A uniform group of well-sorted pigs is a joy to see. However, all that sorting and resorting may be doing those pigs more harm than good.

You know about the animal’s need to re-establish its pecking order every time it enters a new group. That added stress adds days to market.

So what’s the solution? Simply stop sorting says Harold Gonyou, a research scientist with the Prairie Swine Centere in Saskatoon, Canada. “Sorting is not very important,” he contends.

Gonyou has done extensive research on the subject both in Canada and at the University of Illinois. A recent Kansas State University study confirms Gonyou’s findings. “Sorting is a waste of time for the producer and it can extend the animal’s grow/finish period,” he contends.

The need to sort pigs was a result of limit-feeding practices and the increased competition it created. Today’s practices provide the pig with continuous access to feed. A pig can and will find a less competitive time to eat if it needs to.

Gonyou acknowledges that some sorting is still needed and useful. For example, sorting barrows and gilts for split-sex feeding in the grow/finish stage. Very small just-weaned pigs should be sorted going into the nursery so they can receive a diet and environment to boost their growth rate. Also, gestation sows should be sorted to accommodate limit feeding. But even then, new feeding systems like electronic sow feeders are making that practice obsolete.

His point, get used to seeing a little size variation and resist the urge to sort those pigs.