Indoor farrowing environment
It is important to monitor your farrowing house at all times to ensure the best productivity of your pig unit. Use this information to maximise the potential of piglets and sows.
Why the farrowing house is so important
It is critical to limit heat loss from piglets after birth because they:
- are born wet
- have a large surface area to body mass
- have limited energy reserves (brown fat) to produce body heat
- do not have hair for insulation
If a newborn piglet's temperature does not steadily increase back to normal, it will become lethargic, less competitive and more prone to starvation, disease and death.
Make sure the farrowing environment is dry, warm and draught-free
Should I upgrade my farrowing accommodation?
Upgrading farrowing accommodation could improve performance, sow and piglet welfare and reduce the time and labour required to run the department.
By installing new farrowing crates and fine-tuning them for optimum performance, a return on investment could be achieved in less than four years.
The benefits of upgrading accomodation include:
- Reduced pre- and post-weaning mortality, including overlays
- Improved weaning weight
- Less time required to feed and clean each day
- Reduced use of power and water
- Increased crate numbers
- Increased pigs/sow/year
Use the information on the pages below to make sure your indoor farrowing environment meets the needs of sows and their newborn piglets.
Keeping piglets healthy
To create a healthy indoor farrowing environment for newborns, attention to detail is key. Use this information to help piglets thrive.
Piglets are born with little energy and very few protecting antibodies. They therefore rely on colostrum from the sow immediately after birth for energy and defence against bacteria and viruses. Find out how to manage colostrum intake and optimise production.
How to improve suckling
Suckling is important for increasing the body temperature of newborn piglets. Use this information to keep sows calm and relaxed while piglets need to feed.
Body condition in sows
It is important to minimise loss of sow condition in the farrowing house. Use this information to meet temperature requirements that encourage good voluntary feed intake (VFI).
How to prepare the farrowing crate
Providing the right conditions in the farrowing house helps minimise mortality, maximise piglet growth rate and maintain the sow in good condition for the next cycle. A well-prepared and organised farrowing room will make your role easier and more productive.
Monitoring farrowing and piglet behaviour
Being present at farrowing is a critical part of good farrowing house management. If not possible on your unit, ask yourself why not?
Wherever possible, leave piglets with their mothers to avoid disruption of the litter suckling patterns. If fostering is necessary, use our guidance to make it as successful as possible.
Piglets have different temperature needs (thermal requirements) from sows; the creep area provides the right temperature environment for the piglets and training them to use this area will provide them with a good start in life.
Alternative and free farrowing options
Many alternative farrowing systems have been developed over the last decade. Here, we provide details about some of these options and signpost to further resources.