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Swine farming phases: From maternity to finishing

Swine farming involves various crucial stages for the healthy development and growth of pigs, from birth to the finishing phase. Each phase of the rearing process plays a vital role in determining the final quality of pork products, directly impacting the profitability and efficiency of the operation. Understanding the different phases of swine farming, from maternity to finishing, is essential for producers to ensure animal welfare, herd health, and food safety.


The maternity division oversees the reproduction, maternity, and weaning of piglets. Piglets spend approximately 21 to 28 days in the Weaner Production Unit (WPU) after birth. Gestation lasts approximately 114 days, equivalent to 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. The process involves transferring females to the maternity sector 5 to 7 days before the expected delivery date to acclimate to the environment. After birth, care for newborns includes cleaning their mouth, nose, and body to remove fetal membranes. If necessary, assisting piglets in their first nursing ensures colostrum consumption for passive immunity, as colostrum is a source of active immunoglobulins.


The nursery section is responsible for the initial care of the animals. Piglets enter this phase after weaning, weighing 8 kg, and remain for 42 days until they reach a minimum average of 20 kg each. They leave the nursery at an average age of 64 days. Weaning weight directly influences the future performance of piglets, as those weaned at higher weights show better performance in the nursery and subsequently greater growth. It is important to avoid mixing more than three different litters in a batch to minimize conflicts. However, to reduce stress and prevent stereotypical behaviors, environmental enrichment with straw or chains is an alternative, providing a suitable environment for animals to express their behavior and promoting animal welfare. Good practices in this phase include gentle handling of animals, keeping them separated by sex or weight to avoid hierarchy issues, and ensuring greater uniformity in the batch. In the first fifteen days, it is essential to rigorously control the temperature, maintaining it between 26°C and 30°C through curtain management, heaters with bells, or lamps, which is crucial for thermal comfort and air renewal, directly affecting performance and final weight of the animals.


The finishing phase is responsible for fattening the animals from exiting the nursery until the slaughter phase, with a final live weight between 100 and 120 kg. Pigs enter the finishing phase with an average age of 63 days and exit after 114 days of housing. Finishing is divided into two phases: rearing, where absorbed nutrients are allocated to growth and lean meat deposition, and the final phase until they reach the slaughter weight. To ensure proper sanitary management, pens should be cleaned daily, aiming for dryness and scraping, targeting animal health and welfare. In all rearing phases, biosecurity measures, prophylactic management, and animal welfare practices should be implemented to ensure the quality of the final product and food safety.

One way to ensure efficiency and food safety in this production process is through traceability in the production chain.


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