I have 4 piglets that are 5 weeks old this week and their mamma seems to be losing more weight than what I think she should. I have the piglets eating non gmo feed and they have been eating their feed that past couple of days. I’m not sure when I need to wean them from her. Any suggestions? Also would like to know if there are other producers doing the non-gmo feed with their hogs and what minerals should I be giving my hogs. This is my first time with hogs and not many people in my area know anything about the Large Blacks.
It is interesting, a sow goes along nursing pigs, seems to be in adequate condition, then one day you look at her and wonder why she is getting so thin. Contrary to some people’s practices, I have found that a sow nursing pigs needs all the feed she will eat, up to 12 to 15 pounds per day. Research shows that a sow will produce up to 2 gallons of milk per day at 7-8% butterfat. It takes a lot out of a sow to do this, so she needs lots to eat. The number of pigs she is nursing also affect her condition. To meet her needs she should be fed a well balanced 16% ground feed ration, corn or barley as the main grain for energy, a protein source, and a premix for added vitamins and minerals. Your local feed supplier should be able to balance a ration for energy, protein, and premix. Unfortunately most have little experience and knowledge for pasture based operations. But, the nutrition requirements are pretty much the same however sows are raised and housed. I found my Large Black sows to be very heavy milkers, so nutrition is very important. Pasture or forage is not enough nutrition, but it is nice if available for fiber for the sow.
I have also found it may be better to wean the pigs from these heavy milking sows by 5 weeks of age, especially if the pigs are eating dry feed. Otherwise, if the sow gets too thin it affects her long term health and productivity, in addition to not breeding back and resulting litter size. You do not want a sow too fat when she farrows, but if she is too thin, she is fighting a losing battle trying to maintain body condition while nursing pigs.
There could also be some other factors involved, such as an infection in the sow (rare), the need to deworm (best done before farrowing then again when weaned), hot weather, water, etc. On a side note, we also need to select for pigs and sows that have big appetites, so the sows eat the feed needed to support their pigs. The sows that wean off the bigger, more uniform pigs for me, eat more feed. If you have more questions please let me know.
Harvey at Carlena Farms.