I received a comment the other day from John enquiring about the instincts of newborn piglets, he asked;
Can you enlighten me… When I watched piglets being born, it intrigued me to observe that invariably they made their way to the belly of the sow where the teats were and not to the sows back, I would be pleased if you can confirm whether I am right or not?
Thanks John for this interesting question – I hope that I can enlighten you as I was lucky enough to be at the birth of my first set of piglets and saw how they behaved.
When the sow (Cagney) laid down to give birth it was much easier for the piglets to go straight to her teats. I recall that the piglets didn’t have too much trouble finding the teats, although I have to say that it is hard to fully recall and I know that when you are there it is very tempting to pick up the piglets and place them near the teats.
The other sow (Lacy) stood up to give birth and then she was aggressive towards the piglets so they didn’t get a chance to start suckling straight away as we had to move the piglets out of the way until Lacy had finished giving birth. We then had to introduce the piglets carefully to the sow as she was displaying aggressive tendencies towards them. This was a long drawn out process so her piglets didn’t get a chance to suckle very quickly after they were born.
What amazed me about the newborn piglets was how quickly they stood up and were able to confidently move about. They immediately started to make little grunting noises and sniff with their snouts in an attempt to find their mothers teats. They instinctively knew how to suckle and whilst trying to find the teats would suckle on the mothers skin as they moved around the sows body trying to locate the teats.
Although I was there at the birth of the two litters of piglets, the two births happened that quick that I didn’t get a chance to video the occasion.
I am hoping that my sows are in pig again as we recently hired a boar, so I will try to video the event next time and will observe closely what the piglets instinctively do first and which direction they head in.
The gestation period for a pig is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days so there isn’t that long before I can observe the instincts of the newborn piglets.