A gilt is a young female pig and a sow is a reproductively active female pig.
These can be talked about in two categories: Grandparent stock sows (GP) and Parent stock sows (PS).
GP sows are pure breeds used in crossbreeding programmes while PS sows produce pigs for pork.
Parent stock sows are usually got after cross-breeding with GP sows. Every breeder has his own choices, depending on the customer preferences.
However, the globally known breeds that must constitute a potential hybrid for use as parent stock, are Landrace and Yorkshire.
The gilts and sows which are commonly used in commercial production of fattening pigs are First Generation gilts of Landrace and Yorkshire. These are highly prolific due to their high fertility rate and with enviable mothering ability.
Commonly, pure breeds are owned by breeders and their task is to cross-breed them and then select the most excellent individuals, basing on a standard criteria for sale to pork producers.
Due to the need for study and selecting highly performing individuals, gilts are best bought at six months of age.
Why is this so?
- The gilt has a full record of its genetic performance and abilities regarding feed conversion, weight gain and disease resistance.
- The gilt is at an age when fatteners are sold and should, therefore, be of a minimum weight of 100kg. Here, one can confirm the possibility of the fatteners reaching minimum slaughter weight of between 30 to 40kg at six months.
- The record on production costs from birth to six months is available and therefore, there is ease with computation and, comparing profitability before choosing to purchase the pig.
- The pig cannot be affected by stress during transportation, change of feed, management and climate, since it is grown. This makes breeding pigs costly and a sophisticated job that should be performed by only those with adequate knowledge about the market, its genetic requirements and the science of breeding pigs.
In Uganda, breeding as an activity has many issues and the country still lacks typical breeders at the moment. This explains the increased importation of breeding pigs.