Problems associated with poor herd reproductive performance can usually be broken down into three categories, says Gary Althouse, University of Pennsylvania swine veterinarian.

  • The performance tech-niques and management of breeding personnel.
  • Sow management.
  • Boar semen management.

"Problems with herd reproductive performance can arise predominantly from within one of those categories or from any combination of the three," says Althouse.

Assessing semen quality is typically the most logical of the three places to start, he contends. That's because it's a relatively easy place to obtain quantitative diagnostic information as well as the ability to control its quality.

"Periodic monitoring of boar semen quality also can assist in your ongoing goal of optimizing the breeding herd's reproductive performance," says Althouse.