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The objective of the breeding herd is the predictable and consistent production of high quality pigs. To achieve this objective, an appropriate number of females need to be mated in each breeding week and they should maintain their pregnancy and deliver large litters. Many factors can impact achievement of optimal sow productivity, particularly breeding management. Most matings will involve artificial insemination (AI), and successful AI requires deposition into the cervix (or beyond) of sufficient viable high quality sperm at an appropriate time relative to ovulation. This is facilitated by improved knowledge of the sow's ovarian function prior to and during her oestrous period. Realization of the importance of establishing an adequate sperm reservoir in the oviduct at an appropriate time relative to ovulation has led to advances in the management of AI. The future of AI will likely involve insemination of single doses of high genetic merit semen, potentially having a reduced sperm concentration which is made possible by knowledge of the effect of site of sperm deposition on sow fertility. In particular, knowledge of when a sow is likely to ovulate during a natural or induced oestrous period will prove invaluable in the maintenance of herd productivity. This review will examine options for breeding management, including the control of oestrus and ovulation, on sow herd reproductive performance.