You know there’s a price to pay for sow mortality, but sometimes the costs are less evident than others. Here Tim Loula, veterinarian with the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minn., lists the following five costs of sow mortality.

1. Reduced total annual pig output.

2. Decreased income from cull-sow sales.

3. Increased annual gilt replacement costs.

4. Tendency to affect sow-herd parity structure, which reduces total annual production.

5. Increased incidental costs, including labor to remove carcasses from the facility, rendering costs and/or composting costs.

Loula believes that producers should be able to achieve a normal sow mortality/attrition rate of 5 percent or less annually.

“In nearly all cases, a thorough investigation of all potential causes will uncover management, culling and husbandry practices that can be changed to improve the problem and get sow mortality rates back in line,” says Loula.

What are the primary reasons today for a sow to be culled from the herd?

Minnesota swine veterinarian Paul Yeske says that lameness is one of the leading reasons. “It probably should not be, but it is.”

Illinois swine veterinarian Joe Connor says you can break down culling reasons into voluntary and involuntary categories.

Voluntary, he explains, would include reasons related to performance, such as parity and age, while involuntary would include such factors as lameness. Connor says producers should concentrate on management techniques that work to reduce the involuntary culls.