BATCH farrowing has been hailed as the saviour of pig health, but is not a new concept, having been widely practised in the UK until the 1950s. At that time, moves to early weaning systems drove producers back to weekly farrowing (arguably, a form of batch farrowing). The emergence of new diseases in the 1990s, such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome/porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PMWS/PDNS), forced pig farmers to reassess their production systems once more. It was found that strict all‐in/all‐out policies coupled with efficient cleansing and disinfection between batches of rearing, growing and finishing pigs not only reduced losses associated with disease, but also improved the physical performance of pigs by around 100 to 150 g per day. Therefore, to facilitate the production of large enough batches of weaners to achieve all‐in/all‐out strategies, farmers reverted back to batch farrowing. Many weaner producers converted to batch farrowing at the same time in order to produce sufficient numbers of pigs of similar age and immune status for third party rearers/finishers to fill buildings in one hit. This article discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered by any unit contemplating converting to batch farrowing.
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