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How can we uncover the true causes of sow mortality?

Simplified post-mortem methods and data collection may shed some light on sow mortality.

10 June 2019, at 1:12pm

Canadian scientists are working to standardise the collection of data related to sow mortality in an effort to more fully understand the cause.

As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists are working to determine the factors contributing to an increase in sow mortality over the last decade or so.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Jennifer Brown, a research scientist in ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, says the intent is to simplify post-mortem methods used on farm and expand data collection to help to clearly identify what the causes are.

"We are reaching out around the globe to get international data sets and also a literature review related to sow mortality," explains Dr Brown.

"Then there will be a survey of Canadian producers using contacts from Prairie Swine Centre, CCSI and CDPQ - so producers across the country that we will survey on current levels of mortality.

"From that survey we hope to identify some individual farms that we can go to and help them to record some more data in detail.

"We are hoping to improve our recording methods, so working with SigaPig and PigCHAMP and these groups, perhaps refining the questions that are asked around sow mortality and sow euthanasia and culling so that going forward we're having a clearer picture of what's actually going on on farm.

"That work will definitely impact producers potentially and working with these groups that collect production data.

"If producers could be doing some more vet data collection it would also be valuable."

Dr Brown says that by standardising the way we collect the data on sow losses and digging deeper into post-mortems, we can hopefully better understand the actual cause.