Tips For Feeding A Slow Growing Runt

I was recently asked for some tips and advice about feeding a slow growing piglet.

“Dear Sara, I have a runt of a litter and he is growing very slow.  Do you have any advice? Jeff”

Tips and advice for feeding slow growing runts of litter.

  • A good tip is when the piglets are weaned (about 8 weeks old) from the sow leave the runt with the sow. One, this will help to stop the sow from getting mastitis and two, the runt will grow well and quickly on the sows milk and you can also supplement the milk from the sow with creep feed for the runt as well.
  • When piglets are very young they feed from the sow little and often so depending on the age of the piglet I think I would make up small amounts of milk and feed little and often.
  • Dependent on age bottle feeding can take place every 2- 4 hours.
  • Piglets can be fed sow milk powder, sow’s milk or baby milk.
  • Make sure the milk is at blood temperature.
  • A 3 week old piglet would get about 75-100ml 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Try to get the piglet to drink from a bowl as soon as possible so that it is less reliant on you.
  • Also consider feeding the runt separately so that the runt is not competing with other piglets. I recently hand reared a few piglets as the sows only had 14 teats and each had at least 16 piglets. 3 or 4 piglets from 2/3 weeks of age very quickly learnt to run out of the barn where they were with the sow and other piglets and into another room in the barn where they were given warm milk in a tray on the floor.
  • When the piglet is 7/8lbs try to move the piglet onto solid milk feed (creep feed) as this will avoid overfeeding and the possibility of the piglet getting the scouring illness. I would introduce the creep feed a little at a time as a sudden change in a pigs diet can lead to scours.
  • Once the piglet is on dry food it will then need fresh water although I have been recommended to have water available for hand reared piglets at all time which is advice I have always followed.
  • If the piglet is still very young, I would try to make the piglet as independent as possible so I would possibly start with the bottle feeding and then see if the piglet will take some of the milk from a bowl. They learn quickly to do this.
  • When they are old enough to be on creep feed, if you are still giving them milk, I would also have creep fed available for the runt.
  • I would also give the piglet a piece of turf with grass and soil and the piglet will root through this and get iron that will help prevent scours from occurring.

If you have any advice for Jeff about feeding a slow growing piglet then please leave a comment.

A useful book for a new pig keeper and breeder is the book Starting With Pigs by Andy Case.

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