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Key Issues In Breeding Pigs

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By Dr Taddeo Assimwe        

  • Pen Matting: Allow the boar to run with a group of sows to mate them as and when they come on heat. 1 boar: 8-10 sows.
  • Hand matting: Only when sows are on heat are they brought to the boars’ pen.

Common problems that will limit matting performance of the boar:

  • Bleeding penis due to injury in the course of copulation, fighting or infection of the urinogenital system.
  • Abnormal penis: Tied penis as the penis tissue is tied to the skin sheath. May also be a small limp penis which cannot mate.
  • Degeneration of testicles which compromises fertility.
  • Decreased libido (sex desire) due to feet/ reproductive system injury, prior painful matting experience, bullying by large sows, hormonal deficiencies & being housed with a dominant boar.
  • Lameness due to bone fracture, joint illness, arthritis etc.

Management of gilts:

Gilts reach puberty at 4.5-6 months of age, however, it’s advisable to delay serving/mating. 

  • Until they are 7-8 months exposure to a boar should start at 4 months since boars’ smell and noise are known to induce puberty. Before serving, increase feed allowance to maximize the number of eggs to be released (flushing). Return them to normal ratio after matting.

Signs of heat

  • Aggressively seeking a boar
  • Restlessness and grunting
  • The vulva swells and is reddened
  • Frequent urination and vaginal mucus discharges
  • Mounts others and when mounted or pressed on the back by a farmer, it stands still (standing reflex). Observe the AM-PM rule of mating. Gilt once matted should be brought back for the second matting, 12 hours after the first mating.

Farrowing is expected 114+3 days. In the last week of pregnancy, prepare both the farrowing pen and sow by thorough cleaning, bedding and disinfection. 

Observe farrowing signs

Signs of farrowing:

  1. Restlessness, 24 hours before farrowing
  2. A bloody discharge noticed on the swollen vulva
  3. Turgid teats and on pressing, small amounts of milk get released
  4. It lies down and abdominal contractions can be seen
  • Farrowing takes 4-5 hours. After farrowing, stimulate breathing by removing the membrane or massaging the chest area or holding its hind legs and swinging it gently. If the sow is aggressive, remove the piglets immediately after birth only to reintroduce them after it has calmed down or may kill them.
  • If the naval cord is too long, shorten it by cutting and disinfecting using an iodine solution.
  • Ensure the piglets access the teats for colostrums that contain antibiotics and give the piglets immunity.
  • Provide Iron supplementation. Piglets are born with low iron reserves in the body and sow milk is low in iron hence piglets are prone to Anemia. Iron is needed for blood formation and oxygen transportation.
  • Clip needle teeth. Piglets are born with 04 pairs of sharp teeth. These can hurt other piglets during fighting or injure the sow’s teats. Therefore, remove them on the day of birth as well as Tail docking or cutting at 1/2 inch from the body to prevent tail biting which vices can introduce infections.

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