minimum number of females (sows and gilts) that will be required to be mated.  Note the word is minimum to satisfy the farrowing rate %.


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Thus: on a typical family farm of 10 farrowing per batch – if this was a weekly batch this is equivalent to around a 250 sow unit.  The farm should mate at least 12 a batch (week) as minimum.  Expecting the farrowing rate to never be below 91% is very unlikely, therefore only mating 11 or less, is going to end up with an empty farrowing place. On this farm the farrowing rate (on average) will be 87% - the midpoint between 91 and 84.  It cannot change.  If the farrowing rate falls below 84% - in the summer for example, the farm needs to mate a minimum of 13 a batch (week).


With a larger batch the farrowing rate has more impact over the absolute number of minimum sows required.  Thus for a family farm practicing 3 week batching – the same 250 sow unit, now farrows 30 sows a batch.  This can allow for some cost control of sow numbers as slightly fewer sows are required if you can maintain your farrowing rate.  Note with 84% the number is still 36 (12*3) and this would still be the optimal minimum number of sows to breed per batch.


This aspect is very important to grasp as much is written regarding improving the farrowing rate and the efforts required to do this.  But will this have any impact on your farm – you need to look at this carefully as most of the pig industry aiming to farm above 90% farrowing rates is just not practical. The sow is not what matters - it is filling the farrowing place and selling pork!


The farrowing rate is only important to help the farm fill the farrowing places.  It is not a payment point – nobody thanks you for a 95% farrowing rate but insufficient pigs sold.