Good management and selection of gilts is key for a productive herd. At any time, 20–25% of production should be from gilts. A 45%+ replacement rate means that nearly half the herd will have been replaced during the year.
Performance from, and management of, gilts has a large impact on productivity and profitability – each excess/culled gilt eats 210 kg of feed, costing £47 to produce.
It is important to ensure there are enough gilts available to serve when required. This allows you to plan the culling and replacement of older or less productive sows and maintain the target herd parity profile.
The most productive herds (e.g. older than three years) have parity structures with a high proportion of sows in parities 3–5, which indicates the ability to retain young sows in the herd.
This section provides guidance on gilt management, for both indoor and outdoor systems.