Many advances in genetic selection, nutrition, housing and disease control have been incorporated into modern pork production since the 1950s resulting in highly prolific females and practices and technologies, which significantly increased efficiency of reproduction in the breeding herd. The objective of this manuscript is to review the literature and current industry practices employed for reproductive management. In particular the authors focus on assisted reproduction technologies and their application for enhanced productivity. Modern maternal line genotypes have lower appetites and exceptional lean growth potential compared to females of 20 yr ago. Thus, nutrient requirements and management techniques and technologies, which affect gilt development and sow longevity, require continuous updating. Failure to detect estrus accurately has the greatest impact on farrowing rate and litter size. Yet, even accurate estrus detection will not compensate for the variability in the interval between onset of estrus and actual time of ovulation. However, administration of GnRH analogs in weaned sows and in gilts after withdrawal of altrenogest do overcome this variability and thereby synchronize ovulation, which makes fixed-time AI practical. Seasonal infertility, mediated by temperature and photoperiod, is a persistent problem. Training workers in the art of stockmanship is of increasing importance as consumers become more interested in humane animal care. Altrenogest, is used to synchronize the estrous cycle of gilts, to prolong gestation for 2-3 d to synchronize farrowing and to postpone post-weaning estrus. P.G. 600® is used for induction of estrus in pre-pubertal gilts and as a treatment to overcome seasonal anestrous. Sperm cell numbers/dose of semen is significantly less for post cervical AI than for cervical AI. Real-time ultrasonography is used to determine pregnancy during wk 3-5. PGF2α effectively induces farrowing when administered within two d of normal gestation length. Ovulation synchronization, single fixed-time AI and induced parturition may lead to farrowing synchronization, which facilitates supervision and reduces stillbirths and piglet mortality. Attendance and assistance at farrowing is important especially to ensure adequate colostrum consumption by piglets immediately after birth. New performance terminologies are presented.
Keywords: Gilts; Management; Nutrition; Reproductive technology; Sows.