Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring piglets

Hampshire sow x  berkshire/yorkshire boar
 Three litters last night, two the night before.  Love having piglets born at this time of year.  It's getting warmer, and they'll be weaning right at the time that the grass starts its explosive growth.  fun to watch piglets on a walk with their mom.
  The hampshire sow, above, woofed at me when i came to check on her piglets.  "hey, I'm nursing here, and I really, really don't want to get up, but if you... oh, nevermind.  I recognize you.  ok.  "
duroc sow x purebred herford boar
 I'm finding for sales in this area that the colored piglets are the ones that sell first.  People like to have one red one, and a black one, and a spotted one and so on.
This duroc sow is the only one that I own, and I'm interested to see what her temprament is.   She didn't even look at me when I was checking the pigs.  Grunting softly as her litter of 14 nursed.

Berkshire sow x 50/50 berkshire/yorkshire boar
The little berk sow is a sweetie.  This is her first litter and she was very anxious over the last four days; she would get out of her stall, and wander around, and then go right back to it and lay down every 90 minutes or so.  I guess she wanted to make sure that her stall was the best place to have piglets.   Now that she's had them she's cuddling with her pigs and probably won't move for a day or so.

The sows don't eat or drink for the first day or so after they give birth; some do, but most don't.  They're content to lay and nurse the pigs.  The piglets are busy figuring out whos nipple is whos.  Very important piglet business.  that'll be their personal nipple until they're weaned.
typical pig farrowing pen.  pigs on the left, rubber bowl in center

another farrowing pen.  8' gate.  sorry about poor cellphone pic

inside the farrowing pen above.  pigs in left corner


Jeff said...

How are you handling farrowing at the new farm? Can't tell if the sows are locked in individual stalls, in free to leave stalls, group farrowing, or some combo.

Bruce King said...

I've tried all sorts of housing for sows and pigs, and I've finally settled on keeping them in either individual stalls (6x8 or 6x10) or in farrowing crates, depending on the ability of the sow to care for her piglets. Low care sows go into the crates, sows that do a better job go into the stalls. Every gilt gets a shot at the stall for their first litter. I track how they do and where they go after that depends on how they do.
The stalls have a low roof; about 7' at the front and 5' at the back, and are sided on 3 sides. The fourth side is a gate which opens all the way to allow for easy cleaning and rebedding.
The stalls are built on skids. So after a litter we pick up each 3 stall set, move them 30', pressure wash them down and rebed them. Takes about an hour to do, and they're pretty much ready to go after that. Because they're built on skids the plan is to move them out into the pasture later this year. Right now they're on concrete to keep the mud to a minimum.

So they start confined. After 3 weeks, when the pigs are pretty alert and bouncy, we put a 2x12 across the front of the pens and open the gate. It's a labor saving thing. Instead of having to feed each individual sow we can use a group feeder and automatic waterer. the 2x12 keeps the pigs in their own area for another week or 2, and when they get out it's about weaning time.
We don't do group housing with newborns or under 3 weeks because older pigs will go and out-compete the younger ones on the sows nipples. Even a few days difference is enough that you'll lose pigs from the younger litter. Yes, you'll see pictures of multiple litters nursing on sows, and it seems like a good thing, but as with many things on the internet, the reality is a little different. I don't want to lose pigs and keeping the pigs with mom for a couple of weeks is what I've found to be the best way to do it.

Also, we're not moving litters at all, ever. Moving the sows to different housing almost always riles the sow, and there's increase mortality from that; she lays on them, or steps on them, and the piglets don't know what they're doing either. So by starting in a smaller space, and then opening it up but leaving the pigs where they were born, it's simple, everyone knows where home is.
I've posted a couple of pictures of the stall setup at the bottom of this post.

Jeff said...

Very helpful. Thanks. I know you've tried different farrowing setups over the years so it's good to see where you're at it in terms of what's worked based on your experience.