Research Swine

Research Swine Reproduction and Growing Cycle

    aerial view of Animal Biotech farm

ABI is a completely integrated farrow to finish swine complex where all phases of production occur on a continuous basis on the same farm.

All Phases of reproduction, feeding, growth and health occur continuously in separate buildings that are integrated into the entire process.  The purpose is to ensure a steady supply of research swine at all ages, sexes and weights throughout the year. Above is an aerial view of the farm complex.

Reproduction and Growth Flow Chart:

Reproduction and Growth Flow Chart 

Gestation and Breeding:

gestation and breeding

ABI maintains a closed breeding herd of Yorkshire crossbred research quality swine which means that we do not bring in live replacement breeders.  Genetic improvement is accomplished by obtaining selected lines of boar semen, which is used to artificially inseminate (A.I.) the breeding gilts and sows.  Approximately 50 sows and gilts are inseminated each month and bred females are first maintained in gestation crates for about 40 days. Refer to the above photo. This insures a stress-free environment with maximum implantation and litter size. Next the pregnant animals are moved to open gestation pens where they remain in groups until a week before they are due to farrow.  From breeding until farrowing is about 114 days.



Each month the bred animals are transferred to the farrowing units where they will give birth to their litters.  The average litter size at birth is 11; each piglet weighs approximately 3 lbs. and the length of time that they are in the crate with their mothers is 3 weeks.  During this time in the crate, the piglets will grow very rapidly, doubling their weight every 6 days until they are weaned.  At 21 days of age all piglets are weaned from their mothers in the farrowing house (weighing 17-18 lbs. each) and transferred to the nursery.  Once the piglets are weaned, the mothers will come into a post weaning estrus approximately 4 days later.  After the litters are weaned the females are transferred back to the breeding and gestation complex for another cycle of breeding.  It takes 5 months from breeding until weaning for the process to begin again.  Therefore, each breeding female will experience 2.2 cycles per year.



Pigs enter the nursery at 12-18 lbs. and are group housed.  They will grow here while eating a special high energy protein diet for 4 weeks.



Pigs leave the nursery weighing approximately 40 pounds and are transferred to the growing houses where they are compatibly grouped. During the growing phase pigs will be fed special high energy, high protein rations specifically designed for this age and weight group. Pigs will grow from approximately 40 pounds to 160 pounds in about 6 weeks.



From this point on the pigs will remain in these same growing pens but will enter the finishing phase of growth.  In this phase, they will be fed a finishing ration and will grow from 160 pounds to 250 pounds of body weight in about 7 weeks. Once pigs reach 250 pounds and are not sold for research, they will be shipped to the meat market. Also at this time, females with superior conformation and body structure will be selected for replacement breeders and enter the breeding herd.



The Value of Animal Growth Charts in Biomedical Research

Our porcine growth chart allows clients to know the expected rate (average daily gain) of growth over time of our Yorkshire cross bred swine herd at all ages.