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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Saddleback Piglets Born

I have received an email from my friends Gregg and Belinda who got their saddleback pigs from me over a year ago. Two of their three saddleback sows have just had piglets.

Good news. Last night/ this morning one of our sows farrowed…giving us seven healthy piglets. Maggie is due to farrow some time today…she’s got milk. The other one will farrow in a week or so. We are planning to keep at least one of  the gilts for breeding. Thanks so much for helping us in getting started.

Here is Holly and her seven piglets.

Holly the saddleback sow and her seven piglets.

Holly the saddleback sow and her seven piglets.

Gregg emailed today to say that Maggie has now farrowed.

All is going well although Maggie has been a little unwell during the farrowing but is beginning to eat and drink.

Maggie the saddleback sow and her piglets.

Maggie the saddleback sow and her piglets.

LG is the third sow and she is due to farrow in the next few weeks.

I am hoping to go and see the piglets very soon.

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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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.

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Can Piglets Be Left To Wean Naturally?

I am often asked about weaning piglets and I thought that Katie had an interesting question that asked if it’s ok for piglets to be left to wean naturally.

“Hi,the time has come to wean my 8 week old piglets but i really dont want to yet do i really have to cant i leave them to wean naturally? Katie”

Hi Katie,

Firstly have you been supplementing the piglets milk from the sow with creep feed, if not then you will need to do this before they are weaned as a quick change in their diet will upset their stomaches and give them scours.

Also you will need to consider the sow, in the wild the sow would naturally wean her piglets herself, so you could leave the piglets with the sow and I have read that she should naturally wean them herself by week 12. However if the sow has alot of piglets and their teeth have not been clipped and the sow is still feeding the piglets then you need to consider the condition of her teats and the amount of milk she is producing. Producing milk for along time makes the sow loose condition. Also if she is feeding alot of piglets it can take it out of her, especially as the piglets get bigger. The piglets teeth can scar the teats and this can lead to mastitis once the piglets are weaned.

Weaning can cause stress for the piglets. It is always best to remove the sow and not the piglets. Also if you do wean the piglets you only want to do this on that day, for example you don’t want to tag the piglets that day as well as they will get stressed.

I usually wean my piglets at week 8, although the sows only move to the next barn where they can still see and hear the sows so it could be seen as less stressfull for the piglets. I found that Cagney who was feeding 15-16 piglets on her last litter with 14 teats was releieved when I weaned the piglets at 8 weeks. When I moved her to the next door barn she actually laid down and had a rest and you could see the relief that when she laid down there were no piglets trying to suckle her, so observing the habits of your sow may be an indication if it’s time to wean the piglets. Is the sow looking tired, does she lay down and then get up quickly when piglets try to suckle, does she try to move away from the piglets? These may all be signs she is wanting the piglets to be weaned.

When weaning piglets the sow can be vulnerable to mastitis and when I weaned piglets at 6 weeks once my sows got mastitis. A tip to avoid this maybe to leave a runt or two with the sow and let them continue to suckle for another week or so until the sows milk dries up. You do need to be careful that these piglets when added back to the group don’t fight with the other weaners as separated pigs will fight.

Hope this info is of use to you. Hope the sow and piglets are doing well. I will add your question to the farmingfriend’s pig forum as I know that Topveg is a pig expert and may have some advice.

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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Tip For Helping To Prevent Mastitis In Sow When Weaning Piglets

I was recently told by a neighbouring smallholder that a good tip to help prevent mastitis in a sow when weaning the piglets is when the piglets are weaned (about 8 weeks old) from the sow leave the runt with the sow.

  1. This will help to stop the sow from getting mastitis as the runt will drink the sows milk and stop the sow from drying up too quickly and the teats becoming infected.
  2. The runt will grow well and quickly on the sow’s milk.

If you have any advice for helping to prevent mastitis in sow’s at weaning time 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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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?

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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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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:

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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.

Sows Go To Market

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post to say that my two sows went to market on Monday.

I bought Cagney and Lacy from a friend back in July 2007 and I have looked after them practically everyday for the last two years bar a few days away. Cagney and Lacy were pedigree British Saddleback pigs with lovely temperaments who were kept on my farm for breeding.

The sows produced 4 litters each and alot of piglets between them – I’ll have to work out how many as I can’t remember.

Although I didn’t want to send the two sows to market I had to consider doing so as the sows had more recently suffered with mastitis and erysiphelas. After consulting the vet and my neighbour who I bought the sows from and both my fatherinlaw and husband thinking they should go I made the decision to sell them at market.

I would have loved to have kept them as pet pigs but when married to a farmer, pet animals are not on the agenda and I do understand this although it doesn’t make it any easier to part with them. I did consider selling them to a smallholder but as Cagney has had mastitis twice, the last time just days after she had 16 piglets, I was worried that she may get it again and this would be difficult and painful for her with her piglets as well as difficult and stressful for the owner who may have to hand rear some or all of the piglets. Lacy wasn’t without her health problems. She had a mild case of mastitis after her second litter but recovered quickly and just recently she got an illness that can affect fertility.

I also didn’t want to keep one sow without the other as they were sisters and good company for each other and pigs are such social creatures they would have been lost without their mate if I had just kept one of them.

My father-in-law came with the trailer on Monday morning and we loaded the pigs, which is never an easy task, which on this occasion I was thankful for as it took my mind off the fact that my beloved sows were leaving the farm.

I feel like I have betrayed them and although they had a good life on the farm whilst they were with me, I do question what right I had to make the decision to send them to market and indeed slaughter.  Standing here with a healthy cheque doesn’t make me feel any better.

The problem is that I didn’t see the sows as a farm commodity but more as my pets that I loved and care for everyday, so with a heavy heart I say farewell to my beloved Cagney and Lacy.

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.