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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping pigs
...Farrowing pigs
...Feeding pigs
...Pig breeds
...Pig Selection
...Weaning piglets

The gestation period of a pig is sixteen weeks.

When you buy in a gilt you will be given an approximate due date. If you have had her served by your own boar then it is essential to keep clear records. It is all too easy to confuse pigs and their dates. To put the wrong sow into a crate would be to court disaster with the litter you have not protected. Put the sow into the crate a day or so before she is due to farrow. Give her plenty of short cut straw to lie on long straw can tangle piglets. Many sows make a nest for themselves with the straw. When the piglets start to arrive you should take them away, wipe them clean and dry and pop them under an infra-red light until the total delivery is finished. The sow should not be allowed to eat the afterbirth or to lick the piglets if they still have blood on. This could overexcite her and tales of pigs eating their young are not old wives' tales. When all the piglets have arrived let them go to their mother. Most pigs make excellent mothers, they flop over on to their sides and give rhythmic grunts to stimulate the piglets.

Newly born piglets are wonderful creatures. They are quite ready to leap up and start exploring they are inquisitive and full of 'go'. That is one of the main reasons why they get into trouble if allowed to do what they want to the instant they are born. Left to their own devices, they have an uncanny instinct of making straight for the sow's mouth exactly where you do not want them until the whole situation has calmed down.

A creep area that the mother cannot get into, complete with an infra-red light, gives them the greatest chance of survival. If there is only one warm spot in the pen and the sow can get to it, they will all pile into it and the little ones will get squashed. If you cannot obtain a farrowing crate or are totally opposed to using one, the next best thing is to fix a rail nine inches away from the wall and the same distance up from the floor; this at least gives the piglets some chance of escape. What it does not do is help anyone who has to assist at the birth. A heavy sow is not only a threat because of her size, she can bite with shattering power.