HOUSING                                           PIH-69


               Individual Mating Facilities for Swine

Wayne Singleton, Purdue University
Gerald R. Bodman, University of Nebraska
Don Levis, University of Nebraska

Joe D. Crenshaw, North Dakota State University
Rick D. Jones, University of Georgia
M. Ray McKinnie, North Carolina A.&T. State University
Tom Rhoades, Kingston, Illinois

     A workable production schedule and an efficient mating  pro-
gram  are  important to a successful pork production system. Each
producer has management circumstances to consider when planning a
breeding  facility. One important consideration for all producers
is return on investment.  The cost associated with an empty  far-
rowing  crate or finishing space must be recovered by the produc-
tion from those crates or spaces which  are  occupied.  Buildings
must  be  utilized  at or near capacity for maximum return on the
investment. A breeding  facility  must  allow  development  of  a
breeding  and  management program which consistently results in a
predictable farrowing rate and litter size that ensure an  animal
for  every available space.  This level of performance will yield
maximum  return  on  investment  and  an  even  flow  of  animals
throughout the production system.

     When converting from a pen-mating to  an  individual  mating
system,  consider  the benefits and limitations listed in Table 1
(individual mating also is referred to as hand  mating).  Indivi-
dual mating is considered an integral part of the breeding facil-
ities described in this fact sheet.  The  primary  focus  is  the
breeding  facility itself.  However, a well-trained and motivated
employee is of equal importance. Consider  an  incentive  program
for  employees  when  farrowing rates consistently exceed a given
level during each breeding period.

Guidelines for Planning an
Individual Mating Facility

     Newly constructed or remodeled facilities designed for indi-
vidual mating should be planned with the known benefits and limi-
tations in mind. Below are some factors to  consider  during  the
planning process.

     General Layout: Plan for animal comfort, worker  safety  and
labor efficiency. Design the system so one person can safely move
animals and assist with breeding. Use narrow alleyways to prevent
animals from turning around. Design gate latches which are easily
opened and closed. One design is shown in Figure 1. Provide  ade-
quate  lighting for observation of animals. Use a 2-tube, 40-watt
fluorescent fixture for each 200 square feet of  floor  space  or
one 100-watt incandescent lamp for each 60 square feet. Provide a
convenient, well-lit area for recording  mating  information.   A
chalkboard  or clipboard is an excellent way to monitor boar use.
Develop a system which indicates current reproductive  status  of
females  (weaned-not  mated, mated once, mated twice, etc.). This
can be accomplished with paint stick marks or unique placement of
individual  sow cards. Clothes pins attached to a wire over indi-
vidual crates to secure sow cards work well for some producers.

     Production Schedules: Size the unit to  accommodate  animals
for  the  desired number of matings per breeding period (see PIH-
113, Calculating Swine Schedules). Also  provide  space  for  the
desired  number  of  animals  to be housed in the unit during the
pre- and post-breeding periods.  Maintain gilts in this area  for
2 to 4 weeks prior to breeding and also retain mated animals here
for 25 to 30 days post-breeding for  their  21-day  heat  checks.
Plan  additional  space  for  short  term  housing  of non-cyclic
females and early weaned  sows.  Generally,  one  should  provide
space  in  the  breeding  area  for  females equal to 140% of the
desired number of farrowings for the period.   Provide  one  boar
space  for each desired pregnancy per period. For example, if the
production unit is designed for 12 farrowings per  week,  provide
12 boar spaces in the breeding facility.

     Boar Facilities: House boars individually, either in  crates
or  pens. Individual housing increases longevity because it elim-
inates injuries resulting from fighting and mounting.  Individual
housing  also  allows control of feed intake, and therefore, size
and condition of boars.  Individually housed  boars  are  usually
easier  and  safer to handle. Ejaculation frequency is controlled
because homosexual activity is eliminated.   This  results  in  a
more  consistent  and  predictable level of boar fertility.  Pens
should be approximately 40 to 50 sq ft and crates 7 ft  long  and
28  in wide (24 in for younger boars). Eight-foot-long crates may
be more appropriate for breeds or crosses which  are  larger  and
longer  when  mature.  Do not house unfamiliar boars side-by-side
in crates, because injuries may  result  from  fighting.   Crates
make  efficient use of space but are not recommended unless boars
are used at least on a weekly basis. If not  used  weekly,  boars
must be turned out of their crates for exercise.

Table  1.  Benefits  and  limitations  of  individual  mating  in
environmentally controlled facilities.

Benefits                                   Limitations

Known breeding dates enhance scheduling    Requires dependable, well-
scheduling of facilities and labor.        trained, and motivated labor.

A more detailed record system can be       Specialized facilities are  
utilized and reproductive success or       required and may be costly  
failure can be detected at an earlier      to build and operate.

A specialized building which generally     Specialized buildings are  
accompanies an individual mating system    not easily converted to other
can be designed to correct for a depres-   uses.
-sion in reproductive rate associated  
with extremes in weather conditions.

Boars can be penned and managed as
individuals, which extends their
useful lifetime.

The number of matings per boar can
be controlled.

Females can be double mated at the  
correct time in relation to the onset
of estrus.

Selective matings are possible.

Land required for breeding lots can be
used for other purposes.

Farrowing rate based upon first estrus  
services is generally increased as  
compared to pen mating.

The spread in days within which a given
breeding group is mated is more easily  

     Sow Facilities: Research data are  inconclusive  as  to  the
best  system for housing post-weaned sows. Crates provide a means
of controlling feed intake  and  reducing  stress  by  preventing
fighting  when  sows  are regrouped after weaning.  However, each
sow must be moved from her crate once or  twice  daily  for  heat
detection.  If  sows  are grouped in pens during the post-weaning
period provide 19 sq ft/sow and 16 sq ft/gilt. The number per pen
should  be  kept  low  at about 5 or 6/pen. When penned sows come
into heat, they have an opportunity to exhibit  estrous  behavior
(standing  and  mounting). Sows observed to be in standing estrus
can then be moved to the boar area for  breeding.  The  remaining
sows  can be moved to the boars for a more intense heat detection
program. Fighting among post-weaned sows  kept  in  pens  can  be
reduced  by  delaying  movement  of sows from the farrowing house
until after nightfall and by placing a mature boar in  their  pen
for  two  days. Return the boar to his housing area prior to com-
mencement of heat detection and breeding.

     Some  breeding  facilities  are  designed   to   accommodate
replacement gilts from the time of selection at 5 1/2 to 6 months
of age while others are designed to house them only for  1  to  3
weeks  prior  to  mating. (See PIH-8, Managing Sows and Gilts for
Efficient Reproduction, and  PIH-89,  Managing  the  Gilt  Pool).
Maintain a gilt pool large enough to guarantee the desired number
of bred gilts for each week.  By adding gilts and  selling  those
in  the pool that have not cycled after 25 to 30 days, a constant
number of females can be maintained without  allowing  non-cyclic
gilts  to remain for long periods of time. There is little reduc-
tion in market price for such gilts if they are sold in  the  250
to 275 lb weight range.

     Temperature Requirement: Careful design of  the  ventilation
system  is  essential to meet the needs of animals throughout the
year, especially during extreme weather  conditions.   High  tem-
peratures  (above 80o  to 85o F) may cause lowered semen quality in
boars, reduced farrowing rates and  litter  size,  and  increased
embryonic  death  loss  in  females.  Heat  stress also can cause
anestrus in females and decreased libido in boars. Therefore,  in
most  geographical regions, some method of cooling should be pro-
vided during the hot months of the year. Cooling  can  be  accom-
plished  with  sprinklers  coupled with air movement, ventilation
fans, evaporative coolers, earth tempered air or geothermal  sys-
tems (see PIH-87, Cooling Swine).

     Less is known about the influence of low  temperatures,  but
breeding  units  should  be  maintained  at  a minimum of 55o F to
reduce maintenance requirements of the animals and  to  eliminate
water  freezing problems. During winter months, animal density in
the building may not be  sufficient  to  generate  adequate  heat
while allowing sufficient ventilation to control moisture levels.
Therefore, some  buildings  may  require  supplemental  heat  for
animal comfort and replacement of heat removed by ventilation.

     Whether or not swine require a given  amount  of  light  for
optimum  reproduction  is  unknown.  However,  providing adequate
light at all times to enable observation of animals in an  undis-
turbed state enhances animal management.

     Breeding Area: For successful mating, provide boars and sows
with  a  slip-free  surface  which can be easily cleaned and kept
dry. In most building layouts the breeding area  itself  is  con-
sidered  a neutral zone and animals occupy this space only during
heat checking and mating. The  flooring  can  be  slotted,  woven
wire,  plastic-covered  wire,  solid  concrete  with a brushed or
grooved finish or a surface covered with rubber  mats.  If  woven
wire  is  chosen,  consider  the  larger diameter (5/16 in or 1/0
gauge) wire rolled flat on one side to improve traction.

Physical Arrangements and Management

     Consider  environmental  conditions,  production   schedule,
management  ability  and  personal  preference  when  selecting a
building and floor plan. Floor plans described below  incorporate
many  of the suggested guidelines. Consult with Extension person-
nel and PIH-28 Sow Gestation and  Boar  Housing,  for  additional
arrangements.  General breeding facility design criteria are out-
lined in Table 2.

Table 2. Basic design criteria for the breeding facility.

o  Pen space

    Boars-50 sq ft
    Sows-19 sq ft
    Gilts-16 sq ft

o  Crate size

    Boars-young 24 in W x 46 in H x 7 ft L
             -mature 28 in W x 48 in H x 8 ft L
    Sows-24 in W x 42 in H x 7 ft L
    Gilts-22 in W x 42 in H x 7 ft L

o  Floor surface for breeding area

     Slip resistant, cleanable

o  Pen partitions

     Breeding area and boars-4 ft H
     Sows-36 in H
     Use vertical rods with 4 in spacing
     Clearance under gates and partitions-4 in

o  Minimum floor slope-0.5% (1/16 in/ft)

o  Minimum temperature for individually housed animals--55o F

o  Alley width

     Single animals-24 in to 28 in
     Groups-36 in to 48 in

o  Ventilation-minimum rates as listed  in PIH-60 or MWPS-8

o  Do not recess feed trough more than 2 in below floor level

Design 1

     The design shown  in  Figure  2  houses  replacement  gilts,
postweaned sows and boars. It was designed for animal comfort and
labor efficiency. Features of this arrangement are summarized  in
Table 3.

     Sows are generally weaned  on  Thursday  and  moved  to  the
breeding  room.  They  are  grouped  in pens of four according to
size, condition and aggressiveness. Crates serve as  free  stalls
or  rear  gates  can  be closed if desired. Replacement gilts are
moved into the room 1 to 2 weeks prior to breeding. Estrus detec-
tion  commences  on the following Monday morning, with a majority
of the matings occurring on Tuesday and Wednesday.

     Females in heat (being mounted by pen mates) are  moved  one
at  a  time  to  the  breeding aisle and mated to the appropriate
boar. Remaining females are moved into the breeding  aisle  where
fence-line  boar  contact  is provided.  Those which react to the
back pressure test are mated and moved back into  their  pen.  If
desired,  the  boar  can  be  moved to the breeding aisle for the
final heat check.  Swinging gates which divide the breeding  area
allow for several matings to be in progress at the same time.

     The number of sows which can be bred in an hour depends upon
the  number  of females in the group, how many are in estrus at a
given breeding time and the number of  breeding  pens.   If  four
breeding pens are provided, one person can heat check a group and
breed up to 15 or 20 females per hour.

     Alternative Layouts for Design 1.  A variety of ventilation,
manure removal and flooring systems can be incorporated into this
design according to individual situations. Crates could  be  sub-
stituted  for pens for boar housing and the additional space used
for sow or gilt pens. In the post-weaning  area,  short  (24  in)
stalls could be used instead of the full length (7 ft) .

Table 3. Description of breeding facility Design 1.                    
o  Boar pens                                                           

    5 ft W x 8 ft L x 4 ft H                                            
    Vertical pipe or bar pen partitions                                
    7 ft concrete slats with 1 in spacing or 1/0 guage or 5/16 in     
     diameter woven wire                                                       
    Recessed feed trough in back pen partition                        
    Nipple waterer

o  Breeding aisle                                                              
    8 ft W (one swinging partition gate for every 2 or 3 boar pens)       
    Brushed finish, center crowned concrete or 1/0 guage woven wire floor       
o  Sow pens              
    13.5 ft x 8 ft pens with 4 crates, 2 ft W or 10 ft x 8 ft pens without  
    Continuous concrete water/feed trough   

Advantages:                             Disadvantages:     

Convenient animal movement.             Breeding activity in one pen can   
Estrus can be observed without          limit movement of boars.                
 removing sows from crates.     

Design 2

     The design shown in Fig. 3 houses only  boars  and  breeding
pens.  All open and gestating females are located elsewhere.  The
design details are listed in Table 4.

     Generally, sows are weaned on Thursday and moved to  facili-
ties  adjacent  to  the breeding barn. Replacement gilts could be
housed in facilities adjacent to the weaned sows.  Estrus  detec-
tion  commences on the following Monday morning by moving females
to a small pen adjacent to the breeding barn. Most of the matings
occur  on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Females are heat checked in one
of the four breeding pens.  A female in heat will stand  next  to
the  boar in the heat check boar stall. The heat check boar faces
the wall; therefore, the female usually remains in  the  breeding
pen  while the center alley gate is open for the breeding boar to
enter. Boar movement is circular, i.e. boars enter  the  breeding
pens  from the center alleyway and return to their stalls through
a narrow (28 in) alleyway by the wall.  After  the  females  have
been  heat  checked and (or) bred they are moved to a pen outside
the breeding barn. When four breeding pens are used at  least  16
to 20 females can be bred per hour.

     Alternative Layouts for Design 2.  This  style  of  breeding
facility  can  be used by any size swine operation. The number of
boar spaces (crates) is matched  to  the  size  of  the  breeding
group.  Flexibility  of  the  design allows for construction of a
breeding-gestation facility in phases. The first phase is to con-
struct a boar/breeding barn and keep all females in outdoor lots.
The second phase is to attach a sow house to the boar barn  which
houses  bred  females  indoors during the first 28 days of gesta-
tion. The last phase of construction would be to add enough space
to house all females indoors as shown in Figure 4.

Table 4. Description of breeding facility Design 2.                    

o  Boar Crates                                                         
    28 in W x 8 ft L x 4 ft H                                         
    1 1/4 in vertical pipe partitions                                 
    Concrete slats, 1 in slot                                         
      recessed feed trough in concrete                                
o  Breeding Pen                                                        
    8 ft W x 9 ft or 9 ft x 10 ft L x 4 ft H                          
    1/0 in guage woven wire floor                                     
    2 in vertical pipe partitions with 4 in spacing next to boar stalls

Advantages:                              Disadvantages:                  
Breeding activity does not               All females must be moved  
 limit boar movement.                     through breeding facility for
                                          heat detection
Narrow alleys and general design         Usable only for weekly breeding  
 provide for safe boar handling.          unless boar crates are replaced  
Mature boars are used for heat            with pens or boars are exercised  
 detection and younger boars can be       in breeding pens.                 
 used for actual matings.                  
Rapid immobilization exhibited                                               
 by estrous .                                                        

Design 3

     This arrangement (Figure 5) provides  space  for  boars  and
females  to  be  located  in close proximity from weaning up to 4
weeks post-breeding.  Features of this design  are  described  in
Table  5.   In  typical applications of this design, one boar pen
and 5 sow crates are provided for each female  to  be  bred  each
week.  Each set of 5 crates houses a newly weaned sow and females
which have been mated 1 to 4 weeks earlier. Thus, with  a  weekly
breeding schedule one newly weaned sow is added and one sow which
is 4 weeks post-breeding is moved out. Since sows  are  generally
held  here  for  3  or 4 weeks post-breeding, more total building
space is required, but the need for an equal amount of space in a
gestation  facility  is  eliminated. Additional space is required
for sows which return to heat and those which are late in return-
ing to estrus after weaning.

     When possible, newly weaned  sows  are  placed  in  a  stall
corresponding  to  the  boar to which she will be mated. Sows are
backed out of their stalls for heat detection  and  mating.  Boar
movement  between  pens  is  facilitated by providing gates which
open from either end.

     Gilts  are generally housed within  the  building  in  pens.
When detected in heat, they are brought to a boar pen for mating.


     A properly planned and managed breeding facility can greatly
influence  the  reproductive  efficiency  of  the  breeding herd.
Breeding facilities need not be highly sophisticated to be effec-
tive  but  they  must  be designed so animals are comfortable and
work routines are easily, quickly and safely accomplished.

Table 5. Description of breeding facility Design 3.                    
o  Boar breeding pens                                                  
   8 ft W x 9 ft L x 4 ft H                           
   Vertical pipe or bar partitions (4 in spacing)     
   5/16 in diameter or 1/0 guage woven wire floor     
   Stainless steel feeder in corner of pen partition  
   Nipple waterer                                     
o  Sow stalls                                          
   24 in W x 7 ft L                                   
   Concrete slats                                     
   Easy open and close rear gates                     
   Continuous concrete water/feed trough              
Advantages:                              Disadvantages:       
Simple construction.                     Boar pen serves as breeding pen,
Since females are retained in             therefore floor must be designed  
 facility for 4 weeks, repeat breeders    for good footing during mating.   
 are easily detected and rebred.         Boar movement from one pen to       
Very little animal movement is required.  another is difficult.              
                                         Sows within a breeding              
                                          group are interspersed             
                                          throughout the facility.           
                                         Good identification is              
                                         Females must be backed              
                                          into breeding pen.                  

Figure 1. Gate and latch. Opens both ways and latch stays with gate.

Figure 2. Breeding facility which houses boars, postweaned sows
and replacement gilts.

Figure 3. Individual mating facility with potential expansion
(see top for boar stalls, bottom for boar pens).

Figure 4. Individual mating facility with weaned sow and ges-
tation housing attached (Levis, Univ. of Nebraska).

Figure 5. Individual mating facility which houses boars and
females from weaning through 28-day post-mating.

NEW 6/92 (7M)

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