Location: Reproduction ResearchTitle: Evolution of the commercial sow Author
Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Swine production has dramatically changed in the past 30 to 40 years. The small producer that raised pigs with minimal investment when the economics were desirable (‘part-timers’) has been replaced by full-time swine producers with massive capital investments. As this revolution in production practices has occurred, the optimal animal has evolved. Today’s market hog is leaner and weighs 20% more, yet goes to market at a similar age and consumed a similar quantity of feed. While these changes are impressive, they are dwarfed by the changes in the modern commercial sow which births 30% more piglets and has 10% more litters/year. Today’s commercial sow is a culmination of research efforts in reproductive physiology, nutrition, facility design and animal management synergistically combined with modern genetic selection theory. She is a first-generation cross between a Landrace and a Yorkshire/Large White parent from lines that have been selected for superior reproductive performance and lean tissue growth. Selection has emphasized prolificacy, milk production and return to estrus in a lean, fast growing animal. While her current performance figures are impressive, there is still room to improve. She will continue to evolve to fit future production needs and environments to supply the world with nutritious pork products.