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How Best To Take Care Of Piglets

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How do I make sure that my sow delivers well and how do I take care of the piglets up to weaning? Julius Mukasa, Mukono

Answer: The basic way of ensuring that your piglets are healthy and survive the first days after delivery include, making sure that you take note of the gestation period of the sow, right from conception to delivery.

Sows take three months, three weeks and three days to deliver. Every good pigsty must have a maternity section.

Towards the last week of pregnancy, transfer the sow to the maternity section. This should be different from the common shelter. This should be warmer, with a cubicle for the piglets.

Each sow must have its own stall. Keep monitoring the sow so that you or your workers are around when it delivers. Monitoring should be done on an hourly basis.

Prepare some food and water in its feeding trough because the process of delivering makes the sow hungry. Food can be cooked. You can feed them with sweet potatoes or processed bran.

Each piglet dropped should be moved away immediately to the piglets’ section.

After delivery, see to it that all the piglets are suckling properly. Sows have got between 10-14 teats so if the number of teats are not enough for all the piglets, you make sure each piglet gets a chance to feed.

If there are more piglets than the teats a sow has, transfer them to another mother sow.

If you do not have another sow, use a baby bottle to feed the extra piglets. Personally, I have a ‘mechanised’ labour ward for the sows when time for them to deliver comes. These are machine cubicles where a delivering sow stands as it delivers. The cubicle has a provision for holding the piglet as it drops off the mother.

Every piglet matters, that is why I invested in the system. Each of the suites cost sh900,000, however this is cheap, given the benefits.

I sell a piglet at sh250,000 so they matter a lot. Losing a piglet at birth means losing sh250,000.

The suites also prevent sows from cannibalising the piglets.

Piglets are ready to be weaned after two months with their mother.

Answered by Dr Emma Naluyima, a veterinary doctor and pig farmer

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