Gilts are as much of an investment as they are a gamble in determining a swine operation's productivity. They can cost as much as $250 per head, and their true breeding ability often is unknown. Because gilts are the largest breeding group in most herds, successful conception and farrowing of gilts is essential to meeting production targets.

Identifying gilt heat cycles is an important component of successful breeding. It is critical to recognize first estrus so subsequent periods of estrus can be determined. Otherwise, gilts will be observed as randomly cycling, which causes poor conception rates. Consequently, when gilts fail to conceive and farrow, producers face irrecoverable costs from excessive feed, housing, labor, vaccination and non-productive days.

Increase Profits by Decreasing Gilt Pool Size

Inefficiencies in gilt pool performance can be resolved by bringing gilts into heat together through estrus synchronization.

Studies indicate MATRIX (altrenogest) effectively synchronizes estrus in sexually mature gilts for a more focused and predictable breeding herd. MATRIX provides two key economic benefits for progressive swine producers. Primarily, MATRIX improves precision in providing the number of service eligible gilts needed for each breeding. Secondly, it reduces the amount of labor required to meet those targets by minimizing cost and optimizing production.

Multiple studies report that when gilts are fed MATRIX (altrenogest 0.22% solution) for 14 days, up to 85 percent of the treated gilts exhibited estrus, compared with 18 percent of the controls 4 to 9 days after MATRIX was withdrawn. Thus, fewer gilts are needed to fill vacant spots in the breeding group. A smaller MATRIX-managed gilt pool reduces replacements needed, feed, overhead and vaccination costs and non-productive days.

MATRIX synchronizes estrus in a predictable time frame, which helps producers identify which animals have the capability of being bred. Other gilts not showing signs of estrus within the predicted time frame can be removed from the gilt pool and sent to finishers, possibly at a premium.

While each operation will need to configure their economic evaluations based on individual inputs, MATRIX definitely provides an excellent return on investment for producers.

Additional benefits of MATRIX include: Consistent stream of service-eligible gilts; Predictable breeding span; Reduced pig flow variation; Reduced weekend mating and weaning; Reduced heat detection; Increased labor efficiency and improved semen delivery scheduling; Improved artificial insemination scheduling; Improved farrowing rate

Learn more about MATRIX, the first and only product approved for synchronization of estrus in pubertal gilts, by contacting your veterinarian or animal-health provider. Or, call Intervet at 1-800-441-8272.

Dr. Charles Francisco is Senior Technical Services Specialist for Intervet Inc. This is the first in a series of three articles by Dr. Francisco discussing how MATRIX maximizes efficiencies in the breeding segment. The second installment will focus on how MATRIX helps operators meet breeding targets.