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Developing an artificial insemination swine breeding program?

The use of artificial insemination (AI) in swine breeding programs continues to attract swine producers as a means of improving reproductive efficiency. Before a swine producer switches to an AI program, several things should be considered.

Management: A critical aspect of any successful AI program involves the breeding manager. The person responsible for the breeding program must be motivated to making AI work in the operation. Without an interest in using AI and some technical training, the result of using AI can be disappointing.

Total management of the operation should be considered prior to switching to an AI program. A good set of records helps determine the potential benefits of using AI. If current conception rates are low using natural service, don't expect AI to correct this problem. AI requires greater attention to details. If previous breeding management was slack on details and records, a change in management routines must be made to improve the chance of success with an AI program.

Estrus Detection: Another area that requires attention is the detection of estrus and timing of insemination. In general, it is more difficult for operations using a pen mating system to switch to AI. Routine estrus detection is important to making AI work. Estrus should be checked on gilts and/or sows twice a day. Insemination should be timed so that maximum conception will occur. For gilts, insemination should occur 12 and 24 hours after the gilt first stands. Sows should be inseminated 24 and 36 hours after standing heat occurs.

Switching to an AI program should be a gradual process. Gaining confidence in AI methods, heat detection, insemination, and management will help insure the success of an AI program. The use of natural service in combination with AI may assist maintaining farrowing rates while the breeding manager is learning AI techniques. During the learning phase, don't extend semen to the maximum range. Although 2 to 3 billion sperm usually give acceptable fertility, a higher concentration (5 to 6 billion sperm per insemination) is recommended.

Regardless of the size of operation, using AI can provide a means of making genetic improvement in the swine operation. Other advantages of using AI include:

  • Requires fewer boars than using natural service
  • Genetic improvement may occur more rapidly
  • Reducing the risk of disease transmission
  • Market pigs tend to be more uniform because fewer sires are used
  • Time required for breeding may be reduced
  • Less stress on breeding herd especially in summer heat

Producers considering the use of AI should consider the benefits and be aware of the potential problems.

  • Requires higher level of management
  • Storage of extended semen is limited
  • Sanitation of equipment is a must
  • Heat detection is critical for AI success
  • Training of workers

Remember, making the switch from natural service to AI should be a gradual process. Learning the techniques of AI, keeping accurate records, following a breeding program, and maintaining motivation of people are important to the success of an AI program. Additional information regarding AI techniques can be obtained by contacting your local County Extension Office.

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Pigs and hogs feed at Palo Alto Farms in West Point, Mississippi in this file photo. Consumer preference is one reason interest has been growing in people in the state raising pigs on pastureland for their own consumption. (File photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Swine September 18, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Low feed costs and steady demand are keeping the playing field level for Mississippi swine producers, but the bottom line at year’s end will be down from 2014 totals.

Mississippi’s value of production for hogs was $153 million last year. No estimates are available for 2015, but hog prices have been much lower than they were in 2014, while hog numbers were higher at the first of the year.

Palo Alto Farm near West Point grew this and many other pasture-raised pigs to meet the increasing demand for locally grown foods. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Swine September 17, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Specialty markets in pork production are cropping up across the U.S. in response to a growing interest in pasture-raised pigs.

Before the 1960s, most U.S. pork was raised in outside lots or on pasture systems. Commercial pork production today generally relies on large warehouse-like buildings or barns that house sows and pigs in stalls or pens.

Mississippi 2014 Estimated Value of Ag Production
Filed Under: Catfish, Corn, Cotton, Rice, Soybeans, Sweet Potatoes, Agricultural Economics, Forages, Beef, Poultry, Swine, Forestry December 19, 2014

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite low prices for many commodities, the overall projected totals for Mississippi’s crop values should top $7 billion for the third straight year and essentially match the record set in 2013.

John Michael Riley, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said his preliminary estimate of 2014’s agricultural production values, excluding government payments, is over $7.7 billion.

Mississippi cattle, such as this one on the Beaverdam Fresh Farms in Clay County, Mississippi, on July 8, 2014, eat less and grow slower during the hottest months. While Mississippi has not faced extremely dry conditions in recent years, the state's herd numbers are still down, just like those in drought-stricken regions. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Swine, Beef July 11, 2014

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle and hog prices are soaring to record highs, causing producers to debate whether to sell their valuable animals or expand their herd sizes for the future.

“It’s hard not to sell when prices are this good and the pull of the feedlot is so strong,” said John Michael Riley, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

As producers continue to reduce herd sizes nationally, prices should remain strong, but the result will be fewer animals available to sell in the future.

William White works to install pig-handling equipment in a multipurpose building being readied for swine nutrition research at Mississippi State University's H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
Filed Under: Swine October 18, 2013

MISSISSIPPI STATE – A partnership with Prestage Farms Inc. is allowing Mississippi State University to improve its swine research facility as university scientists prepare to resume swine-related studies.

John Blanton, head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at MSU, said there is a need in the Southeast for science-based information on swine production.
“We are addressing that need of our stakeholders through our swine research program,” Blanton said.

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