We have 2 healthy sows under the age of 2. We’re wondering how long folks are generally breeding their sows? I know physical condition matters alot but considering the sows (and boar) are not over weight and healthy, how long can we expect to breed these girls? I am assuming our boar will do his job as long as we let him and he is healthy. When should be plan to introduce new sows to replace/retire the old ones? I know size will matter with a gilt and a mature boar but that’s another conversation. Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.
We have some girls here that are 4 years old & still going strong but we do have one that we are going to have to say “goodbye” to in the next couple weeks as at 4 1/2 she is no longer producing 🙁 SO I think it just depends on the sow. The “experts” say that a sow’s production does drop as they get older but we have not seen that in our 2 “still going strong” sows yet.
When should you keep a replacement? Hmm… If you really like those genetics then I would do it from the next litter as you never know what can happen. We kept a gilt from the last two litters of Penny, the sow that is no longer producing as we knew the end was maybe coming near. Good job we did as we are not going to get another chance. We will also do the same with our boars, once they are about 2-3 years old we start to keep a boar piglet back. For us, trying to preserve all the lines here on the farm, that is vital. As an example, just a few weeks ago, our Longfellow boar died as a result of a boar fight – not even his fault poor fellow. Liam was not even 2 years old & so we had NOT kept a boar back from him! Thankfully he had bred two sows so we have our pick of boars to get a good replacement from him but had the timing been wrong when it happened we could have been having to buy a new boar.
When we only have one sow from a particular line we tend to keep a gilt back much earlier. Another example is our sow, Mandy, who just had her first litter. She is the only daughter we have of Mildred, so we are keeping a gilt from her this time just in case something happens to Mandy. You can always sell them later if you don’t end up needing them.