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IPIC targeting losses from sow mortality

Photo above courtesy of National Pork Board

Healthy and productive sows help ensure profitable and efficient herds. So, when the sow mortality rate due to pelvic organ prolapse started to increase throughout the industry for no apparent defined reasons, the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at Iowa State University took the lead on an industry-wide research effort.

Its goal: identify specific factors leading to pelvic organ prolapses contributing to the higher mortality rate.

IPIC director Jason Ross said funding for this project came from National Pork Board, which realized the need for a coordinated approach to the problem. The project involves 10 faculty from Iowa State, extension specialists and a large group of industry partners that bring different thoughts and perspectives to tackling an important issue such as this.

“The long-term objective of the project is to identify causes of pelvic organ prolapse so specific mitigation strategies can be developed and used,” he said.

The project currently includes more than 400,000 sows on more than 100 farms across 16 US states. The farms are of varying sizes, ownership, facility types and genetics.”

To get a good representation of the industry, IPIC is working with large production systems, smaller independent producers, a variety of sow-housing designs and numerous genetics. Enrolled farms may have high, medium or low reported levels of prolapses. This will help researchers identify and analyze possible risk factors that appear to be commonly associated with pelvic organ prolapses.

Breakdown of all mortalities reported for Week 9. A total of 26% of sow mortalities were the result of some form prolapse. Approximately 24% died due to lameness and related causes and 41% died due to other or unknown causes. (Source: IPIC)

“A major component of our work is to gather consistent mortality data from all farms to create accurate benchmarks,” Ross said. “This data is shared with the participating groups in a confidential manner on a regular basis.”

IPIC swine program specialist Amanda Chipman leads the data-collection and analysis portion of the project. This involves collecting weekly data on mortalities and prolapses from sow farm managers, and working with veterinarians, nutritionists and others from production systems to gather historical production, health, nutrition and management information. IPIC started collecting on-farm data in mid-January and were on 45 farms by the end of March.

“While the project remains in its relatively early stages, it has been quite successful in underscoring the collaborative nature of pork producers and their commitment to continuous improvement of animal health and well-being,” Ross said. “Also, the networks we’ve established with industry and academic partners are expected to facilitate rapid dissemination of project results as they become available.”

More information and weekly reports are available on the IPIC website.


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