Managing a pig herd

Managing a pig herd
SAPPO Training Course
Each age group/development stage has
special management requirements to stay
healthy and produce well
Breeding stock
Breeding gilts
Pregnant and lactating sows
Young stock from birth to point of sale
Piglets before and after weaning
Weaners and growers
Breeding stock
Their wellbeing and continued high
production depends on
Good breeding management (service,
Health care (vaccination, parasite control)
Introducing gilts
Gilts are usually selected when they are 4-6
months old
At 6-7 months, vaccinate for E. coli and
erysipelas, leptospirosis, parvovirus, with a
booster 4-6 weeks later for both vaccines
Treat for mange and worms
Feed ad lib until served
Put them in a pen next to a mature boar to
stimulate them to come on heat
Breed at 7-8 months, modern breeds should
weigh at least 120 kg at service
Breeding gilts and sows
Females come on heat every 3 weeks
When on heat they will stand firm to hand
pressure on the middle of the back
Females are taken to the boar for service
Observe mating – the boar should remain
mounted and ejaculating for at least 5 minutes
Remove sow after service and repeat 12 and 24
hours later – can use a different boar if available
to get larger litters
Breeding sows
Sow on heat stands
firm to pressure
Normal mating
Pregnant sows
Pregnancy lasts about 115 days
Observe served sows for signs of heat
especially about 3 weeks after first
service, and repeat service if necessary
Vaccinate with E. coli 2-3 weeks before
farrowing date and treat for worms, lice
and mange
Pregnant sows
Check for
constipation –
straining, small hard
faeces or none
Feed green feed and
wet bran to prevent or
correct constipation
Put sow into farrowing pen about a week before
due date and supply lots of bedding
Stand by during farrowing to help if needed but
do not interfere if process is normal – piglets
born 1-2 at a time at about 10-15 minute
Do not break the umbilical cord
Can rub and dry piglets and remove membranes
from face
Foster the bigger piglets from large litters with
sows with smaller litters if necessary
Unsupervised farrowing can lead to losses
During lactation
Increase the sow’s feed to 2-3 times the normal
amount, observe for weight loss and give more if
Feed at least 3 times a day to prevent excessive
intake at any one time
Ensure that unlimited water is available, lactating
sows can drink at least 30 litres per day
Wean piglets at 4-6 weeks
Sow can be served at first heat after weaning if
she is in good condition
During lactation
Sow should not
appear thin as piglets
grow – the sow in the
picture at the bottom
is much too thin
Managing the boar
Treat at least 4 times a year for mange, lice and
Breed from about 10 months of age
Let him serve a quiet sow first if possible
Do not overwork – not more than 3-4 services
per week
Cull when lame, overweight, or not siring good
Avoid boar serving own daughters as it leads to
Managing the boar
A good boar is a valuable asset
Care of piglets
Most piglet deaths occur in the first 3 days
of life
Major causes are cold, starvation,
Supply a warm creep area
Make sure that the piglets are suckling well
Provide a farrowing rail or deep straw to
enable the piglets to get away from the sow
so that she will not accidentally lie on them
Creep area
Deep bedding
Deep bedding provides warmth and protection
Care of piglets
Piglets may also die as a result of
infectious diseases or birth defects
Ensure good hygiene in the farrowing pen
Disinfect the navel and feet with iodine on the
day of birth
Vaccinate and treat the sow for parasites as
described before
Make sure that the piglets suckle as soon as
possible to take in colostrum
Avoid inbreeding
Piglets and sow
should be calm and
Piglets not suckling
and hard red teats =
Injection with iron
Pigs are tattooed at
Care of weaners
Wean at 4-6 weeks by removing sow and
leaving piglets in farrowing pen for 3-5 days
Feed small amounts of weaner feed from 10
days before weaning
Restrict feed for 1-2 days after weaning to
prevent over-eating; give wet feed
After that feed ad lib, water always available
Good food, good hygiene, good health
management and timely treatment if necessary
are the keys to success with weaners and
Mixing litters
If possible mix piglets of the same size,
age, sex
To prevent excessive fighting
Provide enough space for them to move apart
Make sure there is plenty of space at the
Provide “toys” – pieces of old motor tyres,
sacking, branches – to occupy them
Any questions?
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