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