BPEX blog

Monday, 8 December 2014

Why stockmen should be there at farrowing

Being present to monitor farrowing is key to helping the newborn piglet get a good start and reducing piglet mortality rates. Newborn management is an important factor in achieving one extra pig weaned per sow per year, which is one of the key targets BPEX is helping producers with this year.

Newborn piglets are poorly equipped to keep warm immediately after birth as the energy reserves to produce body heat (glycogen stored in the liver) are limited. A combination of factors means that piglets often become chilled: their small size means they lose heat fast, a lack of brown fat means there’s no internal heat source, they have little surface fat and no hair (no insulation) and they’re born wet with birth fluids (further chilling). Piglets are also born with no immunity and can only get this from colostrum soon after birth.

Producers could consider altering routines or rotas to provide cover at farrowing time or discuss with their vet the practicalities of using products to promote farrowing during the daytime, when the stockman can be present.

Colostrum is the ‘first milk’ and an essential source of energy, nutrients and immunity for the piglet.
It is critical for development of the piglets’ own immune system and optimum lifetime performance. Producers should maximise colostrum intake in the first six hours after birth. Beyond 24 hours is too late as the piglets’ intestines can no longer absorb the large antibodies found in colostrum.

Split suckling, assisted suckling and hand feeding colostrum are all options to help ensure colostrum intake.

For more information: 

Watch the BPEX Regional Producer Events presentations on optimising weaned pig quality

View short video clips from the BPEX Practical Pig App