Monitoring farrowing and piglet behaviour

Newborn piglets are poorly equipped to keep warm immediately after birth and therefore require appropriate monitoring.

Back to Indoor farrowing environment

Being present at farrowing is a critical part of good farrowing house management. If not possible on your unit, ask yourself why not? Consider altering routines or rotas to provide cover at this crucial time or discuss with your vet the practicalities of using products to promote farrowing during the daytime, when you can be present.

You can find case studies and resources about monitoring farrowing on the EUPiG website, including checklists and protocols to support farrowing observations.

Reducing pig mortality through a high standard of care

Observe piglet behaviour

  • Look out for fading piglets and take remedial action by fostering and providing electrolytes or additional milk
  • Check for signs of ill health, and treat according to unit veterinary protocol
  • Ensure piglets are lying either on or under the heat source and not piling together, indicating chilling.

Night checks

Routine inspections should be carried at night during farrowing week. On farrowing days, reduce the amount of unsupervised time between regular staff starting and finishing.

Supervision of sows and piglets at farrowing and supporting colostrum intake, lead to:

  • Increased numbers born alive
  • Reduced pre-weaning mortality
  • Increased viability
  • Increased weaning weights average
  • Stronger piglets weaned
  • Lower rearing mortality
  • Less weight variation among piglets at rearing
  • Increased pigs/sow/year

Key to success

  • By being there at the right time, it is possible to intervene early, limiting the risk of piglet suffocation during birth, and reducing crushing
  • Spend time hand-feeding colostrum to the weaker piglets. Move smaller piglets onto gilts once they’ve had time to suckle
  • See EUPiG farrowing checklist – Guidance based on research from Wageningen University (Pig Vitality)