Half of our newborn piglets that die do so in the first 14 days after birth. This is mainly caused by infections, agalactia, trauma, chilling, nutritional deficiencies, and death of the sow.
These are avoidable and this is how you achieve that;
- The farrowing pen must be designed so that the sow can’t lie on top of the piglets. It should be cleaned and disinfected before a pregnant sow due for farrowing is introduced.
- New-born 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. Provide heating source during cold weather; this should be kept out of sow reach.
- 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.
- 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 after 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. This is common in sows giving birth for the first time. Such sows may be given a second chance before culling them!
- If there is no foster-sow, rejected and orphaned piglets can be hand-reared using the following milk mixture: 2.5l fresh cow’s milk, 150ml fresh cream, 125ml glucose, 1 beaten egg.
- Hand rearing piglets is tiresome and there is no guarantee of good performance most especially when they don’t get access to colostrum after birth. Introduction of Barbistar safe creeps as early as 5 days may help you recover the piglets.
- Vaccinate against Pneumonia in the first days after birth and Porcine Circovirus three weeks later. The two vaccines are currently available in Uganda.
- Provide creep feed at 7 days of age. Keep the creep feed out of sow reach and maintain proper hygiene. Provide fresh creep feed every day!
- Wean piglets at 3-4 weeks when fed with a weaner creep feed during suckling. Delay weaning for up to 6 weeks in case creep feed is unavailable. Introduce starter formula feed either using the pig 5% or 25% concentrate from or until weaning. Continue feeding starter feed until 12 weeks of age. Feeds can be got from reputable livestock feed companies.
Tip provided by Christopher Mulindwa