It’s that time here in the Midwest! Farrowing Season! One of the most fun times of the year!
helpful to those who have been farrowing for years, as it seems new situations come up every year!
- Have your sows in the correct condition to farrow – Many people mistake that the thicker (fatter) their sow is the healthier it is. WRONG! The most common farrowing problems occur because of overfed sows. Pay attention to your sow’s body score during her pregnancy. She does not need to look like she is going into the show ring right before she farrows. Our gestating sows are fed approximately 4lbs of feed per day. Think of your sow as a Dairy Cow, they should be putting all of their energy into making babies and milk. If they are fattening up then are getting more feed than what is needed. This will also cause the baby pigs to be bigger as well. When they are bigger, it is harder for the sow to farrow. The size of baby pigs when they are born has more to do with the feeding of the sow, than the sire like in cattle. Grandpa Shaffer has always told us if our Duroc sows look good they are too fat. If they look thin with big, baby bellies then they are just in the right condition and you are less likely to have any farrowing problems.
- It is very important for you to disinfect and clean the farrowing house between each farrowing group. Power washing, followed by disinfect in the best way to clean everything.
- Talk to your vet to set up your vaccination program. It is very important that you have this in place before the pigs arrive so you are prepared.
- Come up with a biosecurity plan –Biosecurity is very important, especially in the farrowing house. Baby pigs are just like regular babies, their immune systems need time to develop and they are very susceptible to different illness and diseases. We practice a strict no outside visitors allowed in our farrowing house. If you have been around other outside pigs, you need to shower or at least change your shoes and clothes before going into your farrowing house.
Medications — Talk to your vet and see what their protocol is as far as shots giving during labor, after labor and to the baby pigs. This way you are prepared before she has her litter
- Oxytocin – It is always good to have this on hand when you are farrowing out sows. This is helpful when yoru sow is in labor.
- Iron Shots – To give to the babies within 24 hours of them being born.
- Other medications suggested by your vets to help with the delivery process and to give the baby pigs.
- Make sure you have the correct syringe and needles on hand. You will not use the same size needle on the sow as you do a baby pig and make sure you have plenty on hand. Talk to your vet on the different sizes of needles to use.
- Make sure you know the withdrawals of all medications that you use as well in case you need to market your sow after farrowing.
Heat Lamps – We place in heat lamp in each of our farrowing pens. You need make sure that they are low enough to where they can feel the warmth of the lamp, but high enough to where they babies can’t reach them. Also make sure the cords cannot be reached by the babies or sows. We do not want these turning into a fire hazard.
- They can get used to their new environment.
- You can watch over them more closely.
- You are prepared if they farrow early.
- Milk coming in – some sows can get milk a day or two before they will farrow. However this is great indicator that she will farrow soon. At the same time, some sows do not get their milk before they start labor.
- Discharge from vulva
- Labored breathing
- Going off feed
- Change in behavior
- Stay Calm
- Call your vet – your vet will know what to do and be able to walk you through what you need to do or come out the farm to help.
- If you have to pull a pig – remember to us the sterile OB glove and lube. This helps keep infection down. Also, the smaller the arm, the better. Go in gently as well. Be cautious if you do have to pull pigs. The more times that you go up, the more likely she will get an infection.
- If a pig is stuck or positioned incorrectly and you have to pull it, make sure you check that the other babies are not backed up behind that one. Usually if one has been stuck for a while, the others will be piled up behind it.
- If the baby is coming feet first and not head first, do not try to turn the baby around. Feet first babies are sometimes easier to pull.