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New sow care programme to reduce losses, optimise performance and improve well-being

Looking to help the US pork industry raise the bar for performance and reverse the surge in sow mortality rates, Zoetis has introduced Individual Sow Care

23 January 2020, at 10:00am

Individual Sow Care is a comprehensive, on-farm training programme that teaches caregivers and production managers the value of conducting health, welfare and performance assessments on every sow, from every breed group, every day.

“Sow mortality rates in the United States have increased dramatically in recent years and now average about 15 percent,” Eva Jablonski, DVM, a technical services veterinarian for Zoetis, said at the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines, where the programme was unveiled.

“While pelvic prolapses and lameness are among the most visible conditions associated with sow mortality, 39 percent of sow deaths are categorised as unknown. We believe that taking a more holistic and individualised approach to sow care - one that proactively assesses sow health, performance, body condition, environment - will go a long way toward reducing losses and improving sow productivity.”

One-day programme

Individual Sow Care is a one-day programme that combines classroom instruction and hands-on training in the barn. Weeks before the session, Zoetis representatives conduct an on-farm review of the sow farm’s history and performance, as well as facilities, health challenges and other factors that may contribute to production losses or mortality. The training programme is then customised to meet the needs and challenges of that specific farm.

“Our goal is to help each farm identify opportunities for improving the well-being and performance of each sow,” Dr Jablonski added.

Focus on observations

Individual Sow Care, which may be used with sows housed in stalls or groups, focuses on the importance of conducting daily observations of each sow - evaluating animal behaviour, environment, feed/water intake, and stools and urine, in addition to temperature, posture, body and teat condition, lesions, perineal area damage, lameness, milk supply and the condition of piglets. Zoetis awards a plaque to each group of trainees that completes the programme. Zoetis has also developed an in-barn poster to remind trainees of specific Individual Sow Care checkpoints.

Individual Sow Care was built on the success of Individual Pig Care, which was introduced in 2005. According to Dr Jablonski, that programme has helped to train hundreds of caregivers and production managers on the importance of walking the pens and checking every pig, every day, to help ensure optimum health, welfare and performance.

“The response to Individual Pig Care, combined with the surge in sow mortality rates, led Zoetis to create Individual Sow Care,” she added.

For more information on Individual Sow Care, veterinarians and producers should contact their Zoetis representative.