Taming Gilts – The Approach Test

Partner(s): Choice
Industry(ies): Swine

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Michel Launay, European Technical Manager, explains 3 types of approach to gilts in quarantine: - Visual - Sonorous - Olfactory


Michel Launay


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Today’s breeding advice focuses on taming gilts in isolation and the approach test. The objective is to have a calm sow herd that is confident in you and not scared when you approach them. For this, Choice recommends at least 1 daily visit with the isolation animals to improve the interaction with the future breeders. Choice also recommends direct contact with the gilts every 2 days to improve the relationship.

Visual interactions

This relationship grows day after day and in stages: we start with the visual interactions, seeing you on a daily basis. For direct contact, entry into the pen should be done calmly to keep from exciting the gilts. Next, it is necessary to be identified by the animals by walking slowly in the pen. Pigs do not have good vision. Although their field of vision is wide (310°), their visual sharpness is poor. It is important to move around the pen slowly.

Sound interactions

We encourage the development of sound interactions as well. This can be done by talking to the gilts. Pigs hear very well and they can develop a recognition of your voice. Do not hesitate to whistle. Pigs perceive high-pitched sounds better.

Contact with the animal

As you stand in the middle of the pen, you will notice that the gilts will start to approach you and seeking contact. As you continue with the taming process, we recommend that you squat in the pen to be at the same height as the gilts. For safety purposes, be sure you squat down with your back against a wall. Indeed, being at the same height as the animal reduces their fear of you. You can reach out towards the gilts and wait for them to initiate contact with you. Usually, the first contact is made in less than 10 seconds. If some gilts remain clustered in the opposite corner of the pen, it is because they are not yet confident that you are trustworthy.  

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