April 6, 2020 – Pig Breeding – Artificial Insemination

We are in the midst of pig breeding season on our small farm. We have 11 sows and gilts in the breeding barn right now.

We are hopeful that this quarantine goes away soon enough to allow us to sell a fall crop of show pigs for Winter shows.

There is a way to “time” breeding of gilts. Pigs cycle every 21 days on average. For gilts, there is a hormone available to use to predetermine the time you will need semen.

The brand name is Matrix, but there are several generic versions. You give the gilt 6.8 ml of altrenogest once daily for 14 days. Here are the “official label directions” from a bottle of Matrix:

Administer 6.8 ml (15 mg Altrenogest) per gilt by top-dressing Matrix on a portion of each gilt’s daily feed for 14 consecutive days. Treat gilts on an individual animal basis. To produce the desired synchronization of estrus in a group of gilts, treat all of the gilts daily for the same 14-day period

When the hormone administration is withdrawn, the gilt will begin to cycle and “stand” in 3-5 days on average. When the gilts are finicky, we will put the medication onto a hamburger bun, which soaks up the liquid well and the gilts enjoy the bread treat.

This is a very potent hormone and should not be handled by women without gloves. It will absorb through the skin and can interfere with human menstrual cycles.

The semen can be stored in a cooler and shipped overnight. A wine cooler works for small farms. Semen must be rotated twice daily to keep the sperm cells alive and dispersed throughout the semen extender which provides nourishment to the cells. The following is a video showing the receiving, opening, and storing of a shipment of cooled boar semen.

Once you have determined that your sow or gilt is ready to be bred – that is she is showing “standing heat”, then you are ready to breed. We normally breed 12 hours after a gilt begins to show standing heat and 24 hours after a sow shows standing heat.

Pigs tend to ovulate near the end of their heat cycle, which is why it’s important to wait until you use the semen you have paid for and had shipped. We normally breed 2-3 times, 12 hours apart, until the gilt or sow stops standing. Sometimes pigs will go much longer, so it’s best to have tracked a heat cycle on each female prior to the cycle you would like to breed on.

Here is a recent video of a sow being bred by artificial insemination,

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have or any information you don’t feel was presented clearly.

You can find our farm on Facebook at Deep South Showstock.

Blessings for large litters and easy farrowing.

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