1Moody et al., Journal of Animal Science 25(1966):1250. Nursing pigs under 2.0 pounds orally dosed once or twice daily from the day born to 7 days with 15 milliliters reconstituted milk replacers, 3.2 water: solids ratio.
Management during lactation
Baby pig scours
Baby pig scours are major ongoing problems for swine producers. Most common diarrheas are caused by various strains of Escherichia coli, a gram-negative bacteria common to the intestinal tract of all mammals. The symptom of E. coli-induced diarrhea is a watery, yellowish stool. Pigs are most susceptible from 1 to 4 days of age, at 3 weeks of age and at weaning.
Although pigs are born with little disease resistance, this resistance increases as they absorb antibodies from their mothers' colostrum. Because pigs' ability to absorb antibodies decreases rapidly from birth, it becomes important that they feed on colostrum soon after birth. Colostrum provides the only natural disease protection they will have until their own mechanism for antibody production begins to function effectively at 4 to 5 weeks. Disease resistance is lowest at 3 weeks. It is wise to avoid unnecessary stress (castration, vaccination, worming) at this time.
In treating common scours, orally administered drugs are usually more effective than injections. You should use a drug effective against the bacterial strain on your farm.
A dry, warm, draft-free environment is of primary importance in reducing scours. Sanitation is also very important in reducing the incidence of baby pig scours.
Other diseases such as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) and swine dysentery may cause more serious diarrhea problems. Contact your local veterinarian if diarrhea persists or does not respond to treatment.
Boar pigs can be castrated any time before they are 4 weeks old. There is less shock on them at an early age and many producers do this chore the first week.
In addition to sows' milk, pigs need a creep feed to make maximum gain through weaning. Provide a fresh creep feed at one week of age in a place where pigs can get away from the sow.
A creep ration should be high-quality, complete mixed feed that is eaten readily. Good creep rations can be purchased or mixed on the farm. When creep rations are formulated and mixed on the farm, take particular care to use a high-energy palatable mixture that meets the pig's nutrient needs.
Getting pigs to eat adequate amounts of a creep ration is often a problem. Place the creep feeder in a warm, dry, well-lighted area. Feed small amounts, and feed frequently to keep the ration fresh. Sprinkling feed on the floor or placing it in a shallow pan may help pigs start to eat. Pelleted feeds are usually eaten more readily than meal.
Where good management is practiced, pigs are consistently weaned successfully when three to six weeks old in Missouri. Time of weaning depends somewhat on care, facilities and production schedules. Weaning under five weeks of age requires more skill and attention. Warm, dry facilities free from draft are essential.
Pigs weighing 15 pounds or more generally can be weaned successfully regardless of age if they are eating well. It is extremely important to have a dry, heated, well-ventilated, well-insulated house available for pigs weaned early, particularly in bad weather.
Don't start pigs in large groups. Small groups of 20 to 25 head per pen do best. Allow 3 to 4 square feet of space for each pig. Sort pigs according to size and weight.
Monitor your parasite problems by analysis of worm eggs in manure and slaughter checks. Some confinement units have minimal problems with internal parasites. Several good products are available. Recommendations for parasite control are subject to change. Check carefully to see that all products used are current and that limitations on time of use prior to slaughter is observed.
Sow feeding pointers
Good nutrition is important for lactating sows. A 15 percent protein high-energy ration containing adequate vitamins and minerals is recommended. Reduce intake of sows immediately prior to farrowing, or add bulk with one part bran or ground oats to two parts lactation ration to reduce problems with constipation at farrowing.
After farrowing, gradually increase the ration so that the sow is on full feed by seven to ten days after farrowing if she has had at least eight pigs in the litter. Feed a high-energy diet during lactation to support milk production.
Heavy milk producing sows have difficulty eating enough feed to maintain their condition. More frequent feeding, pelleting and adding fat are techniques to increase energy intake.
- Have sows and facilities prepared for farrowing.
- Be present at farrowing, if possible.
- Keep pigs warm and dry.
- Process pigs early (navels, teeth, tails, castration).
- Prevent anemia with iron shots.
- Prevent scours.
- Minimize stress at weaning.
- Control parasites.
- Check sows' nutrition.