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Ketchem: Sow mortality issues tied partly to labor

A swine ‘information solutions’ company sees increasing sow mortality in farrowing houses tied partly to ag labor issues.

Ron Ketchem with Swine Management Services of Fremont, Nebraska says there’s a high turnover of labor and that affects hog production. He tells Brownfield Ag News, “We just don’t have enough labor in a lot of our sow farms to get the daily things done along with the other things like sanitation and walking pens and doing those things. And our people are not as trainable as I think they used to be.”

Ketchem says there are more injuries related to the dew claw at the back of the sows foot getting caught in slats when they’re laying down, “Then when they get up the sow pushes on ‘em and they tear that off causing an injury which is very hard to cure. And a lot of times we’ll end up having to euthanize that sow.”

He says management comes down to selection of gilts, “Make sure they have the right toe sizes, they have uniform feet. Then, in some farms I work with now we’re actually trimming the feet. We recognize the sow’s got a long dew claw. We cut the dew claw. We trim it off. Or, we cut the toe and make ‘em even.”

Ketchem says there are also concerns about the increased mycotoxins in corn fed to hogs and the overall nutrition of sows that could be contributing to those injuries, “Some of us think that the higher death loss and some of the things that we’re seeing is maybe related to mycotoxins or even unknown we don’t know about. There’s not a lot of research being done or how do we go about handling them.”

Ketchem was a presenter at the 2020 Missouri Pork Expo.

Interview with Ron Ketchem

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