Understanding and Valuing Sow Mortality: a podcast episode

Dr. John Deen of the University of Minnesota was recently interviewed by Dr. Clayton Johnson about the economic and biologic impact of sow mortality in an episode of the Swine Doc Pod with Carthage.

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“Dr. John Deen, professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine joins us to discuss the topic of sow mortality. Dr. Deen is a veterinary epidemiologist and economist who shares his 30+ years of experience with swine producers throughout the world. Having grown up on his families farm in southern Ontario, John brings a practical understanding of sow production and how sow mortality impacts the hog farm. We discuss the physical challenges of handling increased sow mortality as well as the economic consequences for producers when the sow exits the herd. John takes us through the economic impact of sow mortality by first defining the full value sow. Full value sows are culled at optimal parity, at weaning, in good condition and with a gilt properly acclimated ready to take it’s place in the breed group. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sows don’t leave the herd as full value sows, John takes us through the lost income of this situation when we have a premature culling event or death. We touch on the root causes of sow mortality including pelvic organ prolapses (POP), lameness and unexpected death. Dr. Deen gives us an introduction into the field of survivability of reproducing females in evolutionary biology, sharing how species balance survival of the female with the production of progeny and focusing on how widely this balance varies from one female to another. Without a doubt, maximizing both sow survival and optimal piglet production are at odds with each other and this fact lies at the root of our current challenges with escalating sow mortality.”

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