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.

[eshop_show_product id=’4144,5717′ class=’hilite’ panels=’yes’ form=’yes’]

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.

If you would like to receive regular information about pigs then why not sign up to the farmingfriends newsletter.

Enter your email address to receive regular emails of the posts on the farmingfriends website:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Feeding Pregnant Gilts Or Sows

Pregnant gilts or sows  can be fed:

  • sow breeder pellets/nuts or
  • milled barley / mixed with pig concentrate and
  • a selection of vegetables (particularly cabbage and broccoli as they helps with milk production.)

A sow will eat about 5 or 6lbs of feed a day which is the equivalent of up to 40 bags of pig feed.

Don’t feed your sow more than 6lbs of dry feed a day, unless they are close to farrowing or nursing piglets.

It is important to increase the amount of feed given to the gilt or sow a few days before she farrows. Increase the feed by 2-3lbs a day a few days before farrowing.

Then increase the feed by ½ -1lb per piglet born per day after farrowing.

Pigs should not be fed parsnips as they give them blisters in and around their mouths.

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

[eshop_show_product id=’4144′ class=’hilite’ panels=’yes’ form=’yes’]

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.

If you would like to receive regular information about pigs then why not sign up to the farmingfriends newsletter.

Enter your email address to receive regular emails of the posts on the farmingfriends website:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Why Piglets Born Dead

When I had farrowing gilts on the farm I have always been lucky enough to get live piglets, however sometimes piglets can be born dead but why is that?

“Just wondering I have a gilt that just had her first litter. The first 5 were alive but the next 5 were all dead. This is the second gilt that has had this problem. do you know what might be the reason the second have are dying. Stacey”

I wondered if may be the gilts had an illness but as I am not a vet or had more than 2 years experience with pigs it is hard to know what it could be. I have read that brucellosis and leptospirosis can have the symptoms of still born piglets. Infections or sickness could be the cause.

There are many other factors that could affect the health of the piglets during pregnancy.

If the gilt or sow becomes stressed, has a fight or a knock are factors that could all lead to stillborn piglets.

The health of the gilt or sow can also impact on the health of the piglets. An over weight pig can have difficulty farrowing. A lack of vitamins such as vitamin E and A can affect the birth of piglets.

The pigs diet can affect the health of the piglets and if moldy feed is also given to the gilt or sow then this could make the gilt or sow ill and then affect the piglet.

I have been doing some reading on this subject and I have read that if a piglet dies at the beginning of a pregnancy then when the piglet is born it will be hard and may be starting to deteriorate.

If the piglet dies just prior to birth then the piglet can look normal except it’s eyes may be sunken. One way to tell if a piglet died before birth or just after farrowing is to slice a piece of the piglet’s lung and place it in some water. If the piece of lung floats, it means that the piglet had breathed before death due to the presence of air in the lungs so, it was alive when it emerged.

If you have come across some piglets being born alive and some being born dead in the same farrowing then please let us know what the cause was in that particular case as it may help Stacey to determine why her piglets died.

What To Feed A Pregnant Gilt Or Pregnant Sow

Pregnant sows or gilts can be fed sow breeder pellets, milled barley and vegetables. It is important to increase the amount of feed given to the gilt or sow a few days before she farrows.

Dear Sara
I have a pregnant sow That is due to have little ones this month she just wants to eat corn. I know she needs more of a diet then this what would you recommend for better source of vitamins and minerals? This is my first time with a pregnant sow.
Jeff

Hi Jeff,
Welcome to farmingfriends and thanks for your question. Give her sow breeder nuts as well and make sure she has plenty of water they need more water when eating dry food.
Also lots of greens is a good idea. Particularly cabbage and broccoli as they helps with milk production. Increase her feed by 2-3lbs a day a few days before farrowing. What breed is your sow? Good luck with the farrowing. it is a joy to watch and the piglets are amazing as soon as they are born they are trying to suckle.
Let me know how she gets on.
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

What do you feed your pregnamt sows or gilts?

Click on the book image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.


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.

[eshop_show_product id=’4144′ class=’hilite’ panels=’yes’ form=’yes’]

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.

If you would like to receive regular information about pigs then why not sign up to the farmingfriends newsletter.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Click on the book image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

Avril’s Saddleback Weaners

Avril bought four of my Saddleback weaner gilts and I was thrilled to get a couple of photos of the lovely girlies this morning.

Avril's Saddleback Weaner Gilts In Hut

Avril's Saddleback Weaner Gilts In Hut

Avril's Saddleback Weaner Gilts Rooting About Outside

Avril's Saddleback Weaner Gilts Rooting About Outside

Avril has a large outdoor area for the pigs to root about in and then a large hut with plenty of straw for the weaners to sleep in and keep warm and sheltered from the elements.

I contacted Avril to check on the ear tag numbers and check the saddleback markings so that the pigs with the correct markings could be registered as pedigree saddlebacks.

The weaner without the full saddle is number 76. Avril told me that she managed to look at 3 of the pigs to check their tag numbers but it wasn’t easy as they had been rolling in the mud and the tags were caked in dry mud. I know that situation very well!

The smallest weaner with the largest saddle has been named babe and Avril informs me that she’s a lil monkey and wont let her wipe her ear, bless her. I recall that this weaner was one of the first to leave the barn and explore the fold yard.  She would also come for milk even though she didn’t really need it.

Avril also has Disco, the weaner with the black circle in her saddle whio is also a clever pig knowing that there was milk available for the smaller piglets when I was feeding the runts.

It is great to hear how the weaners are doing and to see photos of them.

Farewell To Seven Saddleback Gilts

It was with a heavy heart that I got up on Monday morning to see to the pigs as I knew that my seven beautiful Saddleback gilts, that would have been excellent for breeding, were going.

Seven Saddleback Gilts

Seven Saddleback Gilts

I had been training the pigs to go into the trailer as pigs get nervous and easily stressed when faced with a new situation so I had been feeding the gilts in the trailer to entice them into the trailer and making it a familiar place for them to go.

Two of the gilts managed to go into the trailer on the first feed and it took only three feeds to get 6 of them in and one nervous gilt finally went into the trailer on the fourth feed so Monday morning we could not believe how easily the pigs loaded into the trailer and were not stressed for the journey.

Unfortunately I was not able to sell the gilts for breeding which would have been my ideal situation as they all had perfect saddleback markings and were pedigree pigs.

As I only have a limited amount of space for pig keeping it wasn’t a viable option to keep them as much as I would have liked to. Luckily for me and not the gilts,  I was able to sell them to a company called Taste Tradition who sell rare breed pork all over the country.

I was reading in the British Pig Association’s newsletter at the weekend that in order for rare breed pigs to survive and the Saddlebacks are one such rare breed, then these pigs must be sold for meat. I keep holding onto this thought as I took the pigs to their fate on Monday.

If the gilts hadn’t nearly been sold or if they hadn’t been pedigree Saddlebacks with excellent markings and a brilliant temperament for breeding then I would have been fine with selling them for meat but when when they are given a chance to continue the breeding process you want to let them have that chance, but on this occasion it wasn’t meant to be so if you are sitting in a reastaurant eating rare breed pork and enjoying the meat then the care and attention that was given to my Saddleback gilts was definately worth it.

So with a sad and heavy heart I bid my beautiful Saddleback gilts a fond farewell.

Training Saddleback Pigs To Go Into A Trailer

I am currently training my seven saddleback gilts to go into the trailer as they are not used to being loaded into a trailer. I have introduced them to the trailer by placing their food on the door and in the trailer so that it will entice them into the trailer. This is the third feed in the trailer and five of them have gone fully into the trailer and on this occasion the other two gilts have stepped onto the door to go into the trailer so it’s looking good for loading the pigs on Monday morning!

It always amazes me how quickly pigs learn to do something. This sort of exercise also shows the different personalities of the pigs as some are much more assertive and curious and some will stand back and are shy and nervous.

Do you have any stories about training your pigs to go into a trailer?

Click on the book image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

Mastitis In Sows

Mastitis affects sows and gilts that have farrowed and are feeding piglets or have just weaned their piglets.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Teats that are hot to the touch.
  • Teats that are hard and lumpy.
  • Sow not eating.
  • Heavy breathing.
  • Raised temperature.
  • Lethargy in sows.
  • Not standing up.

Mastitis needs to be treated quickly, so if you suspect that your sow or gilt has mastitis then you may want to call for your vet. Mastitis can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

Click on the book image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.


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.

[eshop_show_product id=’4144′ class=’hilite’ panels=’yes’ form=’yes’]

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.

If you would like to receive regular information from the farmingfriends farm then why not sign up to the farmingfriends newsletter.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner