Issue Date: 29 February 2008

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Summer infertility

Summer infertility occurs In ambient temperatures of and above 28ºC, and if humidity levels exceed 85%. A temperature as low as 24ºC can cause heat stress in pigs. Symptoms include a prolonged weaning-to-oestrus interval, lower conception rate leading to decreased farrowing rate, small litter size, delayed puberty and increased occurrence of “not-in-pig” syndrome. Pigs don’t have sweat pores and cool themselves off through blood vessels close to the skin. It’s therefore important that pig producers pay close attention to thermal management by employing environmental control mechanisms like ventilation and extractor fans. This will lessen the pigs’ stress levels and reduce the severity of summer infertility. Practical measures O nly 72 hours of exposure to temperatures exceeding 29ºin the first 30 days of gestation can decrease conception and farrowing rates. This is attributed to decreased sperm production and fertility failure, failure of fertilisation and embryo development, and an increased rate of embryonic death. Summer infertility can be a double financial blow for producers. Females bred in summer produce the pigs that will be sold the next summer when prices are usually at their highest. If farmers produce fewer pigs they’ll have less to sell when prices are most favourable. F armers can employ a number of practical measures to manage summer infertility optimally. B ecause a sow herd’s reproductive performance will drop during hot summer months, some farmers buy more gilts to ensure a greater chance of getting more piglets. However, Francois du Toit of Topigs South Africa advises against this. “Invest in environmental control so you don’t have to spend more on gilts to fight summer infertility,” he says. “Invest in a generator, especially now with the frequent power outages, and control the temperature via a computer. Knock-off time shouldn’t determine the timing of a house’s ventilation.” When the summer months arrive, gilts that are already cycling will have better reproductive abilities than those just reaching puberty, so it will be beneficial to keep more gilts as summer approaches. To ensure gilts are stimulated to reach puberty, expose them to boars at least once a day – either through the fence-line or actual physical contact. Research has shown, however, that with physical contact a greater number of females will reach puberty. Keeping good records will provide farmers with farrowing rates from the previous summer breeding season. This will enable them to make adjustments if necessary. Because heat can affect boars’ sexual drive and sperm production, keeping more boars will ensure better mating in summer when it’s required. Food and water When designing holding pens, a minimum of 1,5m2/gilt is ideal to ensure they aren’t overcrowded. Being unable to move around comfortably will place them under extra stress. Water intake should be maintained at 11ℓ to 18ℓ per 130kg pig, while lactating sows need 15ℓ to 20ℓ of water per day. Pregnant sows must drink up to 8ℓ/day of fresh, clean and cool water. “I can’t stress this enough,” says Du Toit. “The only way they can cool themselves down is by drinking cold water or if farmers employ optimal ventilation.” Heat results in appetite loss and weight loss, nutrient deficiencies and rebreeding problems. Remember that pigs eat amounts of feed and not percentages. And because sow rations are made with a certain amount of premix, it’s important to ensure sows eat enough. armers should feed sows according to size, body condition, parity, stage of pregnancy and litter size. On average you’d want P2 (backfat) measurements of 16mm on farrowing pigs and 12mm on pigs that are weaning. Provide a reduced serving of feed three times a day during summer, as opposed to twice. Many herds that have adopted this feeding regime in the summer months have observed a 10% to 15% increase in feed consumption. Source: Pig News

Feed requirements of the
TOPIGS 40 sow

A sow’s feeding requirements will differ depending on what stage of the breeding cycle she’s in. Francois du Toit of TOPIGS SA talks pig producers through the process.

Take the guessing out of sow feeding. The Topigs 40 sow has a high appetite, so managers must determine the amount of feed to give her because she’ll eat almost every amount put in front of her. It’s easy to determine the amount of feed needed, taking into account a couple of basic rules that our grandparents used in sow feeding. 1. Feeding in gestation This is a very important time in correcting the condition of the weaned sows. During the first 12 weeks of gestation, the sow uses feed for maintenance plus an amount required to regain condition. While lactating, the sow loses some condition (P2 = 12), with the loss of about 3mm to 4mm of backfat. The farm manager must decide how much condition each individual sow is lacking to determine the required amount of feed (between 1,8kg and 2,4kg/day). By week 12 after farrowing, the sow should have put back on the lost fat and be in condition, ready for the next lactation (P2 = 16). Also take into account different feeding levels for first-, second- and third-parity sows. A rule of thumb is that 10kg of feed is needed to add 1mm of backfat. Increase feed intake during the last four weeks of pregnancy to support foetal growth and the development of mammary tissue; it should be maximised at approximately 3,25kg/day. During this stage, more feed will have little effect on the sow’s condition; she’ll allocate all nutrients to the piglets in her uterus. F ive days before farrowing – when moving the sow to the farrowing room – the feed amount is decreased. This procedure is to adapt the sow to taking nutrients from her body and giving them to the suckling piglets, over and above the feed received during the lactation period. This feed reduction encourages a smooth onset of milk production. The change from sow and boar diet to lactation feed should also be done during this time. It’s also good practice to supply wheat bran (±400g/day) during this time to prevent constipation due to the reduction of feed. Free access to cool and fresh water is always a must. eed intake must also be modified according to the environment and behaviour. At lower temperatures the body requires more feed for maintenance than at a more moderate temperature. Estimates are that for each 1ºC below the sow’s critical temperature (18ºC), about 0,1kg of additional feed is required to maintain body temperature. The breeding female’s body growth must also be accommodated over the first three parities. 2. Feeding in lactation n the first 10 days after farrowing, the feed amount is increased gradually (500g/day) until maximum required feed intake is achieved. This adapts the sow to producing milk, and needing nutrients to compensate for the piglets’ increasing milk demand. During lactation, 10 days after farrowing, sows are fed for maintenance plus the amount of feed required to produce milk (± 2 kg, + 0,4 to 0,5 kg/piglet). With sows going into the farrow house with a backfat P2 of 16, this feeding level will ensure they have sufficient milk for the piglets, and lose the required condition to wean with a backfat measurement of 12. Contact Francois du Toit of Topigs SA on 082 379 2153.

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Payouts for farmers

During The 2005 outbreak of classical swine fever (in the Eastern Cape, 492 000 pigs had to be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. The operation cost the government over R700 million, while farmers were compensated R340 million for their pigs. Payouts amounting to R100 million are still due to some 55 000 people, mostly in communal areas and without bank accounts. To compensate them, the government sends the money to the Port Elizabeth Post Office, from where it’s distributed to the regional Post Offices with a heavy security presence. Residents awaiting compensation are encouraged to check the lists posted in their local Post Offices, agricultural ward offices and with their traditional leaders. “We are going to pay out R47 million in the next seven days,” says Dr Lubabalo Mrwebi, Eastern Cape director of veterinary services. “The local agricultural department has a backlog in payments from October 2006 but we’re in consultation with the national department to release those funds and compensate everyone from the 2005 and 2007 outbreaks before the end of the financial year.” B ecause most people only had three to four pigs, claims need to be verified before compensation can be paid out. Following the control of last year’s smaller outbreak in the rural Eastern Cape, which saw only 300 pigs affected, road blocks were finally lifted in November 2007. These road blocks cost the government R100 000/month, money which will now be used for surveillance and bleeding of pigs. For queries about outstanding compensation contact the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture on (043) 683 1008. •

Classical swine fever in swill

To keep a lid on classical swine fever (CSF) in South Africa, industry representatives conduct regular harbour inspections to ensure illegal galley waste isn’t taken from ships and to farms. CEO of the African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) Simon Streicher says uncooked local swill from restaurants and hotels remains a big problem. “To remove the CSF virus, swill has to be cooked for 30 minutes at 85ºC,” he says. However, at last year’s Sappo national annual general meeting, vice-chairperson of the Cape Pork Producers’ Hennie Cronjé urged government to more effectively police the feeding of swill to pigs. He asked that hospital and restaurant swill be destroyed rather than allowed to be sold as pig feed. “The virus can survive at -80ºC for up to four years,” says Streicher. “The only way to rid the meat of is by cooking it.”

Farmers compensated for PRRS

Nearly 9 000 pigs had to be destroyed after last year’s porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) outbreak in the Western Cape. A ccording to Dr Gary Bührmann, chief state veterinarian for the Boland, the pigs are valued at an estimated R500 each. “We’ve experienced some resistance from farmers to cull their pigs because during the last outbreak they were compensated an average value of R1 000/pig,” says Bührmann. “One Western Cape farmer in particular is dragging his heels and hasn’t slaughtered out completely.” While the SA Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) has contributed R2 million to minimise the blow farmers have been dealt and has paid out for some 2 400 culled pigs, national government has not lent any financial assistance. “The Cape provincial government has provided help in the form of support services and finances,” says Bührmann. “Sappo paid compensation for pigs that were unsuitable for slaughtering in the abattoir as they were too small, while farmers were paid the meat value of the pigs that were suitable for slaughtering.” The criteria pig farmers now have to adhere to when selling their piglets on auction, helped identify the PRRS outbreak last year. For example, a vet is required to test the piglets one month before they are sold on auction. “The ban on selling piglets on auction following the PRRS outbreak in 2004 was lifted last year,” says Sappo Simon Streicher. “Fortunately, when the vet went to test a Western Cape farmer’s pigs for PRRS, they tested positive and were destroyed to minimise the chance of a bigger outbreak.” ührmann says the outbreak is under control and that no new cases have been reported. |fw

Healthy pigs, popular pork

Farmer’s Weekly’s pig focus looks at the SA Pork Producers’ Association (SAPPO’s) latest marketing drive and at porcine health issues from swine fever and PRRS to summer infertility. David Steynberg reports.

Cooking-class promotions in the Western Cape

Promoters Claire Beck and Lydia Jacobs have been involved with the Western Cape Pork Producers’ Association for over 53 years between them, informing people about the benefits of pork. For the past five years, they’ve been involved in a hospitality development project run through various churches in the Western Cape, in which they teach previously disadvantaged women how to cut, prepare and cook pork. T aking a 3kg leg of pork, they show the women how to utilise every part of the leg, from the bone and flank to make curry, the skin to prepare crackling, the topside for stir-fry and the silverside for schnitzel. “Unbelievable! All this food for only R67,” says Claire relating the story of one of the women’s reactions to the affordability and versatility of pork. “At the beginning R67 sounded like a lot of money to them, but once they saw all that was prepared they were very impressed.” A t the training centres where the courses are held, the women are taught everything from how to buy pork to cutting and cooking it, and upon completion are encouraged to pass their skills on to at least five other women. “Many of the women who complete the basic course, which is offered free of charge, are offered jobs in hotels, old-age homes and private homes,” says Claire. “They’re required to pay for the advanced course, however.” For information on attending the courses, contact Claire Beck on (021) 591 8439 or Lydia Jacobs on (021) 637 0453.

Campaign targets Black Diamonds

One of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo’s) objectives this year is to increase per capita pork consumption, currently estimated at 3,7kg/year, by 5%. o achieve this, the Sappo marketing team is investing R5 million in a pork promotion drive to exploit new markets and increase market share by communicating the positive attributes of pork. ver the past couple of years, consumers’ perceptions about the health and safety of pork have turned for the worse, due to outbreaks of classical swine fever and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). According to Marieta Human, Sappo’s promotion coordinator, the campaign aims to educate consumers about the benefits of pork, maximise the rand value and increase the focus on emerging consumer groups. I f more markets open for pork, farmers will need to increase their production to meet the expected high demand. ne of these emerging groups has been identified as “Black Diamonds”, they are wealthy, have steady employment, are educated, and are mostly young individuals who own their own homes and cars, and are creditworthy. heir annual potential spending power is R180 billion and they represent only 12% of the black South African population, but make up 28% of the total consumer spending power. o expose and change possible negative perceptions about pork, Sappo will continue to communicate the message that not only does pork taste good, but that it’s also full of nutritional value, is great value for money and is safe to eat.

Developing the emerging market

Qeuda Nyoka, head of Sappo’s emerging farmer portfolio, has been working for the past few years on a business plan specifically suited to the emerging sector that will enable producers to source finance from banks. It works on the principle of a 100 sow units which will require about R3,5 million from banks to be commercially viable. “Two of the biggest problems farmers have are acquiring land and getting environmental impact assessments done,” says Nyoka. S tudy groups have also been established, while a number of emerging farmers and extension officers have been trained in pig production at ARC-Irene. At the study groups, members are addressed by specialists in the pork industry and are encouraged to ask questions and share information. Following the outbreak of PRRS and classical swine fever in the Eastern and Western Cape, Nyoka met with emerging producers to educate them about preventative measures and the causes and effects of the diseases. o elevate emerging farmers to small commercial producers, Sappo provides proof to banks that the producers will have viable markets for their product.