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Taaibosch operates a 2,300-sow breeding & nursery unit, a weaning unit, a growing & finishing unit, and a genetic nucleus. Our facilities include a Gene Transfer Centre with an Artificial Insemination (AI) Laboratory. We use the latest mobile semen technology, which provides fresh semen to the breeding unit on a scheduled, on-demand basis.

Employee holding semen batches in plastic bags.

Artificial Insemination Process in Pigs

On average, a boar ejaculates between 200 - 400 ml, and the number of spermatozoa will depend on several factors, like age and frequency of collection, but between 20 to 60 billion.

Semen batches are prepared in our on-farm Artificial Insemination station and laboratory. The semen of each boar or combination of boars is batch controlled and dyed with a specific colour for identification. Each sow receives a batch which is determined through her lineage and selection status. The Artificial Insemination process is done mid-morning as it’s the ideal temperature for sows and caretakers; the morning rush is complete, but energy levels are still high. Insemination is done with a catheter which is inserted in the sow's cervix. Insemination brackets (Breeding Buddies) are used to assist in the process and make the sow more comfortable while simulating boar pressure. Continuous boar contact through passages aids in the simulation and feromone feedback process. Technology is important and valuable in this process. The sow is recorded once insemination takes place and the semen batch is scanned. This creates a multitude of entries; the day and time of insemination, the inseminator, method, body condition, and location. This ensures traceability and quality control. All data captured can be used and analysed to increase our production over time.

Sows are only placed in individual stalls for the duration of the Artificial Insemination process to ensure correct and safe Artificial Insemination. They are moved to group housing within 2 - 3 days after insemination.

Pregnancy Testing in Sows

Between days 28 to 35 after Artificial Insemination, pregnancy is confirmed by the unit manager with a handheld ultrasound device. The ultrasound image shows the gestational sacs but unfortunately, you can't accurately determine the number of piglets.

If the sow is not pregnant, she will be evaluated to determine her fertility condition, the specific semen batch that was used to inseminate her, the Artificial Insemination process, the inseminator on the day, and whether there is a correlation with the other sows in the batch. Based on the findings of the investigation and her past reproductive performance, the sow is evaluated to determine the next step in her productive cycle. We aim for sow longevity, welfare, and productivity - a fine balance is maintained to ensure the sustainability of the sow herd and production farm. The sow is removed from her current group and placed in a new group so that she doesn't disturb the pregnant sows when coming into heat. At Taaibosch, we have a 94 - 97% conception rate and we take the continuous monitoring of our sows very seriously. They are constantly monitored to ensure optimal health, a comfortable environment, and that they are happy in their social group.

How to determine if a sow is in heat

We usually say a sow is "standing" because that is exactly what happens. A sow in heat will stand rock solid if you work with her or try to move her. A sow that is not in heat will either move away or play with you if touched.


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