– Provide a warm housing for piglets (obviously namuimona imbaula pa conner)
– Keep the creep box clean and provide heating. Temperatures of about 20 degrees + (keeping them warm and clean, prevents the stubborn diseases that eliminates them: pneumonia and diarrhea.
– Make sure piglets have access to colostrum (the first milk) which provides them with the required immune system.
– Cut the teeth immediately so that piglets will not injure the sow when suckling and keeps it at ease.
– More so, tail dock them to avoid cannibalism.
– Give them the iron injection on the 3rd day. Iron injection is cardinal because piglets are born with limited iron (red blood cells). Ensure pigs kept indoors are supplemented with iron … free-range pigs can get iron from the soil.
– Give them clean water and feed the sow with lactating feed as a supplement for milk production.
– Pigs are clean animals, keep their sty dry and clean, disinfect it at least once a week to keep your production from external infections.
As almost half of the pigs that die on a pig farm do so before they are 14 days old, the farrowing house where the piglets are born and stay for the first 28 to 35 days of their lives must be properly managed.
- The farrowing pen must be designed so that the sow can’t lie on top of the piglets.
- Newborn piglets are very sensitive to cold, draughts, wet bedding and floors, and sudden temperature changes. All precautions must be taken to make sure the environment is regulated.
- Make sure that piglets suckle a teat as soon after birth as possible to take in colostrum. This is the first milk produced by the sow which protects piglets against disease.
- If a sow has more piglets than teats, move the piglets to another sow with fewer piglets – but only if the piglets of both sows are born within a few days of each other.
- Sometimes a sow won’t accept her own piglets. If this happens, take the piglets away for a few hours. If she still refuses to accept them, put them with another sow if possible. Slaughter any sow that does not accept her piglets or bites them.
Weaning to slaughter
Good food, good hygiene, good health management and timely treatment are the keys to successful weaners and growers.
- Wean at four to six weeks by removing the sow and leaving the piglets in the farrowing pen for three to five days.
- Clean water and feed, preferably in a self-feeder, must be available to the piglets after weaning.
- Piglets sometimes eat too much for a day or two after weaning, developing diarrhoea. Treat this by feeding less for a few days, but if the diarrhoea continues, treat it with an antibiotic. Mix the antibiotic into the feed or dissolve it in water and admininister through a teat attached to a plastic bottle fastened to the wall or gate. Ask your vet or extension officer to advise you.
- Treat the piglets for internal parasites soon after weaning.
- Keep piglets of the same litter together and move them to the same growth pen seven days after weaning. Piglets from different litters will fight with one another when put in the same pen.
- If you must put pigs from different sows in the same pen, try to group them according to size. Don’t put one or two new pigs in a large group.
- Growing pigs must eat as much of the right feed mixture as possible without becoming too fat.
- Sell growing pigs as porkers when they weigh 60kg to 70kg at between 15 and 18 weeks old, or as baconers when they weigh 86kg to 90kg and are just under six months old.
- Transport pigs to the market when it’s cool – early in the morning or late afternoon.
Read Also: Types of Pig Feeds and When to Feed Each
Umbilical cord: Disinfect after birth with an iodine solution or any other suitable disinfectant.
Tusk clipping: Piglets have very sharp temporary tusks (teeth) at birth. Use a tusk clipper to clip these to prevent injuries to the teats during suckling. Do not clip the teeth too close to the gums.
Iron injections: Piglets reared outside roll about in soil or mud where they ‘pick up’ iron. For piglets reared on concrete floors, the sow’s milk has insufficient iron and they need iron injections at three to seven days to prevent them from becoming anaemic, with consequent poor appetite and loss of growth.
If there is no foster-sow, rejected piglets can be hand-reared using one of the following two milk mixtures:
- 2,5l fresh cow’s milk, 150ml fresh cream, 125ml glucose, 1 beaten egg.
- 4,5l fresh cow’s milk and 0,5l cream.
Feed the piglets small quantities every two to three hours. Start with 50ml at a time and make sure each piglet takes in 350ml a day. Gradually increase the amount to about 100ml at a time so that the piglets get 750ml at three weeks.
Give creep meal in a shallow dish or on the floor from two weeks onwards to encourage the piglets to eat meal as soon as possible. Fresh, clean water must always be available and piglets should be encouraged to drink water as soon as possible.
Dealing with tail biting
Cold, draughts, concrete floors without bedding, not enough eating space and poor ventilation all cause stress in pigs which can lead to them biting each other’s tails.
Pigs with injured tails grow slower and may even die if the injuries are severe. Remove them from the pen, disinfect the wounds and treat them with an antibiotic.
Management techniques for the care of piglets
(1) Needle Teeth
Piglets are born with 8 tiny “needle” teeth that are so named because of their sharp tips. If left unclipped they are used by piglets to compete with one another.
The results of such competition are scratched up sow’s teats (which can lead to infections and/or mastitis) and the piglets will also chew on the side of each other’s faces while competing for a teat and milk.
To prevent this scratching and chewing, it is best to clip the ends of these 8 teeth off. Wire cutting pliers or toe nail clippers can be used to remove the top one third of each tooth.
Care must be taken to make a clean cut and not break the tooth off because a broken tooth can cause gum infections and abcesses. Hold the piglet’s mouth open with your finger far back between the jaws. This is a good technique that can be used in all levels of management.
(2) Tail Docking
Tail docking is a practice that should be used only in high level management conditions where pigs are being raised in a clean environment and subject to crowded conditions.
Chewing results because of the stress of overcrowding. Unlike volunteers on crowded buses, the pigs can not chew tobacco or gum, so they chew on the tails of other pigs near them.
Since there is very little feeling in the last third of the tail, it has no idea it is under attack. The result is often crippling infections, open wounds, and decreased production.
When the pig is about one week of age (provided that it appears healthy and unstressed) a sharp knife can be used to remove the tip of the tail. It is good to apply a disinfectant, such as iodine, to the wound after clipping.
In free-ranging environments where pigs have plenty of room, this is not a necessary nor recommended practice because it opens a wound to infection unnecessarily.
(3) Iron Shots
Piglets are born quite anemic because of a very low reserve of iron. Iron is needed to produce the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin of the blood. The sow does not provide iron in her milk so piglets must get it from another source.
Free-ranging pigs will eat soil while rooting in order to get the needed iron. However, pigs raised in confinement on cement or wood floors need another source.
Eating soil exposes the piglets to parasites that may be in the soil as well as the iron. Another way to provide iron to piglets quickly is to give a 1 to 2 cc. injection of a liquid iron solution.
Piglets that do not receive this injection of iron within the first two weeks of life will never produce to their genetic potential and should not be considered to be high production (and high investment) pigs.
This intramuscular injection should be given in the ham some time within the first three days after farrowing. Avoid veins and arteries when giving this shot. Clean the flesh where the shot is to be given with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before giving the shot.
Aspirate (draw back the plunger inside of the syringe) to see if blood enters after poking needle into the ham. If blood has entered the syringe, you have the the needle inside an artery and need to move it. If no blood enters the syringe then depress the plunger and thereby complete the injection.
Be sure to wipe the needle down with alcohol before giving the next injection. Syringes and needles should be boiled after finishing with one litter before injecting another.
Castration is the practice of removing the testicles from male pigs. Castration is practiced for any of the reasons listed below:
1. Prevents uncontrolled breeding in the herd.
2. Gives the volunteer or farmer control over which boars he/she wishes to use for breeding stock.
3. Some feel that castration can improve the f/g ratio of young boars.
4. Castrated boars are of a more even temperament than uncastrated boars.
5. The meat of a castrated boar has a less gamy or strong flavor than that of an uncastrated boar.
6. In many cultures, people prefer eating a boar if it has been castrated.
Ideally, castration should be done with young piglets when they are two weeks of age. Castrating them at this age is good because smaller wounds are made, healing is rapid, and it is less stressful for the piglet than later.
Castrating a piglet will require two people. The holder places the piglet on its back in his or her lap with the rump facing up. The piglet’s hind legs should be held forward.
This presses the testicles tightly against the scrotum while at the same time restraining the piglet. If the scrotum area is dirty then wash it first with soap and water, then with a disinfectant solution.
The person doing the cutting presses the testicle against the skin on one side of the scrotum between thumb and forefinger and slices down with a sterile razor blade. Make only one cut and do not saw.
Pressure behind the blade should cause the cut to pass through the skin and into the testicle. If the blade cuts the testicle, that’s O.K. for it will be gone soon.
The cut should be a half-inch to an inch long and low on the scrotum to assure proper drainage of the wound. Remember that low will appear high on the upturned piglet.
As soon as the incision is made, press the testicle out through the opening and pull it gently away from the piglet’s body. It will be attached by what appears to be one piece of stringy tissue.
Actually, there are 2 vessels closely attached to one another; the sperm duct which is white and the blood vessels which are red. Cut through the white sperm cord. The blood vessels should be snapped off as long as possible and close to the body.
To do this, merely keep pulling the vessels out until resistance from within causes the tissues to separate. I know this sounds gruesome and it seems to place as much trauma on the trainee as it does the piglet. Both seem to recover at the same time.
It is, however, a good technique because it snaps the artery back into the body cavity, closes off the blood vessel, and keeps bleeding to a minimum (less blood is lost this way than through cutting the vessel).
You then repeat the process on the other testicle. No stitches are needed as the wound will heal quickly on its own. It is a good idea to treat the wound with an antiseptic (iodine or alcohol) before releasing the piglet.
If you can keep the piglet on clean, dry bedding for 24 hours after castration, this will also reduce the chance of infection. Be sure to examine the piglet daily for the first 3 days following castration to examine the wound for any sign of infection.
If the piglet continues to eat and remains active, these are good indications that it will be okay.
(6) Castrating Older Pigs
You may upon occasion find it necessary to castrate a full grown boar before he is to be sold off or slaughtered. As you can imagine, castrating a full grown boar is no small task.
It creates considerable trauma for the boar and the volunteer. If you have never practiced this before, I would not recommend you trying to learn how in front of your peers or with someone else’s pig.
Find someone who knows how to do this and then assist him or her. Castration of an animal this age is traumatic for the boar and if not done properly can cause death.