Farrowing Research

The excitement of making it up as you go along works well in todays information age. Common sense and paying close attention to your animals will take care of most things; however, it’s nice to supplement that with some good research and learning. Alison and the girls have done a great job on their own with our first pig birth. We have only lost one piglet, which isn’t bad based on the research I have read.

One thing that came to my mind was getting the piglets and the sow access to plenty of water. Water for most animals is more important then food for survival.

I have been reading with great interest and article from the University of Guelph–Considerations At Farrowing Time

Here are some of the key findings for our little piglets from Gordon King, Animal Science, University of Guelph, Canada

Feeding Piglets

See that each piglet nurses soon after birth to get colostrum and a good start.
Piglets get ample nutrients, except iron, from milk for first 1 – 2 weeks.
Should have creep feed available after 7 days or earlier if weaning before 14 days.
Feed little and often if possible.
Creep feed is expensive ($85/100 kg) but only 20 – 30 kg/litter is needed. This gives piglets an excellent start for transition to totally solid diet at weaning


A lactating sow needs lots of water (1 -3 L/kg dry matter)
There is some indication that milk production and piglet growth are positively correlated with the sow’s water intake.
May see methods to increase consumption in future.
Piglets start drinking at 2 – 3 days if given opportunity.
Nipples are preferred over bowls for both sows and piglets since they provide less opportunity for contamination.

Routine Activities

See that smallest piglets nurse regularly without competition for several feeding in first two days. Cross-foster as necessary.
Disinfect navels, identify, clip needle teeth, dock tails, castrate and inject iron within the first few days.
It is possible to revive some apparently stillborn piglets if an attendant is present during farrowing.

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