Pregnancy tested the herd today using the pregtone. It's a hand-held ultrasound that works by detecting the amniotic fluid in a pregnant pig.
In order to pregnancy test a pig you've got to get a good contact between the pig and the instrument, and it helps a lot if the sow sits still, which can be a problem with a 400lb animal.
We use vegetable oil for the contact oil -- if they eat it they'll be fine, and its relatively cheap. Although I'm not sure what people might think of us chasing the pigs through the pasture with a bottle of lubricant and a blue plastic thing.
I tested 6 pigs, and 5 turned out pregnant. Since this is a relatively new device for us that proof is in the pudding. We'll watch the sows that tested pregnant and see if they actually produce a littler in less than 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, which is the normal gestation for a sow.
you apply the gadget to the sows belly a few inches in front of the rear leg, "aiming" for the area below the spine on the other side of the pig. After a couple of tries you can test a sow in 3 or 4 seconds. It works pretty well if they're at the feeder.
I pregnancy test the pigs to make sure they're doing what they should be. It's expensive to feed a full-grown sow,so if they're not coming up pregnant on a regular basis, it's time to go.
Not every sow works for my operation. I want a sow with a good attitude towards me, good mother instincts towards her piglets, and fertile.
In my pasture, a good mother will find a spot in the long grass and spend hours moving mouthfuls of grass into an alligator nest. She'll then dig a furrow down the center, and lay in that groove to have her babies.
A good mother will get up very very slowly, and lay down very very slowly, so as not to smother a piglet. She'll be protective of her brood, but allow me to handle them and inspect them provided that I do so in a way that doesn't cause them to squeal.
She'll spend appropriate amounts of time with her litter, and raise happy, fat piglets.