The uses of ultrasound on a swine farm

When using ultrasound on a swine farm, we have to understand which application is best for both male and female pigs. The correct application of ultrasound for either gender can greatly benefit the development of the farm.

The focus for sows is pregnancy diagnosis. Early pregnancy detection decreases costs on the farm. In the case of a non-pregnant sow, early detection can decrease the number of non-productive days (NPD) saving the farm a cost of up to 4€ per day, per sow.

The majority of modern ultrasound equipment today is portable, some wireless, and can be used from 23-24 days after AI (artificial insemination). See image 1-3.

Image 1, pregnant sow detected using the Duo-Scan:Go

Image 2, pregnant sow at 20 days detected using Duo-Scan:Go Plus

 Image 3, non-pregnant sow 21 days post AI detected using the Duo-Scan:Go Plus

Other scanners provide a higher-quality image allowing a reliable diagnosis (with 90% more sensitivity) from 18-19 days – see images 4 & 5. They are also more accurate when it comes to gilt puberty or litter size evaluation. Moreover, they permit the exam of ovary and follicles and the visualisation of abnormalities such as endometritis or cysts on the ovary.

 Image 4, pregnant sow detected using the ImaGo

 Image 5, empty sow at 20 days post AI

In addition to the pregnancy exam, it is also important to monitor the body condition (BCS) at different stages, at least after weaning, during the 1st month of gestation and before farrowing. There is even greater benefit when your ultrasound equipment is equipped with automatic back fat control (see image 6) and far more accurate than a Mode A scanner that gives you just a number.      

 Image 6, back fat control using the ImaGo

BCS application is important to determine the health of a sow. When a sow is too thin, she may have fertility or prolificacy trouble and when a sow is overweight, she may have trouble with her legs and farrowing. In both cases the consequence of an unhealthy sow van result in a high herd replacement.

Many genetic companies use ultrasound on pigs to monitor back fat and muscle (see image 7) before sending them to be slaughtered. Some companies are also monitoring loin and eye area measurements. Similarly, a more recent application is to monitor is the IMF (intra-muscular fat) or marbling (see image 8) in the muscle. This is important for companies as this helps them to achieve a more quality meat, resulting in more juicy and tasty pork.

Some software companies such as Biotronics – USA, have developed specific software to help pig breeding companies to proceed with these above measurements and today even the slaughterhouses are using ultrasound in their production line.

 Image 7, back fat control using the ExaGo

 Image 8, intramuscular fat, marbling, using the ExaGo

To predict whether a young boar will be a good (or not) semen producer, the farm can ultrasound genital tract permits. This is a great benefit for the farm, as they can replace 15-20% of boars under-performing.

Additional uses of ultrasound on the boar can monitor the testis and also epididymis at different levels: head, corpus, tale (see image 9 and image 10). Also, with correct ultrasound technique we can scan the three accessory sexual glands (bulbourethral, prostate and vesicular) (see image 11). It has to be performed by transrectal way with a 5/7,5 MHz probe. The results are even better with a 5/10 MHz linear transducer.

Image 9, testis anatomy


  Image 10, testis scan using the ExaGo


Image 11, location of boar's sexual glands

The software ECOTEXT evaluates the testicular parenchyma that will help the boar studs to select their males on their reproductive capability.

Therefore, ultrasound application is very important for farms to increase the revenue and efficiency for both male and female pigs.

Further information

About IMV imaging

IMV imaging, your complete animal imaging solution.

Previously trading as BCF Technology and ECM (Echo Control Medical), IMV imaging are world leaders in complete animal imaging solutions. We offer the best quality ultrasound, X-ray, digital image management (PACS) and three-dimensional imaging equipment in the world.

Developing and offering technology that will make a real difference, we are dedicated to providing the best equipment, advice, learning, customer care and technical support.

Part of the IMV Technologies Group, we have a wide offering to the entire reproduction management sector. With offices and distributors around the world, the IMV Technologies Group is made up of over 500 employees, each committed to our core values of Partnership, Innovation and Learning.

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