Received: 4 August 2016; Revised: 27 September 2016. Accepted: 3 November 2016. Published online 17 November 2016.
Objective: The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of farrowing month (FM), parity and sex on the growth performance of Berkshire swine raised in alternative production systems.
Method: A total of 40 farrowing records from 27 sows and 1258 BW records from 274 piglets collected over a two-year period were used for the analysis. Body weights were recorded at birth, weaning (28 d), 56, 84, 112 and 140 days. Any BW not recorded on schedule was recalculated to conform the days of age among corresponding BW records, using growth curves drawn with polynomial functions whose power was determined by the number of existing observations for each individual.
Results: The mean parity (±SD) of the sows was 3.42±2.14. The sows that farrowed in June had the lowest number of total born (TB) with an average of 6.25±2.22 piglets per sow. However, the lowest average number of piglets weaned (NW) at day 28 was found in sows that farrowed in May, as well as the highest number recorded for the stillborn piglets with an average of 2.67 piglets per sow. Moreover, the lowest increase in weight from birth to weaning occurred in piglets that were farrowed in May, which also corresponds with the average daily gain (ADG) of 0.29kg and the last recorded weight measurement on day 140 of 41.69±1.45kg. Contrastingly, the largest growth was found among pigs farrowed in June, with the largest increase in weight of 7.55kg from birth to weaning, the highest ADG of 0.51kg from birth to 140 DOA and the highest BW of 74.70±1.86kg recorded on day 140.
Conclusion: Pigs farrowed in June also had the least number that died between birth and weaning. The zone of thermal comfort found in sows reared in indoor confinement systems did not improve the reproductive performance of the sows reared in an outdoor, alternative production system, while the growth performance of the pigs was improved when the ambient temperature was consistently hot or consistently cold.
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