If you’re new to raising pigs, you must ensure piglets get the care they need to grow into healthy adults. Whether you’re raising pigs for meat or breeding them to sell, healthy animals maximize profits. Here are six things piglets need to thrive.
1. Warmth. Keeping piglets warm is essential for the first few weeks of their lives. Piglets are often born in large litters and instinctively snuggle together to share body heat. It’s important to simulate those conditions. Ensure you have a pen or stall that provides adequate warmth and is free of drafts. Using a heat lamp can also help warm things up.
2. Clean and deep bedding. Provide a deep layer of hay or straw as bedding. Pigs have the instinct to dig and root, so ensure the layer is quite deep. Adequate bedding will help keep the tiny animals warm. Use an absorbent material like wood shavings at the base of the bedding and clean it regularly.
3. Colostrum. Colostrum is the first form of milk produced by the sow following the delivery of a newborn. It’s nutrient-dense and full of essential antibodies, proteins, minerals and enzymes. Feeding piglets colostrum, especially in the early days, increases their survival rates and promotes long-term health. After about three days, newborn piglets must be given milk every 30 to 60 minutes during the day and every four to six hours at night. You can feed them less frequently as they grow.
4. Nutritious food. Piglets are fully weaned by the time they’re four to eight weeks old. Once weaned, you must feed them a varied diet, including corn or soy meal, fruits, vegetables and food scraps, delivered in an appropriate livestock feeder. Pigs are omnivores. Therefore, allowing them to forage freely gives them access to nutritious insects and native plants to supplement their diet.
5. Deworming. Piglets are susceptible to parasites and need regular deworming. Consult a veterinarian about which parasites pose the greatest risk to your animals and devise a deworming regimen.
6. Processing. If you’re raising piglets, you’ll also need to consider processes like castration, docking tails, ear tagging or earmarking, clipping teeth and iron injections. You can administer many of these processes when the piglets are one or two days old. However, weak or underweight piglets should be given 10 to 14 days before processing.
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