I had a member contact me to ask a question that I wasn’t ready for, so I told her that I’d keep her name out of the forum, but wanted to ask…
She has a sow, first litter, that ate all of the piglets. I’ve seen their ranch and where the pigs are housed. She’s on good pasture, feed, etc… There was another sow that also ate several of her piglets, so it’s not just one animal.
I wonder if it could be learned behavior? Personally, I’d give them another chance. Put them in the adjacent pasture next to a good sow and let her see a good mom, get used to the noises, movement of new babies. If after that she still eats them, cull. I wouldn’t think vitamin deficiency, most commercial feed has the proper nutrition.
Thanks for the input. After doing some additional research on hog behavior, universities and pig farmers seem to suggest that stress plays a major part, especially in the two hours or so after giving birth. One university site mentioned “pig fever” which was a misnomer since pigs temperature actually goes down, in most cases, during delivery. Their research, for future reference, was to do the following: 1. If a pen is going to be used, move the sow into the pen at 110 days, or earlier, so she can get used to her environment. 2. If she has a history of cannibalism, try removing the piglets for about two hours after delivery of the last piglet. It gives her the opportunity to calm down. 3. Don’t switch her feed. 4. If it is a new sow, i.e. first delivery, as mentioned above, try and allow her to watch another “experienced” sow give birth and care for her piglets. 5. If it happens twice, cull. 5. Make sure she doesn’t have mastitis, if so, remove the blockage. A sure sign of mastitis is that the whites of their eyes will be brick red. Antibiotics are necessary, or you could lose your sow. A three day regiment is required, plus making certain that the blocked milk ducts remain open.
So, that’s what I learned. Hope it may help someone in the future.
We had some GOS do this this past winter – have no idea why except that there were several pigs together. With the LB’s here we have NEVER had that problem so for the next GOS farrowings, we separated the gilts out each into their own area which seemed to help. We will see how they do in the future.