Lost Piglets-How to Prevent
November 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm #16326Member: TX
A sweet and sour day here. Yesterday one of my Sows gave birth, she was showing she was ready and I was ready. A strange thing though, she gave birth to 2 piglets and then moved and had the other 3, I was able to get the first 2 warmed up and started sucking, all survived and were looking good last night. This AM my second sow was way in the back of the pasture which was different. Now she definitely did not have clear signs that she was ready, like Sow # 1. I went to her and she had also gave birth at one place and moved to a second location, I was to late to save the single piglet from the first nest, at the second nest there were 5 alive and 2 dead, one with slippers and one without, maybe Momma stepped on him. After clearing the nest of the dead and afterbirth, I went to check on my first 5 from yesterday. Three were dead, two obviously crushed under Momma and no obvious reason seen on the other little one. I am using port-a-huts and had them prepared with “privacy” fences ready to close when the moment came. The first Sow actually used both shelters and settled in the second one. I had cleaned the first one she used and removed the spoiled hay. The second sow elected to birth in the pasture, actually within the okra patch. What have I done wrong and what can I do to prevent such a tragedy? Thanks for any help.November 9, 2010 at 10:00 am #17113Member: MO
OH NO! I am so sorry to hear this BUT have to say, it’s part of the job. Gilts are very unpredictable in their mothering. Just like us as first time mothers, they are not sure what to expect or exactly what to do. PLEASE be reassured it is NOT your fault. Letting the pigs have their babies where they want to is great IMO – we do that all the time here & yes we lose some too. There could well have been something wrong with the piglets that died. The mamas instinctively know this & will abandon them.
What can you do? Enjoy the piglets you have left, don’t give up & let them try again once their piglets are weaned. I’m sure the second time around they will be much more confident.
Liz – MissouriNovember 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm #17118Member: OH
Darren Felicia KrockParticipant
Also, animals sometimes “know” if their git will not be viable and choose to abandon them or kill them in order to give more to those that they “know” will survive. I have had kittens born slightly deformed and the mother would kill it even though it would have lived. Horses do this as well. I have had to bottle feed a number of foals that the mother would have killed, only to learn that later in life they were “just not right”.November 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm #17119
Sorry about your loss. Liz is correct about new moms,give them time and try not to judge them by their first litter. My prom queen prudence abandoned two litters before she aquired the ability to nurture. We tried it all, even those crazy farrowing crates for a couple of days, another five hundred dollars wasted. I have now found that allowing them to nest naturally away from the herd is safer and seems to be easier on the sow. Easier on the sow but harder on you because she will need a temporary shelter and plenty of water and feed so she doesn’t have to leave her piglets too much. She will bring the piglets into the herd when they are about a week old. The herd now learns about the piglets and the gilts seem to develope their mothering ability quicker. If there is another lactating sow available you might get lucky enough to have her accept the orfans, if not we tend to loose them. I have noticed a definite face of regrete and sorrow on the sow that have awakened to find their piglets overlayed. Hang in there, Mark.November 14, 2010 at 10:14 am #17123Member: MO
Well let me share with you the bizarre happenings here yesterday. For the last few weeks, Mildred’s piglets (3) from her May litter have been gradually wearing our patience very thin. I love all our pigs BUT do expect them to respect fences & us etc. Well these little monkeys respected NO fence – they were digging up the yard, making a right mess & starting to terrorize the dogs & stealing their food. PLUS one day earlier this week they came up to where I was milking the cow. Once they smell milk there is no stopping them. I had had ENOUGH!
So it was time to put them in the freezer. I had managed to shut them in a “cubicle” in the barn the night before & no one was allowed down to the barn yesterday morning so all would stay calm. Normally when we head to the barn they start hollering, causing a real ruckus & setting everyone else off. SO we all crept to the barn & once Richard had done the deed of shooting them I went in to start helping him do the butchering part. We decided to shoot them one right after the other so that there was no stress on them.
As I walked into the barn up to where Richard was I turned around & saw three little Large Black piglets huddled in the corner. I was completely taken aback as they were in the walkway away from all the other pigs. I was like, “Where did you come from?” Looking around we found 3 more. Who was the mama? (Not a strange question as we have three LB’s due here this week) There was not a pig in the barn so out I headed to solve the mystery & lo & behold it was Mildred. She was actually due today so no real surprise but the surprise was that she had abandoned her babies. Of course we had just shot the other three pigs so had to get on & quickly skin & gut. We put the 6 piglets in a safe place & got on with the other job in hand. Those poor piglets were cold & squealing and in amongst all this visitors came to look at pigs. What timing! There we are with guts hanging out of one pig & 6 abandoned babies.
We finally got Mildred into the barn & shut in but she was not interested in her babies at all! What to do? We gave her food – the poor babies were squealing & going as they were cold & hungry but if they got too close she just threw them out the way – literally lifting them up & throwing them against the side of the barn. OUCH! To say I was threatening her with being made into sausage was an understatement.
Realizing that shutting her in was not going to work I let her out again. Thankfully it was a warm sunny day so we put the babies in the sun. You’re probably asking why we didn’t take the piglets, put them under a heat lamp & feed them. Well that thought did cross our minds but a) we were extremely busy with the butchering b) we have still not unpacked all our boxes in the barn so had no idea where a heat lamp was & c) had no food for them. Also thinking that if they had had no colostrum their chances of survival were very thin anyways. Although we have tried to rescue piglets in the past, like Mark said above, it is rarely successful – we have never had one survive so honestly didn’t think it was worth the time. money & effort.
That afternoon we had to go pick up hay so by the time we got home it was dark. Richard went down to check on the piglets not really expecting to see any still alive. Well those little piglets were savvy & despite being very hungry had cuddled into other pigs to keep warm. Richard found 3 & gave them to Mildred. They immediately started suckling. Then he found a dead one & his heart sank BUT it was one we had not seen before – had obviously died before we got out there yesterday morning & we just had not seen it – it was well hidden. SO where were the other 3? He finally found them cuddled up between the GOS (Gloucestershire Old Spots) all lovely & warm. They got given to mama & starting eating.
Went down to the barn this morning with some trepidation. Now the sun was up would Mildred reject them again? Surprise! Mildred spent all day with her 6 babies today – they are doing really well.
What caused this problem? Don’t really know. Mildred was an excellent mother last time but I had separated her. This time she is in with 2 other gilts that are due this week also & then two other gilts who just happen to be with her. Was that the reason? I guess we’ll never know but sure glad she turned around & started mothering them!
LOL! You just can never tell what is going to happen with animals around 🙂