Gestation Sow Management - Part 2

Gestation Sows Management - Part 2

If you have missed it, check out the first part of this guide about gestation sow feeding and housing.

In this second part, we will cover three important sow management components:

  • Heat detection
  • Insemination protocol and program
  • Performance Indicators

Let’s dive headfirst into the breeding heat detection.

Heat detection for gestation sows 

Accurate heat detection is essential for the correct timing of insemination; however, heat is often missed or misdiagnosed due to this process being overlooked:

  1. Regroup the sows per physiological stage
  2. From the day after the weaning: move the boar in front of the sows (nose to nose) twice a day. (morning and afternoon)
  3. Detect heat signs (see below for more information)
  4. Look for estrus signs (receptiveness and fertility period of the sow). The sow naturally ovulates at two-thirds of heat time. An insemination performed during 12 to 24 hours before ovulation is thus recommended.

Here is what to do to detect heat signs:

Check signs of heat twice a day 

  • Back end: swollen, red vulva, watery discharge from vulva, clitoris flat and pale pink
  • Activity: restless, climb up gates and walls, mount other females but do not stand themselves, increasing interest in the boar
  • Sounds: high-pitched whining.

Check signs of standing heat

  • Back end: vulva appears normal (swelling and redness subsides), sticky discharge from vulva, clitoris red and protruding, tail upright whilst standing and flicks up and down
  • Activity: poor appetite, pricked ears, stand with arched back, glazed eyes, trembling, attracted to stockperson, seek boar contact, stand rigid if mounted
  • Sounds: very vocal with repeated grunts or long growls.

Here is a simple graphic to show the ideal insemination period during sow heat time:

Gestation Sow Heating Process

If the heat detection is tremendous to yield a successful insemination and increase farrowing rates, the insemination process cannot be neglected.

Insemination process and program

Here is the 8-step insemination protocol to follow to maximize chances of having pregnant sows.

  1. Mark sows previously detected in heat.
  2. Wash your hands and put the gloves on.
  3. Put the semen out of the fridge
  4. Wash and dry the vulva
  5. Put some lubricating gel (no spermicide!) on the insemination tube and introduce it in direction of the vagina (pay attention not to put it in the bladder!)
  6. Connect the dose of semen and wait until it slowly empties itself (see picture on the right side). At the same time, press on the back or on the flanks of the animal to stimulate it
  7. Note the insemination date and evaluate the quality of the insemination (bleeding, discharges)
  8. Mark again the sows with a code after each insemination

Do you know?

A conventional dose of semen of 75 ml contains 2.5 – 3.0 billions of spermatozoids and can be conserved 3 to 5 days at 17°C

Contact us if you would like one of our swine technical support specialists to make an audit of the insemination protocol.

The insemination process should be efficiently scheduled so as to maximize chances of pregnancy. It is thus recommended to have 2 AI every 12 hours or 1 every 24 hours. Here is a simple calendar breakdown below to help you memorize the schedule:

Case of 2 Artificial Inseminations (AI) per day (AI every 12 hours)

Gestation Sow insemination program

Case of 1 Artificial Insemination (AI) per day (AI every 24 hours)

Gestation Sows insemination


Do you know?

For gilts, the estrus period is shorter, so it is important to inseminate the gilt at the first estrus.

Which performance indicators to check?

 The two most important performance indicators to check are the conception rate and farrowing rate.

The other performance indicators to check are the gestation duration (in days) and the weaning to conception interval (in days).

Gestation Sows Performance Indicators

Below is a quick tool to help you measuring the conception rate and farrowing rate of your gestation sow breeding:


Contact us to check with one of our technical specialists the critical value that you should reach to have a performing breeding.

Stay tuned for the first part about our next guide dealing with the feeding and management of lactation sows.

In case you missed it, learn which feedings are best appropriate in breeding gestation sows and in which housing conditions they need to be bred in part 1 of this guide.

For any queries about gestation sows feeding and housing, contact us.


Gestation Sows Management - Part 2
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Gestation Sows Management - Part 2
In this second part of this guide,  learn how to detect heat and the 8 actionable steps for a successful insemination program.
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Gestation Sow Management Part 1 link

Gestation Sow Management – Part 1

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