Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pregnant Sows / Winter Farrowing

This is the black pig.  she's an experienced sow, and is really really pregnant at this point.  In fact, I'm expecting her to farrow (give birth to piglets) either today or tommorow.  She's laying like this because I've just rubbed her belly (which she really likes, by the way) and have done a visual and physical check of her nipples.   Everything looks in order, temperature is normal, breast is soft, no evidence of mastitis -- so we're good to go. 

What I'm looking for is any redness or swelling, or any discoloration.  As the pigs on pasture interact with other pigs or move around on the pasture they'll injure themselves from time to time.   When she's this pregnant the last thing she wants to do is move around much, so this is a good time to do the condition check. 

The quarter is on there for scale.  I'm using the amount she's bagged out (her breast material is swollen) as a primary indicator of being close to farrowing.  the other sign, which is a little hard to see, is if her belly almost touches the ground when she walks. 

Here's another pregnant sow, Tank, also an experienced mom.   Andrea is doing the condtion check here.  Notice that if she was standing her belly would only be a few inches above the ground.  I'm expecting her to farrow in 3 days or so. 

For winter farrowing I move the sows into a barn, and use an 8x16 farrowing pen.  This allows me to closely monitor the condition of the sow and piglets, and gives me better survival rates.   In the event that there's a complication, I can  asssess and respond appropriately.  In the summer I'll let the sow pig their own pasture location to farrow. 

I'm expecting 10 or more piglets from each of the three sows we've got in the barn right now. 

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