"Hi Bruce, I have 4 pigs; 3 sows and a boar, and we just had our first litter. Unfortunately, none of the 11 pigs that were born survived. We have them in a shelter on pasture, and I'm wondering what your experience has been with giving birth on pasture?
Sorry to hear that you lost a litter, but don't blame yourself too much. If you have and keep animals you'll lose some despite your best intentions. I've written quite a bit about my experiences with losing pigs. Do a search for farrowing (upper left hand corner of the blog window) and you'll see at least 50 entries about this. I've thought about this a lot, and I've had a lot of experience with it on my operations.
Fair warning: We are talking about piglet mortality here -- so there will be pictures of dead piglets in this entry.
Farrowing in a shelter
Farrowing in a calf dome
Before I build that shelter, I tried portable calf domes. They weigh about 100lbs, they're 7' across, and about 5' high. Bedded with hay or wood chips, they provide excellent shelter.
We've been gradually increasing the number of farrowing crates to be able to handle the groups of sows farrowing. Having a sow in a crate is actually more work for me than having them in a pen or with the herd. I'm not doing this because it's easier, I'm doing it to save the pigs lives. I've picked up too many buckets of dead piglets. I'm done with that.