Pregnancy Indicator

Built in Pregnancy Indicator

One of the questions I get a lot is how to tell if a pig is pregnant. Well, first, is it female? You think I jest but I had a government official who was here once looking at our big boar Archimedes and said, “My what a big sow!” Yes, well… she was a little sheltered, perhaps – The Department of Agriculture officials need to get out more.

So, once you’ve made sure it is female, how do you tell if your pig is pregnant? Well the first thing I do is look at the pregnancy indicator built into the back end of every female pig.

No, this is not piggy porn. What you’re looking at in the photo above is the clitoral hood of a gilt, that is to say a female pig who has not yet had a litter. This gilt’s pregnancy indicator is pointing up. Thus she is pregnant.

In fact, in her case she is very pregnant and nearing the end of her gestation term which is about 114 days (three months, three weeks, three days or so). If you look under her belly you can see that her breasts, her udder and teats, are beginning to fill out and cone up. She will farrow, that is to say, deliver her littler of piglets this coming week out in our south pastures.

In a non-pregnant gilt or sow the tip of the hood would be pointing downward or straight out, the latter the tendency in older sows. This effect is the first thing we see when a pig becomes pregnant. Later there are other signs as she progresses through her gestation.

It is important to know the lady in question before evaluating her pregnancy status since you’ll want to know what she normally looks like. Gilts tend to have downward pointing clitoral hoods since they have not yet had a litter of piglets. As they have litters there is some stretching of the feminine tissues back there which will cause gradual changes and loosening such that by the time she has had eight or ten litters her hood may well be level when she is not pregnant. Not to worry and don’t mention it to her. She’s still beautiful, right? It’s just a sign of her great fecundity – appreciate her but take it into account when evaluating her pregnancy status.

FAQ: Walter when does the “visual” sign of pregnancy that you mention on the website show for a pregnant gilt?

It is going to depend on the gilt, her condition and how many embryos are implanting and thus how much she starts to grow in the uterus. I spot them as early as a few weeks. But, this requires knowing quite intimately the normal anatomy of the ladies since it is not an absolute but rather a change that you’re looking for.

It was an old farmer by the name of Archie who first alerted me to the “pointy thing” as he put it. He didn’t know why but had observed over his 30 years of pig raising that it told him a lady was in that piggy way as he put it. I add about another decade of observation to confirm his note.

Through reasoning and then dissection for confirmation what I have found is that the effect is caused by:

  1. Lady becomes pregnant – how is a discussion for another time if you are not familiar with these dynamics;
  2. Uterus begins to enlarge as the walls thicken and fills with fluid and a lot of developing but tiny fetuses;
  3. Uterus sags down in belly hanging from connective tissue and pulls downward on vagina;
  4. Vagina pulls down on external genitalia (e.g., vulva) pulling inward the entrance to the vagina just a little;
  5. Clitoral hood is beyond the fulcrum at the front point of the mons pubis so as the point of the clitoral hood is pulled upward – simple leverage; and finally
  6. Farmer Walter walks by and looks at her vulva and thinks to himself, “ah, good” giving her a scratch behind the ears.

Pregnancy confirmed.

As the lady nears her farrowing time her vulva will swell as the tissue prepares to pass piglets. This typically causes the clitoral hood to then point back down right before birthing. By this time her bag should be fully developed and she may well be producing milk.

Sows do change over time as they have litters and get stretched out and there are individual differences. This is more of a relative indicator than absolute. Know your pig parts.

There are all sorts of expensive high-tech gadgets you can buy which do ultra-sound and the like to detect pregnancy. In my experience with around a thousand pig pregnancies I have found this method to be a highly accurate at detecting pregnancy in pigs. Keep It Simple. I’ve never had one of my pig pregnancy indicators break down and they don’t require electricity. They’re also inexpensive – they come built in with each female pig. Sorry but male pigs do not have pregnancy indicators. If you’re not sure of the difference between males and females then please check this post and this post about essential differences. The first of that pair also shows an example of a non-pregnant gilt for comparison with the pregnant gilt’s photo at the top.

Update: Some subsequent thoughts based on decades of using this with hundreds of sows as well as talking with other people who it worked for or didn’t work for… The clitoralhood works very well for me but as a funny side thought I may have inadvertently selected for sows that show their pregnancy status this way since I’ve been using this method for decades – Selective pressure creating a little bit of unintended evolution here on our farm, perhaps. On the other hand, all sows I have bought in over the years have clearly shown this too – an argument against selective pressure causing this. Reading it is also a skill. Lastly, at the end of pregnancy as the sow approaches farrowing the tip points back down as the vulva loosens and swells. That could also cause confusion. Studying the vulvas of a lot of ladies – purely educational…

This method, unlike the ultra-expensive ultra-sound imaging machinery, does not tell you how many piglets are there but I would not suggest counting your piglets before they’re weaned. By then they’ll be easy to count and if you have a lot you can use this method.

Note that this does not work the same way in humans due to structural and postural difference between sows and women. Fortunately in pig society it is considered perfectly polite to investigate someone’s butt. However, I would very much suggest suggest that you don’t go walking down the street looking at ladies of non-swine species like this as you might get in trouble.

See In a Piggy Way for another picture of a pregnant gilt a little further along.

Please Note:

I do not do pregnancy diagnostics over email so please don’t send photos of your vulva. The pregnancy diagnostic is really something where you need to know the lady in question before being able to consider if her private piggy parts indicate pregnant or open. As explained, this changes with age. It also varies with breed. It can also give a false indication if she just ate a lot and is feeling rather full – never caller her fat, just fine. The best thing to do is watch for change in your gilt or sow and get to know her normal indicator positions. Then observe the change after mating.

Outdoors: 63°F/58°F Stormy, 11″ Rain, high winds, no damage, ponds full
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/67°F

Daily Spark: Be prepared. It’s a way of life. The alternative is extinction. Either way evolution wins.

About Walter Jeffries

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264 Responses to Pregnancy Indicator

  1. Nan says:

    Facinating post. How soon do you see this?

    • Two to three weeks. Two weeks is pushing it but on some gilts and especially larger sows I can detect it that early. Their cycle time is 21 days so that is another clue – did they heat again. If they don’t heat and clits up then pregnancy is close to a sure thing.

    • David says:

      I love the pregnancy indicator and have a confirmed YES… However, she is now 119 days today and we are growing impatient :) She doesn’t even show signs of ‘bagging up’. This is a Gilt and anticipated maybe her going a little late but we want piggies. Hope you can add some insight… – Thanks!

      • At 119 days I would expect her to be bagged up. My guess is one of several possibilities:

        1) The breeding date you’re counting from might be wrong. Perhaps she cycled again and bred on the next cycle. If you’re sure it is correct then ignore this.

        2) She is a late farrower. We have seen sows that carry as much as two weeks later than usual so that would be 128 days. Still, I would expect bagging by now. However, occasionally a gilt fools us and does not bag much and then poof, she’s popping out piglets. We had one last month that did that.

        3) She’s wearing a falsie. That is to say her pregnancy indicator isn’t functioning or giving true results. This is rare in my experience but possible. Note that this is all based on our pigs and other pigs might have some difference. For example I have no idea how Pot Bellied pigs indicate.

        Remember that it is a relative indicator – it is the change in angle over time that is key.

        Good luck and may she pig soon!

  2. Betsy says:

    Great post! Very useful! Love the photos. They make it very clear. Otherwise I think I would have blushed to peak. :-)

    • My wife jokes about the gilt she saw that looked very nicely pregnant based on the round belly and then it turned – she check the clitoral hood and found herself looking at balls. Oops! He had just drunk himself full of whey and had a fat belly. :)

  3. Gretchen says:

    We AI’ed for the first time our Duroc gilt. We gave her matrix, never saw any heat and our semen window was closing fast. We thought (fingers crossed) that we saw a small sign of heat, so “juiced her up” (sorry, husband humor). Now our other gilt, a york was clearly in STANDING heat yesterday. Trying to get her back into her pen after her daily exercise, what a chore! You couldn’t touch her anywhere! She’d just stop and go into a trance! So, I’ll be looking for the “little thingy pointing to the sky”. Thanks for the info!

  4. Patricia says:

    Well, I looked at this article and the other one “In The Piggy Way”. At first I thought I had a pregnant pig. I bought her at the auction. Her teats looked just like that pic up there when I bought her. Her um, pointy thing was.. level. Horizon line. Hanging a bit. She’d had babies before, so that’s why I bought her, as she is a smaller size, I thought maybe she isn’t that old and can have one more. She got with my irritatingly mean boar, Stewie (Stewie means “stewpot ready”- as soon as he was a sperm donor. Now we have a replacement.) and they were definitely doing the deed, then after a while she wasn’t in the mood anymore. She was staring at Stewie’s fence pointedly this month, so I let her in because she was also standing perfectly still when I pushed on her hind quarters. I thought, “hmmm… maybe she didn’t take and needs another try.” Turns out when I let her in with Stewie, she just wanted his food. She truly is a pig. LOL

    So she is back in with the other piggies now and they have a nice, warm hay house with a plastic hoop top. Her pointy thing isn’t pointy anymore, although it was. She is due Oct. 24, and I see no coning up. Her boobies still look the same in that picture. In fact, one of the rear ones has a mass, hard place, like maybe she had mastitis issues at one point. Maybe it’s a good thing, now, that she might not be pregnant. Pointy thing is pointing down, she is way fatter. Eating like a pig. Who the heck knows? I guess I’ll wait until November-ish when we get a good cold snap and then both her and Stewie will meet the Great Butcher Knife in the Sky.

  5. Patricia says:

    Interestingly, I found this article with pics on Kune Kune pigs. The person shows a pic of their pregant pig with swelled up vulva. The pointy thing appears to be down. This is getting more confusing. Tomorrow is piggy’s due date and she is not “nesting” yet. In fact, she’s jumping short fences. Sigh…. But she’s fatter, and she’s rounder, and maybe there’s little bumps popping up here and there on her gut when she’s sleeping, like maybe the pushing of little piggy feet? Or maybe that’s just her breathing and she just needs to go on a diet because it’s like waves of flubber undulating… hahaha! Ugh. I am fussing over this mama pig like a ninny and it’s driving me nuts. I hope I have piggies!

    • Right near the end of the pregnancy the vulva will swell greatly causing protrusion and downward pointing of the tip. This might be what you were seeing in the photos on the Kune Kunes.

      You pig’s actual farrowing date could easily be +/-10 days from the predicted. Blackie farrows early and we have had sows farrow late, as much as a worrisome two weeks late, but then all was well.

    • Lulu says:

      Hay Patricia, what was the article you read that showed KuneKune pictures? Would you have a link by any chance?

      I keep KuneKunes and it’s been 3 weeks now since my sow weaned her first litter and went in with the boar. I’m thinking she must not have had a heat yet, or didn’t take last breeding (I never did see them mate, but she has had a swollen vulva), her pointy thingy is most definitely pointing down.

      I wonder if the anatomy is slightly different on these small breed pigs.

  6. Brandy says:

    Hello!! My Large Black/Berkshire Sow seems to be in heat AGAIN!! She has farrowed a year ago, but doesn’t seem to be getting pregnant this year…what could be wrong?? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated:)

    • A gilt may never have fertility and a sow can lose fertility. Reproduction is a very complex thing and there is a lot that must go right to make it work right. If she is having opportunity to mate with a known proven boar but not taking then I would eat her – she’s likely not fertile.

      • dave says:

        our gilt thing is always up even during heat , tried to breed her but young boar to much of gentleman so to speak , borrowed a aggressive boar and it was on like donkey kong ! now into 3rd heat no luck .. Off to the butcher with her .. Now the other girls are due in nov first and last week ..
        great site ! lots of great advise

  7. Patricia says:

    Well, the piggy actually was pregnant, she went into what I thought was “false” labor. I think I saw you post on the Homesteading forum. Mine was the sick pig in labor. We lost her. The vet wanted an awful lot of money just to come look. She had a bunch of dead piglets in her that looked like she had gotten a widespread infection from the dead piglets and it killed her. I don’t believe she ever went into “full” labor, as an hour before she was dead, she chased me all the way to the fence and tried to bite me. Apparently, she didn’t want her rear end messed with AT ALL. Her little pointy thing went up, down, all around. She must have been an old pig and had had a lot of piggies??? This last litter had one stillborn, one live that lasted one day before he just died. The rest were rotten in the womb. Not mummified, just a stink, you know?

    So there is a second gilt that her pointy thing is “up” and before it was straight down. Our little 9 month old potbelly boar was observed doing the deed, but he wasn’t quite tall enough, and hubby said the gilt was laying down on the ground so he could do the job better. It worries me, and I’m loathe to let any more piggies breed now until I get the auction pigs off my place. This second one is an auction pig, but she was a gilt. Problem was, I brought her home after seeing that she looked aparently healthy, and she started coughing, and was a bit skinny. I fed her a bunch of comfrey and chamomile and she got fatter and quit coughing. I thought the coughing was due to overheating, since my hubby had her in the stationwagon for WAY too long on a hot summer day. Then this business happened with the other pregnant pig, panting for a few days, then normal for a week, then “nesting” and apparently labor and then died. So then my little potbelly boar comes down with something, lack of appetite, listless, and getting skinny, and fast breathing. We quickly quarantined him because he was acting an awful lot like the pregnant sow that we lost, and in a couple days, despite my efforts, we lost him too. The second gilt and my little wiener pig gilt look good and are fat and sassy. I am fearing a contagious respiratory disease, now, and the vet is just… don’t even go there. If I had that kind of money, I would be buying pedigree pigs, not auction pigs, right?

    I don’t imagine it happens much now after ten or so years with pigs, but do you have the vet out for deliveries and such, and are they any cheaper in your area, just curious? I’m wondering if I need to throw in the towel and wait to get richer when I can have a vet come. Am getting quite sick of dead animals. Learned my lesson about auctions and am now buying only piglets from a farm where I can see mom, dad, the rest of the litter, etc.

    • Sorry to hear about all the troubles. I avoid buying at auction in particular because that is a location where a tremendous amount of disease comes together and I just don’t want to have anything to do with it. You don’t have to buy pedigree pigs, just get them from a farm with a closed herd and vaccinate for anything that is an issue in your area. There is a good disease diagnostic tool at thePigSite and check out the Merck Veterinarian Manual.

      As to vets, we have consulted with them via phone or email on rare occasions, and I pay for their time that way, but they never visit our farm. Coming out to the farm is way too expensive, there are not ‘pig vets’ in our area, even if they were to come the probability is they would not be able to do anything more than we can do and they visit other farms so they could bring disease to our farm. It is critical to learn to do as much care as you can. Establish a relationship with a vet you can call on for consultation and have them bill you for the time. That gives you access to their knowledge and teaches you things you’ll need to learn. Also get books on the topic and read them. Winters coming – the time for this sort of learning.

  8. Paul says:

    About six months ago I was given a large guinea sow by a friend who was getting out of the animal business. She weighs around 400 lbs and has mastitis real bad in one of her teats (about the size of a small football). She’s strong and actively gets around. She is about 4 or 5 years old and has successfully farrowed before. I treated her mastitis with 4 cc’s of penecillian on one occasion, no real change has occured. I wanted to bread her to my landrace but I’m worried that would be bad especially after reading about Patricia’s experience above. What are my options? Can a vet do surgery to fix her? Is it possible for her to have a litter in this condition with the piglets sucking on the other teats? If so I presume I’d need to bandage the infected teat so the piglets don’t try to use it and get poisened. Is trying to extend her life and utility longer just un-economical wishful thinking and I should have her butchered before she dies? Or are there other options I may consider without breaking the bank.

    • My inclination is to observe twice the withdrawal time for any medications you used to treat her and then slaughter her for the meat. Having a vet do surgery on her is likely going to be extremely expensive. She may have genetic predisposition to the mastitis which is not good.

      • Josh Ellis says:

        I have recently had an issue with mastitis. My farrowing area was dark and damp so I culled my sows, built new farrowing pens and have bought some gilts. They are 1-2 weeks from farrowing now. I squeeze the utters as a check and have noticed that the utters feel firm. Is it normal for the utter to become firm before farrowing? Being that they have never farrowed, I am assuming that it isn’t an environmental issue. They all sleep under a shed with wheat straw bedding. It is for the most part dry except after a hard rain and then I quickly add more bedding. My only other suspicion is that it may be my water. I have had my well water tested and it came back positive for coli-form bacteria. I know this is common and not a HUGE concern. But I water in 55 gal. drums with gravity flow nipples. I wonder if the water sitting in the barrels gives the bacteria a chance to become more intense. I fill the barrel about twice a weeks for 6 pigs. Have you had any experience with mastitis? I realize I have thrown out a lot of information pretty randomly. Just trying to get some feedback. I had a terrible experience last time and am paranoid it is coming back. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for this blog. It has been a tremendous resource and encouragement.

        • Cold damp is hard. Adding lots of wood chips, wood shavings, hay, creating sloped drainage, having a roof, a swale above are all things that help. I have only seen two or maybe three cases of mastitis in 13 years with hundreds of sows so it is not common. It is possible that bacteria is growing in the barrels. Adding some vinegar might help. A small amount of bleach (~1 tbsp/gal) is another option but not both at once. These help to sanitize. I think the damp bedding is more likely at issue or genetic susceptibility.

  9. Paul says:

    Seems like the sensible thing to do even though I’m disappointed I won’t get a litter out of her. Thanks for the advise. I’ll put my efforts into my Landrace hogs.

  10. Eden says:

    That’s cool. Works for me and my piggies.

  11. Peter says:

    Hello, I have a gilt thats vulua is pointing up at 5months old? Its this normal ?
    I bought 2 pigs 4 month old male and female , she has just been put in her own pen.

    • I doubt she’s pregnant given her age. This may be her normal angle of dangle. Note it and the watch it for change after breeding. It is really the change that is the indication.

    • Mari says:

      If they are all co-habitate then your gilt is pregnant. Mine was 6 months old and got pregnant with a 6 month old male pig.

      • Unfortunately co-habitation does not guarantee pregnancy. Not all females are fertile. Industry wide they talk about 75% being fertile. I find the rate of female fertility to be closer to 95% but I may have more patience. Males have a simpler reproductive system and a higher rate of fertility but also are not at 100%.

  12. bill rodgers says:

    I received my Gilt in Jan 1012 she was 8 weeks I she is a spot land racer mix i got my boar in March 2012 he was 12 weeks old this is Sept and she is not bread yet should i be concerned ? she has not shown signs of coming into heat yet that i have caught but i do work 12 hrs a day away from home so i have limited time with them.

    • bill rodgers says:

      they both have been raised in the same pen if that makes a difference

    • At 11 months old I would expect her to be pregnant by now and to farrow this coming month, October or early November at the latest. Heat signs typically last about three days or so and come on about every 21 days. She might be a late bloomer. If she hasn’t shown signs of pregnancy by December then I would suspect that either he or she are duds. Without pairing them to known good breeders it is hard to know which of them is the problem.

      Females have more complicated reproductive tracts, there are a lot more things that must go right and that can go wrong since not only do they have to produce the egg, get impregnated but also gestate the litter, birth it and rear it. In the industry I hear that about 75% of females are fertile. On our farm we see a higher percentage than that but I also may be more patient.

  13. Im trying the A I. For the first time and im trying this method on a gilt that has never had a litter yet, I done the A.I on Sept. 28,2012, when can I start seeing a change to tell if the A.I. took or not… The only thing I have noticed that she seems to eat her feed faster and is very vocal when she is out and wants more..

    • On some gilts and sows I can just barely start to see the clitoral hood changing angle after three weeks. She should also have missed her next cycle although that is not a guarantee since sometimes they have false pregnancies – we had one that did that. They stop cycling for a while. If you are familiar with the normal non-pregnant shape of her body and hood angle then you maybe able to notice a change. Keep a photo record helps with this.

  14. Hine says:

    Hi…..just wondering if it is alright for female pigg to mate with her son pig……awwww i think shes preggy…. she huge, with thing pointing straight and kinda up….. but tittys look full and when lying down (shes been lying alot) today, looks like movements are happening

  15. Hine says:

    thankls for that Walter……. nw mama pigg had sum piggys….. 3 died, 3 alive…. and i dont think by the way the piggys are not staying latched on….. is mama pigg, or is mama pigg milk due to come in?

    • Ours typically start lactating a day or so before they farrow so I would expect her to be producing milk by now. Gently massage her breasts and pull on the teats a little to see if you can help get her started.

      • Hine says:

        ummm…errrr…..nah its ok….., hehehehe…. wish you were here so that you can do it, hehehehe….. no, shes doing good, and shes had another one since i looked last…….thanks :)

  16. Hine says:

    excuse my poor writing skills….. i sound fobish,lol……. anyway i think Mama piggs still about to have more babies…(i think) is that possible? 1st lot was born about 5 hours ago

  17. Megan Walley says:

    How old does a male need to be to able to breed my female successfully???? My frmale is a year old and ready.. He is only abot 8 monTHS and doesnt seem to look “rwady”.

    • The pigs start doing sexual play at three to four months but are not fertile yet. At about five to six months the males are ejaculating viable sperm in small quantities, enough to get a female pregnant but not really a good breeder yet. Boars hit their breeding stride at about ten months.

      Gilts, young females, typically are ready to breed at about eight months and have their first litter at one year. However, once in a while we have what we term a Lolita, a gilt who breeds as early as six months and farrows her first litter at ten months.

      So your pigs are of age to breed. The gilt should cycle about every 21 days. The heat period is generally about three days. Her vulva should engorge, turn pink and the boar should be come very interested in her. At the peak of her heat she’ll go into what is termed ‘standing heat’. During this if you press on her hips she should stand very still and accept the boar’s mating her. Much of the interaction between them is governed by the release of pheromones.

      Note that not all pigs are fertile. I don’t know what the rate of infertility is in boars but females have a more complex reproductive system and industry wide they talk about only 75% of gilts being fertile. I find that with our pigs the percentage of fertile females is higher but then maybe I’m just a little more patient with the ladies.

  18. Tony Ellison says:

    In early December I purchased a pregnant Yorkshire Durok cross. She is two years old and when I bought her I was told she was due to farrow late December to early January. The previous owner was not really sure of the week she was serviced. On the 28th of December she started showing a lot of the classic signs of pre- farrowing (swelling of the vulva, pacing, chewing on everything in sight, and spending most of the time she was not doing that laying on her side) and I was SURE she was going to go into labor on the 3rd of Jan by the way she was acting. She had started a lot of heavy breathing, she woudlnt stand up, and she was dripping a small ammount of milky fluid from her vulva. She has however since then returned to her happy friendly energetic self. Her teats started to enlarge several weeks ago but she has yet to really “bag up” at all. How much longer do I wait before I need to start getting worried?

    • I see two possibilities:

      1) We had one sow who for her first litter gave birth to six piglets and then two weeks later gave birth to another nine piglets. Pigs have two horns to their uterus so they can carry two sets of fetuses. It is possible that your sow had one horn empty, tried to birth that horn and that soon she’ll birth the other horn. The fact that she is not fully bagged up leads me to thing this is a possibility. That is the good news scenario. If this is true then you should be able to still feel fetal movement on her belly. In that case I would advice patience and observation.

      2) The worse possibility is that the piglets are dead inside her and she could not expel them. If they stay in there the decomposing bodies might killer her or not. It is a bad situation. If this is true then you should not be able to feel any fetal movement on her belly.

      Observe her for up to two weeks. Monitor her rectal temperature to detect infection. If you are willing to spend the money and want to save her then contact a vet as soon as possible. There is a drug they can inject which induces labor, causing contractions and that may clear her out.

      Personally I would slaughter her if I think it is scenario #2. She is not likely to be fertile again and her meat may still be good. If you wait for infection to set in then you will lose the meat.

  19. togi says:

    Wow this is very indonesian, i raise a couple of pigs in a cage back home for a couple years now,i got let say one month pregnant pig,,my problem is,the pig wont eat nothin-ive tried everythin they could like,as part of my experience was when pig dont eat anything u cant expect them to die in couple days later.whats is the best solutions for this?it would be a great help if i can keep the pig stay alive

  20. Hello there,

    Thank you so much for sharing your piggy expertise. We have two mini-potbellied pigs (I know there are some differences between hogs and pot-bellied) and I am pretty sure our female is pregnant. I was wondering if it’s a bad idea to leave the male in the pen with her. Of course we can’t predict when her labor will be and she has a nice farrowing pen, but the male has access to it. They are incredibly bonded, but I know behavior can be unpredictable. Any words of wisdom? Thanks!

    • Yes, separate them as she gets into late gestation. If you can setup a fence between them that they can see and smell through then it will allow them to maintain contact. When she is farrowing she needs to be able to establish a private nest so the piglets have just her attention. Put up a piglet proof barrier at the bottom of the fence so they do not wander across.

  21. Someone asked:
    How soon will the “pregnancy indicator” work on a sow?

    It shouldn’t work until the second month, based on my understanding of swine physiology but I think I can detect it as early as about three weeks. This suggests either the uterus is thickening by then or I am hallucinating. :)

    Realize that it is a relative thing, that is one must compare with the sow and how she’s changing, not compared with other sows or some arbitrary perfect model sow.

  22. Jennifer says:

    We have a sow we thought was pregnant with a pregnancy indicator pointing down, but her teats are big and the other females piglets are nursing off her. She has never had babies before. Could/would the piglets nursing cause such dramatic changes. Can the indicator be wrong? We are going to eat her but would hate to find piglets!

    • You say the pregnancy indicator, the clitoral hood, was pointing down. So that is the not-pregnant position. This is very individual to the sow – it is a relative indicator, not absolute.

      How does she look otherwise. By the time they bag, engorged teats, her belly should be very rounded from pregnancy and she should be close to farrowing.

      Mammals, both male and female, have been induced to lactate through teat stimulation so it is possible that the sucking by the other pigs is causing this. I would strongly suggest isolating her away from other pigs. If she is lactating and about to farrow then she needs the privacy. If she is not pregnant then you don’t want her being nursed. If you are going to slaughter her then you want her to debag and to put on weight for slaughter, not produce milk for other pigs. Sounds like it is time to separate any way you cut it.

  23. Anita Jacobson says:

    Thank You for this article, I raise mini pigs.

    Do you mind if I put a link to this on my page?

    • That is fine, but your might indicate that we are a farm, not a rescue or pet pigs. I say that because occasionally someone who is into pigs as pets gets upset about the idea of raising pigs for meat. We raise farm pigs. They are fast growing and get very big unlike the mini, teacup and Pot Bellied pigs which stay smaller size and thus are a better fit with the traditional pet model.

  24. Debbie says:

    Thank you for a very informative site! 2 weeks ago we got our first AGH. The previous owner said she should be ready to go in 3 weeks. ( that was 2 weeks ago) This is her second litter…and our first with her. I am so very excited! IF the previous owner was right, we should have piglets this coming weekend, or so. I am so in love with our little girl…and big boy. Venturing into raising our own meat is going to be exciting..and scarey at the same time. We buy 2 every year to raise just for the freezer, this is our first time with breeding…so…wish us luck! :)

  25. Debbie says:

    OK, so the sow we got 2 weeks ago, the previous owner said : she is due in about 3 weeks” That would make her due this weekend. When I was out there this evening, I noticed she is “bagged up” quite full. So, 24 hours possibly???

  26. Debbie says:

    She finished with 4 little ones. 2 males 2 females. Everyone is nursing quietly….no fussing, so I am assuming there is milk. Do I need to go squeeze a teet to make sure!?? No one is fussing, just latched on and settled in nice.

  27. Debbie says:

    Thank you. She is the calmest momma ever. This is why I chose this breed. I sat in the hay with her after birthing…and rubbed her belly….feeling for more…scratched her head and cheeks and pet the wee ones. Daddy pig laid outside the whole time…just watching. He is a great daddy too, so I had to go give him some piggy lovin afterwards. :) I just LOVE our AGH’s!

  28. Ken in NH says:

    Walter, I’ve spent hours on this site digesting priceless knowledge that you are generous enough to share. This is my second year keeping pigs and my first year breeding (hopefully – as it hasn’t happened yet), so I’m still wet behind the ears.

    This info about pregnancy is very helpful. It’s answered questions I’ve had for months. Tomorrow at first light I’m going for some clitoris viewing with my coffee! Perhaps my wife will let me practice on her tonight…. :O (sorry. I had to say it. It was there…)

    One of the many challenging things for me is moving these hoofed hulks. I’m hoping you can share with me (and others) an easy way to move these uncooperative masses to and from various locations on the farm.

    I’ve been given “advice” from others that have been nothing less than frustrating – albeit entertaining to my wife and other onlookers.

    If you say “just put a bucket over their head and move them backwards”, I am going to lose all respect for you! (j/k, but really!)

    I’m surprised there is no post on this subject…. or perhaps I just haven’t found it yet.


  29. Ken in NH says:

    You think I jest but I had a government official who was here once looking at our big boar Archimedes and said, “My what a big sow!”

    And these folks claim to know what’s best for us and try to dictate our lives… :/ ugh.

  30. Kelsey says:

    Hey, I have a pot belly pig who we believe is pregnant, although the male pig continues to try to have sex with her. If she is pregnant, will she let him, or will she deny it and get angry at him?

  31. Mayra Vargas says:

    hi well I just wanted to ask does a sow when its pregnant does it still get in heat?

    • I have read of sows showing heat even when pregnant but it must be rather rare as I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it even with the hundreds of sows we’ve had over the years.

      On the other end of the spectrum there are false pregnancies which I have seen at least once where a sow mates, stops heating but never actually is pregnant and does not farrow. Not to be confused with those who miscarry or retain a litter.

  32. Mayra Vargas says:

    well the sow that I was telling you she wasn’t pregnant. But now I have another question we put her in with the boar on September 3 and today I found out that she is still in heat do you think the boar is to small for her or maybe she is to fat?

    • A sows heat last about three days and comes around about every 21 days. Mark the calendar as to the start and end of her heat and then count forward to when you would next expect her to reheat. If the boar is too small he should grow into the job – males typically grow a lot faster than females. I’ve seen small boars mate larger sows. One trick they do is stand up hill of her. Infertility is also a possibility in either if she stays open.

  33. mayra vargas says:

    okay well I put her in today with the boar should I leave her there these three days with him or should I take her out? what would you recommend?

  34. mayra vargas says:

    hi well I put the sow with the boar and she is in heat so do I leave her there for the three days or what do you do?

    • I would just leave them together. We leave our boars and sows together as they’re happier that way. The only reason we separate them is if we’re trying to prevent breeding. At farrowing time the sows need to be able to get privacy from other pigs such as out in the margins of the pastures or in nurseries in the winter.

  35. Karen says:

    Hi, I found your site the other day and it is interesting. My daughter is in 4-H and we decided we would try to breed her gilt so she can have piggies for fair next summer. We are completely new to breeding pigs. We AI’d her on the 10th/11th of September. She seemed to have missed coming back into heat this next time. Since we are fairly new to this, we aren’t sure if maybe we missed the heat ourselves. I saw the way that you found out the pregnancy indicator. I got to looking at ours and compared, and I’m thinking she is pregnant. Her feed intake has increased. Here is a picture of her. Input would be great. Thank you! Pig Vulva

    • She does look pregnant based on just her clitoral hood. Remember that this is a relative rather than absolute indicator so you need to compare it with how she looked before she might have been pregnant. For example, it appears that her vulva is higher up than on our pigs. With different breeds the genitals may be structured a little differently just as other conformations of the pigs vary breed to breed.

      Time will tell. If she took from the AI on September 10th then she should have piglets around the New Years. That is a hard time in our climate. Be sure to be completely ready for her to farrow. A roof. Wind protection. Deep bed pack. Wood shavings are very good for building that well ahead of time. Hay on hand for her to build a nest – don’t add hay yourselves as you won’t chew or pack it right. Winter farrowing is the hard time – especially for a first time gilt and first time farrowing farmer. Your daughter may want to sleep out near her. Be very aware that some sows become aggressive when they have piglets – don’t get hurt.

      • Karen says:

        Thanks for the info. She’s changed a bit back there, so I was thinking that maybe she is pregnant. Right now she is outside but has shelter. When she gets close to having the piglets, we will move her to a farrowing crate inside of a heated barn. Right now she is a big baby. I am hoping that she keeps that temperament. She will lay down to get her belly scratched. Thank you for the great information!

  36. Anita says:

    My 16month old sow gave birth 24hrs ago to her first litter of 4 piglets. Can she be served by the boar again in the next day or 2? I have read somewhere this is true, but cannot find it again. I read the sow can be presented to the boar up to 3 days after giving birth. If not then, when will she be able to go back to the boar? Look forward to your reply.l

    • Some sows will rebreed within ten days of farrowing. We’ve seen this in our Blackie line. However that is unusual. Normally sows don’t reheat until about seven days after weaning. It takes an exceptional sow to be able to handle rebreeding while also nursing.

    • Ken says:

      For what it’s worth, my sow stood for the boar (twice in a row!) five days after delivering her first litter. She grew very lean within the following weeks as she was pregnant AND nursing – to the point where I was really concerned for her health. However, after weening the piglets at 6 weeks of age she has rebounded beautifully. She looks and acts healthy and pregnant now, with an expected delivery date of just a few weeks.
      Good luck.

      • Ken says:

        Well, today is day number 117 and she still hasn’t delivered. There is no sign of eminent delivery. I was up all hours of the morning researching and reading. I read that after 118 days the risk of complications increase tremendously. We’re growing nervous that there may be a problem. Should I worry or have you experienced late deliveries beyond 117/118 days? This is to be her second litter – the first went perfectly smooth.

        One thing that I should mention is I was woefully behind schedule moving her to her winter location. I moved her just two weekends ago (which was about one week before her due date) and the move was somewhat stressful to her. She really, really did NOT want to move from her current location. I tried to coax her out of her pen with a rope on a hind leg, but she was very displeased with the idea so I quickly stopped. (Her mate seemed to enjoy the leash walk. I only use the rope method as a safety precaution and to prevent run offs. I don’t pull or drag! I used visible barriers as per your recommendation and it worked great!) Once I got her to her winter location, she seemed quite happy with her new Ritz-Carlton style shelter and quickly began digging her crater/nest. Would have the stress of the move and being in a new location complicated her pregnancy, being so close to the due date?

        Though I see no usual signs of eminent delivery (fluid discharge), her teats appear to be as they should. I do not see any signs of complications either, though I have nothing to go by except theoretical knowledge obtained from reading.

        • The latest we have had a sow successfully deliver was about two weeks after her due date.

          We had a sow go longer than that – she died.

          I would use sorting boards and several people to move her rather than a rope on her leg. As long as you’re not pulling that shouldn’t hurt her.

          Stress can cause a pregnancy loss but it would take a lot of stress. It does not sound to me like she went through that much.

          Do you have photos from side and back of her that you can post somewhere and provide a link?

          • Ken says:

            Unfortunately, I am a one-man team, so using several people wasn’t an option. Again, I only use the rope as a precaution, not as a way of pulling or anything. And since she showed displeasure with it, I removed it and walked her without it. The hardest part was just getting her out of the pen – or more likely getting her to move across her memorized barrier of where the electric fence was. Once I got her out, she walked very nicely to the new location along the path I set up and using a golf hole flag to guide her along.

            Here are the pics I just took. They didn’t come out so good because the boar kept bucking me for attention. He just loves being scratched on the belly and won’t leave me alone until I do so!




            Thanks! You’ve already put my mind at ease a bit…

          • She does not look pregnant to me. Is it possible she was bred much later, say 21 days later on her next heat? She looks like she has had a litter but isn’t bagging now. See these photos for examples of bagging sows who are close to term.

          • Ken says:

            She stood for the boar twice in row on Aug 1. I specifically checked for signs of heat between Aug. 19 – 25 and found none. (I keep a farm diary)

            She looks just like she did during her last pregnancy at same stage and I’ve seen internal piglet movement as recently as four days ago. I haven’t seen definitive movement since, but I have not had enough time to spend with her, so that’s inconclusive.

            I should’ve noted that she is scratching her back on the top of the shelter entrance in the side photo. That would be why she does not look saggy, I think.

            I suppose there’s a chance that she was impregnated later than I observed, but I think it’s very unlikely. I paid special attention making sure she was pregnant because her first litter was a surprise.

            Well, you didn’t say she looks like she’s going to die, so that’s good :) Thanks again, I guess I’ll just have to wait it out and see.

          • Interesting. She looks healthy but more like what I associate with a mature sow after weaning than close to farrowing. I’m used to seeing very significant bagging near farrowing time such that the breasts are fully engorged and the skin is tight as well as the belly area being very large and rounded.

            Time will tell. Keep us posted.

          • Ken says:

            Would she have stood for the boar if she was not in heat??

          • Possibly. I’ve seen it happen. We have some sows who are, well, er, shall we say, more than willing most of the time.

          • Ken says:

            Ahhh, I was not aware that was a possibility. That might explain it. She’s tricked me, perhaps. And to think she’s living within 30′ of my smokehouse…. hmm

  37. Debbie says:

    Ken, so what is happening with your sow? I have been following, not commenting, and was wondering if she had a litter or not?

    • Ken says:

      Mr. Jefferies was right, as always. Which is why I come here for all my questions. The sow tricked me – which is easy since I am new to breeding swine.

      Seems she is not, and was not, pregnant. Though I did see her mate twice in a row shortly after delivering her first litter, she must not have been in heat at the time. That would explain why I saw no signs of heat when I checked 3 weeks later.

      As far as me thinking she looked like she was pregnant, I failed to consider that she is still young and growing. Her increased size was just her filling out, not filling up. I still don’t understand the movement in her belly that my daughter and I had witnessed – perhaps just muscle twitches?

      I’ve been religiously checking for signs of heat since my last post here and have not seen any. I don’t know why she still isn’t pregnant. Perhaps my boar has discovered he’s gay, I don’t know – though I try not to let him watch too much TV or pay attention to modern American politics….. lol

      It’s been so damn cold lately, they just “spoon” in their shelter all day.

      Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

  38. Debbie says:

    Im sorry she fooled you. Our sow is in with her man, and has yet to..umm…consummate the relationship. He tries…she just doesn’t love him like she NEEDS too! I am still waiting. Good luck with your sow.

    • We occasionally see gilts who don’t mate. Perhaps they’re too skitterish, too ticklish, maybe it hurts. For what ever reason they don’t quite finish the act. This is with boars who are experienced and know how to do their job so the problem is not on the boar’s end. Of course, gilts like this get culled.

  39. Debbie says:

    Well, I can’t cull her….she is my only sow. American Guinea Hogs. I am depending on her to give in…eventually. I think I will move her to another pen for a few months…with electric between them of course….give her a break. Then watch for signs of heat, and put her back after a good rest.

  40. April says:

    I have a gilt that I put the boar in with on Aug 30th 2013 and took him back out sept 4th.. She has been showing signs that it’s gonna be soon.. But I have been up and down every couple hours since Saturday night.. It’s now Monday.. He teats are showing that she is bagging some I can’t get any milk out of them.. She is driving me crazy trying to figure out when she’s gonna deliver.. Her vulva has been been swollen for days.. She’s very relaxed I rub her belly and she lays down and told on her side.. What other signs am I looking for because I’m trying to make sure I am there to assist if needed..

    • You’re looking for the right things. Typical gestation time in pigs is 114 days however I’ve seen sows be as much as two weeks early or late. She should start nesting behavior – gathering hay, chomping it to shorten the stem length, packing it down in a bowl. Right before farrowing they typically are not interested in food and might even have diarrhea or constipation. Check her twice daily. Don’t worry too much. A good sow needs little to no intervention or assistance during farrowing.

      As a side note: If possible I would leave them together instead of putting her in for such a short time. A month makes sure since the heat cycle is 21 days for most pigs. Being herd animals they like the company.

  41. Nicki says:

    I am new to the site and I have a somewhat odd question. We were given a potbellied pig by someone who could no longer care for her. She has her small job on our farm of turning the chicken poo in the bottom of the coop and she does a wonderful job of it. Anyways here is my question. The person we got her from said that she may or may not be pregnant and that if she was it was their land racer/Yorkshire cross that got her. Well she is bagging up and most definitely pregnant. So what are these piglets going to be? Better yet what am I to do with these piglets? We are not a breeding facility at least not for pigs, we raise replacement dairy heifers. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    • I have no experience with Potbellied Pigs. My guess is they’ll carry traits from both breeds and thus be larger than the mother when they get full sized. My understanding is PotBellied Pigs tend toward lard. Soon you’ll know. If you don’t want them, raise them on hay and dairy or grain until their eight weeks old, wean them, advertise them and sell them. Be sure to let the buyers know the parentage as they may not be as good for meat as the boar.

  42. Ken says:

    UPDATE: Coldest night of the season, so far, with a forecast of -17f for tonight. The sow has decided to surprise me yet again – she is currently delivering an unexpected litter. This can not end well… Ugh.

    • This is an extraordinary situation. I hope that she is out of the wind and has a good nest. Do not add hay because people don’t chew it up right and pack it properly. If you must add bedding use wood shavings. Consider having the piglets nurse for a while and then bringing them indoors to your house where it is warm for several hours, then take them out and do supervised visitation nursing. They don’t need to nurse for very long but they do need to get some colostrum and milk into them right away. Rinse and repeat. It is supposed to warm up this weekend. Then with a hover next to her, possibly with a light for warmth they should do well. Keep an eye on things.

  43. Ken says:

    The good news is: she is in a 3-1/2 sided shelter with a fair amount of hay from previous days. I did add some fresh hay tonight, but just around the bottoms of the sides to fill in drafty gaps.

    The bad news: the boar is also inside the shelter. Though he seems to be a really good dad, he is still large and the shelter is only so big.

    Every time I go out there the boar (and sometimes the sow) gets up and moves around, in and out of the shelter. I’ve already found one dead piglet the first time I checked. Though I don’t know how it died, it did looked squashed when I saw it. I think I’m going to let mother nature take its course… in a man made shelter… for tonight.?.?. If there is no chance for them to survive the cold then I must intervene.

    • Ken says:

      Unless there are some hiding under the hay, it appears we have 2 survivors. The first born was dead when I first discovered the sow was farrowing. A surprisingly small litter of 3 …

      Having survived a -13f birth, I shall dub the precariously persistent piglets Eskimo and Frostbite.

      • On the one hand since it was a very small litter these are piglets that should be routed towards feeders rather than breeders.

        On the other hand if they survive and thrive winter farrowing then that is points in their favor towards selecting for winter hardy genetics.

        You’ll may want to think about if the litter size is a genetic problem (poor female fertility, poor implanting, low egg release), a stress issue (stress can cut implanting and thus litter count), a disease issue (there are several that cause low litter counts) or a breeding problem (e.g., low sperm count from a cold, only one mating).

        Our new litters born over the past two weeks went through the -24°F night we just had and then last night a litter was born at 1°F and is doing well. A good nest in a wind sheltered space in the open south field shed with the high heat of the mother (103°F) is very helpful. However, I strongly advise (and should take this own advice myself) that one avoid winter farrowing if possible. We try and cluster our farrowing away from the worst weather but have to do some in the winter to meet our year round market. Open greenhouses and deep bed packs are helpful.

        Good luck with your piglets! May Eskimo and Frosty thrive and be the foundation of a winter tolerant line of pigs for you.

  44. Kelsea Amann says:

    Hi Mr.Walter,
    I was wondering if my pig is pregnant because I have never had a pig that has been. Her belly is round and her nipples seem to be noticeable, and when I check her indicator it is sticking straight out/horizontal. Her belly is more round and extended compared to her female friends. Hopefully the pictures help.

    • She doesn’t look pregnant to me in the photos. I’m not seeing any development of her breast line and her hip line is still strong. Her vulva is something that is a relative measure, so you would be better at telling if it has risen however on the absolute scale I would say no. Time will tell. What was the date that she might have bred?

  45. Sandy Cassinelli says:

    I have a gilt that i thought was a couple weeks over due. We watched her for another three weeks and thought we were going to have to butcher her. Thinking the pigs had died inside of her. After the third week she appeared to be dropping, so we have been checking her twice a day for the last week. For the last 5 days we have been getting pretty good milk from her tits but she still is not showing signs of going into labor. Everything i have research said that she should go into labor within 48 hrs of milking. Do you have any other suggestions or advice?

    • Gilts are particular hard to gauge. Generally a sow will farrow within a day or two of lactating. However some big experienced sows may lactate for a week.

      Can you feel piglet motion?

      • Sandy says:

        I have not been able to feel any motion. where is the easiest place to feel it and when?

        • When she is laying down and has been calm for a little while is when I typically see motion. It can be very visible. If you lay your hand on her belly, up a little on the side in front of her hip, you may be able to feel them even if you can’t see motion.

  46. Sandy says:

    I have tried for the last two days and have not been able to feel anything. She is a gilt but she is a large one. She is about a year and a half now. Is there something else I should check.

    • It wouldn’t be unusual to not feel anything since they aren’t moving all the time. I think patience is all you can do at this point.

      • Sandy says:

        She went into labor yesterday afternoon and delivered 9 or more decomposed babies. We are going to give her a shot of antibiotics to try to fend off any infections that may follow having the decomposing pigglets inside of her. What are the chances of her being successful with future litters? Or should we just consider butchering her?

        • The chance of future litters could be good if this lost litter was caused by PPV, a viral disease, because now she has resistance. But it is also possible that her ability to carry a litter is now diminished. Without trying, it’s hard to say. If she is otherwise a prime I would try again with her. Two times would be the limit though.

          • Sandy says:

            Thank you so much for the information. Is there a vaccine available for PPV? Also, could you tell me what you recommend for vaccinations for Breeding stock and pigglets?

          • Yes, there are several. They generally also cover a number of other reproductive diseases all in one shot. Note that I’m not saying your sow had PPV, although that is a good possibility since PPV will do exactly what you saw. Without lab tests it is hard to know.

            FarrowSure Gold B is a vaccine that “Protects swine against 6 strains of Lepto (includes L. bratislava), porcine parvovirus” as stated on the Jeffer’s Livestock web site. They are a good source of vaccines as well as other farming supplies. It is new gilts coming up to breeding age that need the most protection as they lack immunity. If she had PPV she should now be immune to that although there are other reproductive diseases.

            A good web site with a good diagnostic tool for disease is The Pig Site Disease Diagnostic Tool. It does tend to give back a lot of false positives you must weed through but it can be helpful. Work patiently through the possibilities.

  47. Patti says:

    I have a gilt that was originally bought to butcher, but we decided to keep her to raise some piglets. She’s currently 8 1/2 months old and appears to be pregnant. Her belly is hanging a little, and her udder is looking larger every day. Her teats are also getting larger. Trouble is, she would be bred to one of her brothers. We separated them at 6 1/2 months of age, with females and castrated males in one pen and uncastrated males in another. Is it possible that she is pregnant? Any advice or suggestions you could offer would be great. I’ve never raised piglets before, just weaners for meat. Thanks!

    • She sounds pregnant. This is not a disaster. Brother breeding sister in pigs is not a big issue. If you do it on purpose and carefully then it is called line-breeding. If you do it accidentally then it is in-breeding. In humans you don’t want this close breeding for various social reasons and because we’re not willing to cull the offspring – too much emotional attachment. But in pigs, if there is a defect you simply eat the pig – it’s called a terminal pig. No big deal. If the pair are throwing defects it tells you that you have some negative recessive genes you don’t want in your herd so cull the parents.

      Gilts normally take at about eight months although occasionally I’ll see one take as early as six months. We call these early ones Lolitas. Lolitas can have fine litters and grow to be excellent sows. “Mouse” was a Lolita and provided us with years of great litters before meeting her disassembler.

      If they produce fine pigs then you know even more so that you have good genetics. Keep track of your lineages and their offspring’s traits.

      Breed the best of the best and eat the rest. It’s a simple and reliable path to improving the genetics of your herd.

      • Patti says:

        Thank you very much Walter! I’m relieved to hear that this is not a disaster in the making, and am somewhat excited to see the results. In your opinion is it too late to deworm her? Also, once the piglets are born, what do I need to do with them? ie. when to castrate, cutting needle teeth, when to give iron injections, etc. Like I said, this is all new to me, so I’m trying to gather as much info as possible to make this a positive experience. Thanks for sharing so much info with us!

        • I think you can probably deworm her just fine right now. Consult the dewormer you wish to use to be sure. You may also find this article of interest: Worms Au Natural.

          For interventions, see: Piglet Interventions.

          • Patti says:

            Our poor Petunia, as the kids have lovingly named her still has not farrowed, but is looking bigger every day! Her udder is still increasing in size and her belly is bulging… I have seen fetal movement, but not for the last few days. Her vulva appears a little swollen compared to normal too, but she isn’t exhibiting any signs of nesting, etc. I have dewormed her with Ivomec as was recommended by my vet. I don’t have a farrowing crate for her, and am not sure if one is even necessary. She is a box pen that is 12′ X 12′ and has her bed in one corner. Any thoughts? I’d like to post a pic on here of her for you to examine, but not sure if that is allowed. I could email to you directly if that would be more suitable. I want to thank you again very much for sharing all of this information with everyone. I am amazed at how much I have learned just by reading material that you have posted.

          • For pictures, what people have often done is use photo sharing web sites and then post a link to the photo. At this point it is a matter of waiting. Hopefully the pregnancy progresses properly.

          • Patti says:

            Petunia has 9 beautiful active piglets. There is one runt but she’s just as lively as the rest so I’m sure she’ll be fine. We cut their teeth and gave an iron injection as was recommended by our vet. Thank you very much for all your help and information.

  48. Sandy says:


    Thank you very much for the information. I think we will give her another try just incase it was PPV. I will also get the FarrowSure Gold B so i can vaccinate my other young gilts. Are their other virus’ or diseases you recommend vaccinating for?

  49. Stormy says:

    We have a gilt and bred her 21 days ago. She is showing signs of heat, however does not stand, where she normally will lock up. Could this be a false heat and still be pregnant?

    • Stormy says:

      Fyi: her behavior has changed over last week, she seems to be more hungry and has become aggressive against other pigs, where she normally is sweet. Not sure if this is a true heat or if she was pregnant and losing them. Again she has a swollen vulva, discharge, but is not standing and she does have a pointed up tip

    • I have seen sows who were pregnant appear to come into heat but like you note they don’t stand so perhaps she is pregnant. A change in behavior like your describe generally comes closer to the end when they’re thinking about nesting sites but as her hormones changes this could occur.

      • Stormy says:

        She started standing today. Purchased more semen and going to try again. Hopefully this time will take. Ugh gilts are so unpredictable. ..

      • Stormy says:

        She started standing on Wednesday morn, so we ran to a sire place and picked up more semen. Last night and again ttday i tried to hit her again with semen. She stood, ears perked up, and she would not suck any up either time. I tried repositioning to make sure i was not on uterine wall but nothing. She sucked up all the semen first time we bred but this time will not.

        • You’re in new territory for me – I’ve only read about Artificial Insemination (AI). I am interested to know your progress.

          • Stormy says:

            She is pregnant and is due in next couple of weeks. I don’t think that she will last the whole time though. She has already started coning up with her teats and is hardly moving much because she is so big. She has 16 teats so I sure hope she does not have that many.

  50. Loren says:

    We are very new to pigs and we A.I.’d our sow on April 25th, putting her due date around August 19th. We actually have no idea if she is pregnant, other then she has not been in “heat” as she has not shown her normal signs. And thanks to your article, her hood is pointed up, her teats are enlarged (as of this week), so we are just assuming. Today we started to notice a watery like discharge coming from her vulva. She appears to be normal, she is eating and her behavior is the same. Is this a sign of farrowing? She is early, so not sure what that would mean. Is this a sign of something else? Do you have any advice, suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    • Discharges sometimes happen. She sounds normal. Watch for nesting behavior. Sows can go as early as two weeks before their due date in my experience. My sister was born a month early. My brother a month late. I was on time. Punctual from the start? :)

      • Loren says:

        Thank you for the reply. We weren’t expecting her to be early, no one ever told us about the early. So we were not prepared. But now we have the piglet pin with heat lamp and straw. We spread the straw and left her for an hour, when we returned she had it piled up in one corner. She is also secreting milk when “milked” (sorry I don’t know the farm terminology)

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