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When Is It Safe to Breed A Gilt?

Posted 5/20/2020 12:08pm by Lori Enright.


I have pretty much had the mindset that if a gilt is old enough to cycle, she is old enough to be bred.  That seems true enough, but recently I was reminded of some advice I was given by one of the "big swine guys", Ohio State Swine Extension Specialist, Professor Steven Moeller.  He told me early on that a gilt should be approximately 65% of her full size before breeding her.  That has always translated in my mind to the age where my gilts seemed to settle (get in pig).  I discovered that my gilts often were bred on the first cycle and then didn't settle until the next.  This ended up putting them at just over 1 year of age at the time of first parity.  In the beginning, I really didn't have a good handle on what was the true size of a fully grown Kunekune Pig having only owned one that was full grown when I got her.  I didn't know if she was typical one way or the other.

In my career as a Kunekune Pig breeder, I have had a couple of instances where the young gilt was in need of assistance at time of farrowing and, I believe, it was due to her lack of size.  Sometimes, problems have come about due to the structure of the gilt as in the case of what we call "cobby-bodied" gilts.  These girls are short in the back and deep in the girth.  They do not represent ease of farrowing lacking the long bodied "straight shot" that larger, longer gilts and sows are prized for.

Recently, I was presented with a very problematic farrowing by a gilt I anticipated would be a larger female.  I do believe that she will ultimately grow to be on the larger side of what most gilts/sows grow to be.  However, the breed is known for slow growth and sometimes this fact means that it is safer to wait for that growth to avoid any problems with dystocia.  Keep in mind that a gilt that is over conditioned and on the far side of 2 years old can also result in infertility so breeders need to be methodical in their timing of mating and be aware of the kind of condition that they put on their replacement gilts.


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