If you’re considering breeding pigs and or already have a pregnant pig. You will need to learn the cycle of weaning babies through the mother but also weaning by hand if the mother is for some reason unwilling or unable to wean the some to all of the baby pigs.
Always no matter what the situation in breeding always prepare yourself financially for the possibility of having to deal with death, possible vet emergencies, and aiding in weaning. This can be more costly than the actual profit in itself.
First you will need to know a baby pig needs to continue weaning up to 6 weeks of age. Usually once an hour for approximately 24 seconds at a time off the mother. If this is not happening you may need to intervene coaxing and keeping the babies close to the mother’s nipples so they don’t stray off and die.
A handy trick to know.
As weird as this may sound the pigs actually benefit more from certain nipples then other nipples off the mother.
You will find that the nipples towards the front of the mother pig in comparison to the nipples towards the rear of the mother pig actually produce more milk then the rear nipples. They also are a safer position for the babies in reducing the risk of getting kicked.
You will find pigs who wean off the front nipples will also grow to be heavier at 6 weeks then the pigs weaning from the rear end.
So if you ever notice a pig becoming too light of weight you can rotate the pigs to bring the lighter pigs closer to the front in hopes of the baby returning to a normal healthy state.
Preparing for loss
the current mortality rate of baby pigs in the weaning stages are the highest yet. But this doesn’t mean you will have the same luck. Sometimes still born pigs and other deaths will occur. Most times not a preventable and not your fault. The best thing to do to prepare yourself to handle situations like this is to visit other breeders before you decide to breed. Experience birth and weaning first hand from an experienced breeder and become educated in the hardships that come with breeding.
Hand rearing orphaned pigs
In case of mother refusing or not being able to wean pigs it may become necessary to step in you. But only if absolutely needed.
The success rate of hand raising infant pigs is low. And very difficult.
Heat pads or lamps are necessary to hand raising pigs due to young newborns being unable to hold their own heat. A steady temperature of between 85 and 90 degrees is ideal.
Sows milk replacer and goat’s infant milk replacer are the only good options in replacing a pig’s milk source.
Never use cow’s milk, it is very difficult for digestion. Milk can be fed using a baby bottle and nipple, the milk warmed to a body temperature. You will only need to do this for a short term because pigs are easily taught to drink from a bowl.
To teach a young pig to drink from a bowl just tip the pigs nose in and out of the milk a few times and usually they quickly get the idea of what to do.
At birth start with two to three teaspoons a day and gradually work your way up as the days pass. Upon day 7 to 10 you can introduce them to a solid food called piglet starter creep.
An extra supplement of iron is also ideal being piglets are not good with creating their own iron.