There's been 2 reasons I've had to farrow year round...but would I do it now?
I'd rather not.....
Why did I start that way?
1) We needed lots of piglets - in a bad way
Looking in the rear view mirror of the last 3 years since I took over the recovery effort in the Spring of 2020, the Meishan was up against the wall.
I took on over 50 prepaid orders for piglets that grew to 75 in short order.
As Rico (founder of the registered Meishan movement) suggested and I determined, the foundation herd was done breeding just prior to the transition of the herd to my farm.
I saw that as a make-or-break moment for the Meishan. I could either catapoult it to the heights I knew it could acheive, or let it struggle and potentially fail.
I guess it's clear what path I chose - I went all in.
That meant getting piglets on the ground as fast as I could. Weather extremes be damned!
What do I mean by that?
Regardless of the type of extreme, any extreme weather can cause more loss. It's just a fact of raising livestock.
Sadly, one of my friends and Meishan breeders lost a sow and her 13 piglets just before farrowing last July during the 100 degree plus temps. I, too, suffered higher losses during that extreme. One case being an aborted litter on the USDA project, sadly. Devastating losses for us both.
My friends vet shared that all animals heavily bred at that heat wave were struggling and there was much loss across all species.
It's just a fact of breeding that weather extremes can increase loss. Something I'd prefer not to manage, honestly.
Not only is it the piglet loss or worse, it's also more challenging on us as farmers to work in those temps, taking more energy and added work that may not be in our best interest, either.
For those reasons, I try to avoid farrowing in the middle of summer or winter.
What about excitement? How is that related to this?
What do I mean by that?
Simple - buying into breeding stock, there's one goal.
Getting babies on the ground!!
So, when it's been time to pair hogs together, Excitement often wins!
I did not take the time early on to look ahead at the farrowing chart.....
That's meant changing holiday plans and trips.....which was ok at first....but, family time is precious.....and as a family, we didn't like that demand.
I needed to plan so we didn't miss milestones anymore....
How Do I Manage it Now?
I plan ahead, using my farrowing chart religiously. I try to avoid extreme weather farrowing, hot or cold....and major holidays, if possible.
Having a litter born on Christmas Eve was exciting! But that major temp drop that led to loss - not so much.....
There is another factor emerging in the Meishan world that I'll talk about soon in regards to breeding timing -
.........and that's the show world needs. I'm still figuring that one out!
What do you do? How do you plan your farrowings and why?
I'd love to hear!