Key points to successful service management


Successful service house management is dependent on how well the sow is managed throughout her previous pregnancy and lactation




Feed a high fibre dry sow diet – do not over feed in pregnancy follow agreed feed curve


Make sure there is a regular cleaning policy for feed bins and feed lines- mycotoxin and yeast build up in feed lines can cause fertility problems


Scan sows 28 5o 35 days post-service to confirm pregnancy


Record keeping: ensure every sow has a sow card, without correct measurements there are no way to make positive improvements.  The use of a white board to record batch production each quarter is a useful tool for both staff and management   - helps to keep everyone focused.



Feed sows on specific lactating diet


Maximise feed intakes during lactation, target average daily intake >6.5 kg per sow during lactation.  Increase daily from first week to end of period.  Feed several times a day


Provide free shatter through water nipple, >2 litres per minute


Maintain temperature not greater than 20°C for sows, piglets require >30°C at birth through provision of heat pad or creep lamp


Target a minimum lactation period of 27 days, ensuring body condition is good at weaning, make sure sows have to work by ensuring they have large litters to suckle


Introduce creep feed to piglets after first 14 days – maintain fresh creep feeders


Cull, the older less productive, troublesome sows at weaning (6th parity plus), a young herd is more productive and less troublesome.  Target a 45% herd replacement rate


Remember that the sow’s potential performance for her next parity is hormonally “programmes” at the point of weaning.   The better the lactation the more eggs will be shed at ovulation therefore, maximising the potential for a bigger litter next time

Wean to service


Batch thin sows together at weaning and give supplementary feed


Pre-service – “flush sows” feed lactation sows diet ad lib and/or top dress with high energy weaner diet/supplement if necessary.  Reduce feed back to dry sow curve immediately post-service to avoid embryonic death.


Ensure provision of minimum light level of 16 hours per day minimum 300 lux (time switch)


Do not over expose weaned sows to the boar.  Regulate and restrict daily contact pre-service to a few minutes in order to excite weaned sows

Semen storage


Store semen at 17°C in semen storage cabinet, make sure there is a Max/min thermometer inside and that it is checked daily and recorded on chart


Turn  semen twice daily to re-suspend sperm cells and note on chart


Rotate stock- use the oldest first


Transfer to service house in an insulate box


Avoid over exposure to light, heat or handling stock

Service routines


Good service management is the fuel that runs the herd!


Service routine on a large herd should be approached as a team effort in a regular routine manner.  The team of  people should tackle the task at a pre determined, routine time each day, fully prepared for the task in hand – ie a barrow or trolley containing semen, catheters, bungee cords, “breeding buddies” saddle bags, paper towel, disposable gloves, spray markers and service book.


Always work in a same direction, ie introduce the chatty boar right to left each day, followed by a second and even third boar to maximize standing reflex in served sows.  The service house manager must be aware of batch service targets and strive to achieve these with as little deviation from the target as possible to maintain a stable batch production flow.  A clear gilt management policy is essential as the herd will require 45% replacements every 12 months


Ensure sows are fully of heat (standing fully in presence of the boar) eg if weaned Thursday, am start serving Monday PM. If weaned Wednesday pm start serving Monday am
Establish a routine that suits the sows wean to service interval and stick to it

Every herd is different so there is no hard and fast rule regarding wean to service interval – the optimum time for service will be judged by the service house man


Ensure service area is cleaned thoroughly (clean slats daily), use dry disinfectant powder if wet


Wash hands and clean sow vulva with paper towel before starting inseminations


Maximise boar contact at service thorough use of service passage, one mature boar to every five sows – nose to nose contact with mature chatty boar is vital to achieve good standing reflex.  Follow up with a second and third boar if possible


Maximise stimulus at service thorough use of all tools available:  boar contact, bungee cords, breeding buddies, saddle bags and flank rubbing by stockperson


Do not squeeze flat pack, allow sow to take in semen through maximum stimulus at service


If first litter sows are slow to come on heat, consider using PG600  at weaning – discuss with herd vet


Post-insemination- leave the catheter in the sow to continue cervical stimulation.  To prevent back flow, double over the end of catheter and push through the hole in plastic of flat pack.  Allow the sow to rest; do not attempt to move for at least three hours after service.  Remove catheter after 10 minutes.


Record the quality of the insemination. so if first service is poor, more attention can be paid to second insemination.   Record which operator served  each sow to allow for further analysis.

The key to successful service management are the four S’s


Avoid over exposing boar to sow in wean to service period


Maximise standing reflex through use of boar, aids and stockperson


Inseminate when sow is receptive to above stimulus


Do not move sow straight after second service – allow to rest and do not stress her – move quietly.