With summer drawing to a close, many successful show gilts will be retired. But, success in the show ring doesn’t guarantee that female will make a great sow. Many factors including, condition, care and even genetics will affect that gilt’s future in the farrowing barn. The Showpig.com team caught up with Lynsee Shaffer of Shaffer’s Goldrush to get her tips to make your show gilts into brood sows.
1) Carefully, study your show gilt and take into consideration comments from judges at the shows. Know the areas she is good and know the areas she needs improvement.
2) Study genetics on your gilt and potential boars that you like.
3) Call the owner to talk about the boars you are interested in. Better yet, if you are able travel, view the boars in person.
4) Study the strengths of the boar and areas he needs to be protected. Make sure this matches your gilt.
5) Structure is hard to fix, so be sure that soundness is a priority.
6) Study the foot shape and size. Study how square they are at the knee, how wide they are at their blade and down their top. Study the width out of their hip, and how square they are from hock to hock. Also, see how long of a stride the boar takes on the move and how level design the boar is. Just take your time studying the boar to make sure he has the characteristics to improve your gilt.
7) Breed to make hogs that you like, not what is considered trendy because that may change from one year to the next. If you like sound, pretty hogs, find a sound, pretty boar. If you like thick, wide hogs, then find a thick, wide boar to use.
8) It is important to use boars from boar studs or breeders that you trust.
9) Also, it is very important to have the show gilts in breeding condition. They don’t need to look like show gilts anymore. It is OK for them to slim down and look like a breeding female should: less fat!
10) Watch your heat dates and carefully determine which collection day you need to order.
Photo credit: Katie McGuire of Powerful Dezigns