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Preventing piglet crushing with removal and supervise feeding

 
Annie Hope
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Hi,

I am looking at ways to prevent crushing deaths of piglets without using a crush. I have read a lot about various pens, with sloping walls, bars round the walls etc, to give the piglets somewhere to escape, but from the research I have read, they seem to only slightly reduce the death rate from crushing.

I did read this comment on one website though:

" The best way to prevent the piglets being laid on, is by a combination of monitoring and removing the piglets to a heated box when no-one is in attendance, an old tried and trusted method rarely used in today's busy commercial piggeries, but still popular with smallholders. By day five, the piglets are old enough to keep clear of the sow. "

I was wondering if anyone has ever used this method. If so, how often would you feed them, and for how long?

Annie
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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I have not tried the heat-boxes, but they look interesting and seem to work well once the piglets find them.
I have also seen old futon bed frames used to block off a area where piglets can go but mom cannot.

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I raise smaller breed pigs, sows up to 200lbs with piglets the size of soda pop cans at birth.

We are always in attendance at birth, the one time I wasn't we lost a piglet due to crushing. But sometimes, like in the middle of the night, you just can't be there and newborns are not yet as mobile as they will be in a few hours.

I find the best I can do is to create a area where mom will go to easily get away from the piglets once she has given birth to all. I use heat lamps with standard light bulbs for this purpose.
In winter this means two lights, apart from each other, mom ends up under the one that the piglets are not under. Usually closer to the door and her food, piglets end up at the far back of the house.
In spring, this means one light in a corner at the back, mom doesn't want the extra heat and avoids the light area.

Once mom gets up after feeding - the piglets get cold (if not summer time) and will move toward a heat light, place this off to one side and when mom comes back she will have lots of room to flop on the other side before the piglets are on her for another feeding.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Annie Hope wrote:I am looking at ways to prevent crushing deaths of piglets without using a crush.


What I've found is that the best way to prevent piglet crushing is to breed for good sows.

Good sows lay down gently, lift when needed, are attentive, build good nests away in a private spot, defend the nest against other pigs encroaching and don't crush piglets.

Bad sows go to meat.

Mothering is highly genetic. By selectively breeding for sows that can farrow on pasture without intervention we improve our herd genetics. This takes time but is very rewarding. Cull hard. Cull often. Breed the best of the best and eat the rest. Be _very_, _very_ picky.

-Walter
 
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