By Danish Genetics - Monday, 6 March 2023

Mothering ability is highly valued in the work of the breeding company Danish Genetics. That is why the company has improved the collection of data further - e.g., measuring feed intake, daily gain and as the only breeding company they register birthweight of all piglets from all litters.

Mothering abilities

We improve what the sow is already great at!

It is a very complex and exacting job to manage pigs while handling and optimizing breeding processes. Many farms are challenged in the resources for the individual pig due to growing government control, everyday bustle, and the shortage of qualified employees. Time and healthy pigs are increasing as objectives to obtain financials stability, and this emphasizes the importance of the pigs to be more independent.      

To adapt and meet breeding expectations from the market, Danish Genetics has strengthened the genetic work for mothering abilities by collecting more data for processing their genetics. This will show through uniform litters with few fluctuations in the birthweight. This contributes to less hierarchy in the pen and in the end a higher rate of piglet survival. 


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We constantly adapt to our customers’ needs. And when it happens, as in the case of strengthened mothering abilities it pays off and adds positive results that are worth processing and structuring.

Ulla Gam Hansen, technical consultant at Danish Genetics explains:

"In fact we have started to collect data from our nucleus litters that shows piglet birthweight and calculates the number of viable piglets. With our new sets of data we hold a key to determine how the future genetics must be connected."

In addition to the collected data from birthweight and viable piglets the genetic company collect data on the number of teats for their Yorkshire and Landrace animals. The number of teats are an essential parameter for the sow to be able to nurse its piglets and rates highly in terms of mothering abilities. Some sows are equipped with too few teats to handle their litter. Especially if the litter is not uniform, one will experience weak piglets and presumably higher piglet mortality.

Sustainable production is good business

 - As an industry we hold an ethical responsibility that piglets are always born vigorous and viable and raise them in a proper environment. Not surprisingly this happens in the interplay with a sow holding great mothering abilities.

Ulla Gam Hansen emphasize.

"At the same time the environmental burden affects the way we must prioritize viable and healthy piglets in our breeding work. If the level of piglet mortality is too high, we waste valuable resources."

Recent data from Danish Genetics shows that the top performing sow in average holds 21 viable piglets after day 21. A good base for future genetic work.


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German pig producer experiences the difference

At Simon Oesau's farm, Hof Oesau - an outdoor herd of sows, weaners, and finisher pigs - in Germany the mothering abilities are noticed in his Danish Genetics breeding animals.

 - at our farm we achieve a daily gain of 1.100 gram per finisher pig while our feed consumption is 2,7 feed unit. I ascribe these results in a great extend to our sows and their great mothering abilities even in our farm setup with sows and finishers that romp around outside in large common pens.

The large outdoor common pens are partly possible because of the leg and back strength shown in Danish Genetics' breeding animals. At Hof Oesau their animals live with leveling pens, feeding stalls and plenty of bedding in the pen. These routines improve the strong traits and support the pigs' muscles. 

Hof Oesau are both clarified and conscious about their use and purchase of genetic work through Breeders of Denmark, Danish Genetics Partner. 4 years ago, Simon and his staff decided to try another breeding actor. For a period, this actor was tested but they did not perform well enough in the specific conditions at the farm.

Simon appreciates the close relation to his Danish Genetics Partner. It clearly shows when they laugh, negotiate, optimizes or problem solves at Hof Oesau, Grevenkop, west of Hamburg.