Newly Born Piglets – Can They Go Outside?

I’ve received an email from Graham asking about putting his newly born piglets outside.

“Just had a litter of pigs born will they go outside if it is muddy or shall I bring them in?”

Here is my response to the question and also a response from another reader.

Hi Graham,
Congratulations on the birth of your piglets. Where did the sow farrow, outdoors or inside? If it was outside then I would make sure that the shelter has plenty of fresh clean straw and bales around it for insulation and to keep the piglets protected from wind, rain and direct sunlight when it is hot, so that the piglets are kept warm, dry and don’t get sunstroke.
If they were born inside then they usually have a heat lamp for the first few days/week.
If the piglets are reared outside then they will get iron from the soil and grass they root about in but if indoors give them a piece of turf to root about on and access to water at all times for both indoor and outdoor piglets.
Hope the piglets are doing well – what sort of pigs are they?
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

Hi all

I have had two sows pig outside and in very wet conditions. The first Sow had 13 piglets 1 month ago and 10 survive. The three that died did so within 24 hours of birth and it probably had a lot to do with the bad weather at the time.

The second sow had 10 piglets and again 3 died in similar circumstances to the above. These are now 1 week old.

All are now well and and they are thriving.

I would think that if Grahams’ piglets have somewhere dry to lie and sleep, and they are feeding well enough from the mother then all will probably be ok. If they have survived thus far then there is probably little to be gained by bringing them in at this stage

Regards

Michael

Things to consider when putting piglets outside:

  • Shelter – make sure it has plenty of fresh clean straw and bales around it for insulation.
  • Shelter has plenty of room for sow to feed the piglets easily without laying on any of the piglet.
  • Weather – keep the piglets protected from wind, rain and direct sunlight when it is hot, so that the piglets are kept warm, dry and don’t get sunstroke.
  • Make sure they have a source of iron – if outside they should get iron from the soil and grass they root about in.
  • Access to water at all times.

If anyone has any experiences of rearing piglets outdoors from birth then we would love to hear your experiences.
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Sow With Hot & Red Teats

I have just received an email about a sow who is due to farrow soon and her teats are hot and red.

“Hi Sara. My sow, Matilda, is due to have her first litter in the next few days. She is very content but I have noticed her back teets are very red and feel very warm, is this normal? She doesn’t seem to mind me touching them at all, I have been bathing them and she doesn’t seem to mind that either. We have had pigs for a year now and this is the firtst time we have gone through pregnancy. She has been wormed and her farrowing ark is clean. What more do I need to do?” Nelly

My response was
Hi Nelly,

I hope Matilda is ok. Watch out for mastitis which is a hardening of the teats and hot and painful teats. Mastitis can be treated with antibiotics. Here is a link http://farmingfriends.com/mastitis-in-sows/

http://farmingfriends.com/tip-for-helping-to-prevent-mastitis-in-sow-when-weaning-piglets/

Here is a link about signs of a farrowing sow
http://farmingfriends.com/signs-of-a-farrowing-sow-or-gilt/

http://farmingfriends.com/what-to-do-with-a-pregnant-sow-or-gilt-that-is-close-to-farrowing/

Hope these links are useful.

Good luck with the farrowing.

Let us know how she gets on. Just to let you know I have a free forum where there are lots of friendly members http://farmingfriends.com/forums/

Kind regards
Sara

A useful book for a new pig keeper and breeder is the book Starting With Pigs by Andy Case or the The Virgin Pig Keeper by David Brown.

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Should You Be Present When A Gilt Or Sow Is Farrowing?

I am sometimes asked if you should be present when a gilt or sow is farrowing. Some people believe that you should just let the gilt or sow get on with the farrowing. However if your sow/gilt knows you well then she may not mind you being present. It is useful to be on hand in case the gilt or sow needs assistance or in case the sow becomes aggressive towards the piglets.

If you are present at farrowing time then it is important that you have a pig board and easy access to the door so that you can get away from the sow if she becomes aggressive or is disturbed by your presence. If the gilt or sow is distressed by your presence then you will need to withdraw from the farrowing pen and leave the sow/gilt to farrowing on her own but I would stay close by so you can still monitor if all is going well or if she needs assistance.

My sows farrowed in a barn and usually started farrowing late afternoon and into the evening. I always sat behind the sow so I had easy access to the piglets and was in a position to help the sow if she needed assistance with farrowing the piglets. I would sit with the lights out and the light from the heat lamp would be enough for me to see what was happening.

I also needed to be close by as one of my sows could get aggressive at farrowing time and she has tried to bite and kill the piglets during farrowing.

Being present or close by so you can observe the farrowing process gives you an insight into their farrowing habits and behaviour which is useful information when the sow or gilt farrows again.
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What To Do With A Pregnant Sow Or Gilt That Is Close To Farrowing

I am often asked what to do with a pregnant sow or gilt just before they farrow.

Dear Sara,

My name is sammy and I am 17 years old. I bought a pig for market as I was going to show and sell her in the local county fair. I found out she is pregnant and is really close to farrowing. It turned out to be just like Claire’s story in the fact that I had to have bought her pregnant and I have no idea the exact date of her farrowing. I have no experience with sows and I saw the help you gave Claire. Your suggestions were very helpful as well but I had a few questions myself. What do I need to do to get her ready? We have a farrowing crate but I’m not even sure how exactly its supposed to work… Right now she is in a cement-floored pen with a small wood barn attached to the end that she sleeps in. I would really appreciate any tips and comments you have.

Thanks again,
Sammy Odman

Hi Sammy,
Welcome to the farmingfriends.

Here are some useful posts I have written on my website.

http://farmingfriends.com/preparing-for-farrowing-pigs/
http://farmingfriends.com/farrowing-crates-for-pigs/
http://farmingfriends.com/signs-of-a-farrowing-sow-or-gilt/
http://farmingfriends.com/aggression-in-farrowing-sows/

When preparing for farrowing you need to;

* Separate the pigs if you have pigs together about two weeks before farrowing.
* Give a dose of wormer to the gilt or sow about a week before farrowing.
* Disinfect the farrowing area and give the gilt or sow straw and other nesting materials such as straw so that she can build a nest.
* Wash the gilt or sows teats and tummy area.

Set up an area for the piglets slightly away from the gilt or sow, with straw and a pig lamp.

My farrowing crates have metal bars at the side and top and then a wooden floor which I cover genereously in straw. The back end of the crate has a metal door that pulls out so that the pig can walk in and then the door goes back on. I place straw on the floor of the crate and around the crate and then add square bales to make sure the piglets are confined to the area near the crate when farrowing takes place. I hang a heat lamp in the strawed area slightly away from the crate so that the piglets can move away from the soew when they are not feeding. Your concrete floor wants to be covered with straw so the piglets don’t get cold under foot but make sure the straw doesn’t get too deep that the piglets will roll too close to the sow as this can lead to being laid on. Also make sure you have a bale at the back of the crate where you can sit and see the piglets being born and can help them if they need help getting rid of the mucus they have on them.

You will also need to watch out for the gilt/sow becoming aggressive during farrowing. If she looks like she will turn on the piglets which they can still do in a crate then you can separate the piglets as they a born from the sow. I have done this by putting straw into a big plastic container and then placing this under the heat lamp and then when the piglets are born I pop them into the box. Hopefully you won’t need to do this but if you do make sure that the sides are tall enough so that the piglets aren’t able to climb out as let me tell you they are sure quick on their feet after they are born and are constantly searching for the sows teats!

When farrowing is imminent there are a number of signs to look out for.

# Restlessness. The sow or gilt will pace up and down or circle round and round.
# Nesting. The sow or gilt will pull or the bedding material into one area and create a nest. They do this by carrying the bedding in their mouths and moving the straw with their feet. This usually occurs on the day of farrowing and it is an amazing sight to see as all the bedding that was previously covering the barn floor will now all be neatly in a nest shape – this happened when Cagney, my Saddleback sow, had her first litter. I went in to feed her and she was laid on her nest and not one piece of straw was anywhere else in the barn!
# The size and shape of the stomach will increase before farrowing. I try to get into the habit of feeling the sow’s stomachs when I feed them so that I am aware of any changes in size and that the sows get used to me touching this area.
# The size of the mammary glands will increase as they bag up with milk. I also try to touch the teats so that the sows get used to me doing this so that I can check for milk production before the onset of farrowing.
# Milk production. Just before farrowing the sow or gilts milk will be released. You can check this by squeezing the teats and if milk droplets come out then farrowing is close.
# The vulva becomes larger and reddens. The muscles around this area slacken before farrowing takes place. This is not always easy to see to the untrained eye but once your gilt and sow has farrowed once or twice it is easier to identify. it’s amazing how often a pig breeder spends looking at the animals bottom!
# Laying down and stretching out the back legs will occur as farrowing begins. This is not always the case as some gilts and sows will stand to farrow. My saddleback sow Lacy did this when she was a gilt and had her first litter.
# Heavy breathing. As farrowing begins the gilt or sow will start to blow and puff as she strains.

Let me know if you have anymore questions and good luck I hope the farrowing goes well. It is an amazing sight to see. The piglets are so small and yet very quickly, within seconds of being born know that they want to suck and actually head towards the teats!

Kind regards
sara @ farmingfriends

Any advice you have about preparing a sow or gilt for farrowing please let me know.
A useful book for a new pig keeper and breeder is the book Starting With Pigs by Andy Case.

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How To Tell If A Gilt Or Sow Is Pregnant

When a boar and gilt are allowed to run together they will mate when the gilt comes into estrus, but how do you tell if mating has occurred?

Hello – I have two gilts and recently purchased a 1-yr old boar. My goal is to breed the gilts, of course. The gilts are of age and size to be bred and therefore I put the boar in with them. Short of placing a 24 hr spycam in their house, how can I tell if the gilts are bred? Being new to this, how can I determine a bred gilt other than waiting 3 months for obvious changes? Thank you, Linda

Hi Linda,

Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your question.

I have noticed that the boar makes a different sort of grunting noise when a gilt/sow is on heat. He seems to follow the gilt around and pushes at her side and sniffs her bottom!

Sometimes you can see that the boar has mounted the gilt as there are scratches on her side where the boars feet have been and there is sometimes a red mark on the gilts back where the boar has been rubbing against her. Also  the vulva may be red and her bottom may be wet with the boars semen.

Gilts usually come into cycle every 3 weeks.

So look out for signs of estrus and if it looks like the gilt is ready to be served by the boar again 3 weeks from the boar being put with the gilts then the gilt may not be pregnant.

I generally keep the boar with my sows for over 6 weeks so that they have gone through two cycles.

Hope this helps. What sort of pigs are they and do they have names? Let me know how you get on with them. My pigs, Cagney and Lacy are about to farrow.

Just to let you know I recently set up a forum which is free and this has a section on pigs.

Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

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

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Breeding Pigs – Gestation Period

· The gestation period of a gilt or sow is usually 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days (roughly 112-115 days).


I am hoping my gilts are in pig and will have piglets at the end of October. By my calculations they should be two thirds of the way through and have approximately 6 weeks before they farrow, if they are pregnant. That gives me, the novice breeder, just six weeks to prepare for the farrowing and the possibility of raising piglets.
Any advice or tips on preparing for farrowing, farrowing and raising piglets would be welcomed.
A useful book for a new pig keeper and breeder is the book Starting With Pigs by Andy Case or the The Virgin Pig Keeper by David Brown.

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If you keep pigs or are thinking of keeping pigs then join the free farmingfriends pig forum for the latest chat, advice and questions about pigs and pig related issues.

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