Development of a Sow Body Condition Scoring Tool for Pork Producers

Kenneth J. Stalder, Faculty, Animal Science

Situation:

A key to maintaining a productive herd is maintaining the body condition of sows after a productive lactation. To this point pork producers and sow herd managers have relied on drawings to evaluate and to teach workers how to evaluate a sows body condition within their herd. A better tool was needed to help producers better visualize and train their employees how to evaluate sow body condition.

Objective:

The objective of this project was to develop a pictorial series demonstrating sow body condition changes on the same animal in order to help producers and their employees to better visualize what changes in body condition actually looks like on the live animal.

Activities/Output:

I was co-primary investigator on a grant obtained from the National Pork Board to develop a body condition scoring poster and to evaluate the economics of adding weight to cull sows. Twenty-nine sows in relatively poor body condition were purchased and fed. As the sows added weight and attained an additional body condition score, they were photographed. At the end of the study, only a few of the sows had gone from the lowest body condition score (1) to the highest (5) so that we had a pictorial display of the same sow at every body condition score. The best set of pictures displaying the change in body condition score from 1 to 5 was chosen and developed into a body condition scoring poster. Because there are many Hispanic workers employed by pork producers, the poster has both English and Spanish translations displayed for better understanding by all people.

Impact/Outcomes:

This poster was distributed through the National Hog Farmer Magazine where corporate sponsorship for its distribution was attained. The poster was distributed to over 26,000 pork producers and enthusiasts throughout the U.S. Additional copies were printed and are being distributed by the National Pork Board. Additionally, the posters are currently being translated into Chinese and Finnish and will be distributed in China and Finland in 2007 - 2008.

2007
150 Iowa Pork Industry Center

 

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