Consideration should be given at this time, for treating the sow for external parasites and therefore worming her a week before she gives birth to avoid placenta crossover of womb infestation.
It is also a good idea to vaccinate against Erysipelas three weeks before farrowing and if the mother has never been vaccinated before she will need one injection six weeks prior to farrowing and a booster three weeks later.
Always speak to your vet for advice on your medication/vaccination programme.
Embryos are not embedded until day nine of gestation and at that stage they can migrate from one horn (side of the uterus) to another, so if all embryos are lost in one horn they can migrate from the other one.
As long as there are four embryos in place, and both horns are occupied, pregnancy continues beyond ten days, otherwise it appears to be terminated. After twelve days the number of embryos may be reduced to as few as one and the pregnancy will still continue.
Litters of four or less are suggestive of embryonic death between twelve and thirty days of gestation.
The first suckle of milk from the sow/gilt is vital as it contains colostrum which helps give them energy, warmth and early immunity to various infections with the highest level of immunity present in the first twenty four hours.
Although the colostrum starts declining rapidly about six hours after farrowing commences, so does the piglets response to it.
A few days before birth monitor the food as if overfed the sow can become constipated and her gut distended. This can result in constriction of the reproductive tract, giving problems to farrowing.
Watch out for scouring (diarrhoea) as this can lead to dehydration, which can make the milk production more difficult.
Feed a little less over the three days before the birth, being careful not to totally alter the feeding routine. Exercise also prevents them from becoming too heavy and grass is a source of roughage. It is true that there is little nutrients in grass but it is an aid to their wellbeing.
A pig’s gestation period is one hundred and sixteen days from the day they are serviced. A few days either side is nothing to worry about however if a week has passed it would be advisable to have her scanned.
The OSBPG Charity Pregnancy Scanner may be of use to you should you wish to confirm that your sow/gilt is in-pig.
The farrowing pen should be cleaned and disinfected at least a week before the sow is brought in. With a little bedding, not too much as piglets so often like to burrow in the straw and can get lost, trampled by the mother or at worse suffocate.
This month more than any other month is popular for farrowings.
Can we be prepared, what can we do to make sure that we have everything to hand. The answer is different for all of us and every farrowing is different. Although we can be prepared with the most common question, which is about milk.
Volac Faramate is a sow replacement that is specifically made for piglets. For an emergency you can use goats milk. (We have discussed the values of the various types of milk on the OSBPG Charity Facebook Forum)
Did you know, that within the pig field, notifiable diseases are those infectious diseases, generally not present within the national population on a day-to-day basis, which either national or EU authorities regard as undesirable for a range of reasons such as animal health and welfare, the macroeconomic position, national and international trade or human health.
Should they arise or be suspected, then they must be notified to the APHA – the animal health division of DEFRA – whereupon restrictions will be placed on the holding and possibly wider afield, with a view to controlling or eradicating the disease.
Export of animals and food produced from them is restricted. The major pig diseases that fall into this requirement are listed below, but the authorities have the right under the Animal Health Act 1981 to add diseases to this list – as indeed was done temporarily in 1991 with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS or Blue Eared Pig Disease).