Unless they are cared for properly, half of our newborn piglets that die do so in the first 14 days after birth. This is mainly caused by infections due to various reasons, trauma got during the delivery process, coldness or lack of warmth and poor feeding leading to nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes the sow may die and leave the piglets without mother care. To avoid this:
- The farrowing pen must be designed so that the sow cannot lie on top of the piglets. It should be cleaned and disinfected before a pregnant sow due for farrowing is introduced.
- Newborn piglets are 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.