We’re about 10 days out from having our two gilts farrow and I just want to make sure I’ve got my bases covered (with the closest farm supply store being 50+ miles away, I hate nasty surprises). I’ve raised a lot of weaners, but, never farrowed any so please bear with me while I ask some “well, duh!” rookie questions just to make sure I’m headed off in the right direction.
Farrowing pens: I’ve got the new farrowing pens built (8’X5′ for each gilt with a 4’x5′ piglet “box” with heat lamps divided off with a crawlspace access for each litter. Is this large enough for the relatively short time they’re going to be confined? (I’m assuming 2-3 weeks before I can re-introduce with the boar and gang out in the pasture without worrying about the “squash factor”) Or, should I expand them while I’ve got time? If so, what dimensions should I be looking for?
Ear notching: What age do you all recommend? The information I’ve found on the internet is about enough to drive a person insane, there’s just too much conflicting information out there that doesn’t necessarily pertain to our breed.
Castrating: Same question as the ear notching. I’ve seen it done with the mass production pigs anywhere from as soon as they’re dry to 3 months old. I was figuring around 10-14 days, hoping that would give me enough time to roll the dice on deciding which (if any) of the little boars could be held out as breeding stock.
Prefarrowing behavior: The girls are already trying to distance themselves from the boar (they seem perfectly fine with each other though). I’m kind of curious as to how soon before they farrow they start doing this and how long before the expected due date should I separate ’em out into their farrowing pens, are there any other warning signs of imminent farrowing I should keep my eye out for?
Iron shots: Anyone do these anymore? The piglets will be on clover/timothy hay bed and the floor of my barn is soil/river rock so I don’t know if they’ll get enough off the ground/gilt or if I should play it safe and give ’em a dose at 3 days old.
If you have any other suggestions please let me know, I’m here to learn.