Tamworth Piglets in North Home Field
Remus , brother of Romula, checking out a new litter of Tamworth piglets in the North Home Field.
Sows do nothing to help the piglets during birthing. Their job is to prepare a nest in a good spot and then to simply to lay there, push, breath and be a milk bar. The piglets come out, clean themselves off, walk around the sow to her teats and begin nursing with no assistance. That is life at the piggy maternity ward.
After the birthing the next important thing for a sow to do is be a good lay. Some of you might be thinking, “Walter’s confused becomes that comes before pregnancy.” What I mean to say is she must know how to step gently and lay down smoothly and slowly so as to not crush piglets as described in Lay Lady Lay. There is technique to laying down when you weight 300 to 800 lbs and have a dozen hungry little ones running around your ankles. It’s done slowly, gently, from one end and easing back up if there are objections.
Sows may go without water and food for several days after birthing, just staying right at the nesting site. I make sure it is available but they have reserves. That’s what back fat is for.
After four days or so they will typically move to a new location, leaving behind the scent of farrowing so as to avoid both scavengers and disease. Farrowing or staying in the same location for a long time can lead to a build up bacteria and things like greasy pig syndrome where bacteria can kill piglets.
The look on the sow’s face in the picture above is the good stupor of labor. She’s zoned out. There is no need for farrowing crates or cages. The release of a soup of chemicals during farrowing helps good sows stay calm during the process of birthing. Sows that fail to release these chemicals or lack sufficient receptors tend to be jumpy and won’t make good field sows so they should be culled from a breeding herd to favor sows that can give birth naturally. GOod sows will wean more, larger, healthier piglets without intervention.
Did you notice the piglet in the process of being born?
How many teats do you count?
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