AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
HANDLING THE SOW AT FARROWING
KENNETH L. DURRANCE
Assistant Animal Husbandman
About 40 percent of all pigs farrowed die before reaching
market weight. A large percentage of this appalling death rate
takes place during farrowing time and the first week after far-
Recommendations given below, if practiced, will help keep
these death losses to a minimum. However, there is no substi-
tute for the proper feeding of herd replacements up to breeding
age and feeding the sow a well balanced ration during the gesta-
tion period. Both of these practices are vital to the production
of large litters and strong, healthy pigs that will have the ability
to survive at farrowing time.
Breeding Records.-Every farmer should keep breeding
records on his sows. Knowing when a sow is due to farrow is
absolutely essential if she is to be managed properly during the
farrowing season. The best idea is to keep sows and the boar
separate, using the practice of hand mating the sows as they
come in heat.
Clean Farrowing Pens Thoroughly. All farrowing pens
should be thoroughly cleaned before the sow is brought in.
This is absolutely necessary because a large number of baby
pig ills can be traced to unsanitary farrowing houses. The far-
rowing pen or stall should be thoroughly cleaned by scrubbing
with boiling water mixed with lye. Dissolve 1 can of lye in 20
gallons of water.
The farrowing pen should be cleaned this way each time a
sow and her litter are moved to pasture and a new sow is brought
in to farrow.
Bring Sow to Farrowing Pen Three or Four Days Before
Farrowing.-In order to acquaint the sow with her new surround-
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director
ings, she should be brought to the farrowing house at least three
days before farrowing time. Thoroughly wash the underline
and sides of the sow with soap and water before she is placed
in the house. Use a stiff brush for this job to remove all dirt
particles sticking to her.
Fig. 1.-Thoroughly scrub the farrowing pens or stalls with lye and water.
Use stiff brush with a long handle.
This scrubbing is important because worm eggs and other
filth are removed from the underline and sides of the sow.
Reduce Ration Prior to Farrowing.-After the sow has been
brought to the farrowing house, make two changes in her ration.
Make the ration bulky by substituting either ground oats or
wheat bran for at least a third of the regular ration. Reduce the
Do not feed the sow for 12 hours before farrowing. If you
watch her closely you can determine the approximate time of
farrowing. Allow the sow access to all the fresh water she will
Farrowing Time.-An attendant should be on hand when the
sow farrows. Many pigs that would otherwise be lost can be
saved if someone is on hand to assist.
The farrowing pen or stall should be bedded down with a
small amount of dry wood shavings. Too much bedding is
worse than none.
During cold weather provide a heat lamp in one corner of
the farrowing pen or stall. As soon as the pigs have been wiped
Fig. 2.-Thoroughly clean the sides and under line of the sow with soap
and water when she is brought to the farrowing pen or stall. Use a stiff
brush when washing the sow.
'~r~L~ .. CC
dry and have nursed, place them under the heat lamp. Heat
lamps will pay for themselves many times by preventing chilling
right after birth. Chilling accounts for a big part of death
losses in young pigs.
Fig. 3.-Distribute the bedding evenly over the entire farrowing pen or
stall. Wood shavings are excellent bedding material.
If the navel cord is exceptionally long, trim it close to the
pig's belly. Apply iodine to the navel of new-born pigs to pre-
vent infection. Young pigs may get swollen joints if this anti-
septic is not applied.
Pigs are born with eight needle teeth. Remove these shortly
after birth so they don't hurt the sow's udder or the little pigs
Fig. 4.-These are items you should use at farrowing time: A rag for
cleaning the new-born pig, wire clippers to remove needle teeth, ear notch-
ers for marking, iodine to disinfect the navel cord, and a good screwworm
remedy for application to the navel after the iodine has been applied.
Feeding the Sow Immediately After Farrowing.-Do not feed
the sow for 24 hours after farrowing. However, let her have
all the fresh water she wants. Feed her the same bulky ration
she was on before farrowing for a few days after farrowing.
Increase the sow's ration gradually, taking from 7 to 10 days
to get her on full feed. The first few feedings after farrowing
can be fed either as dry feed or a slop.
If the sow's ration is increased too rapidly after farrowing,
the pigs are apt to scour. When scours occur reduce the sow's
ration. If scouring persists for several days after the ration
has been reduced, check with your veterinarian. Clean surround-
ings, good management, and correct feeding of the sow will
usually prevent scours.
Ear-Notching Pigs.-All purebred pigs should be ear-notched
a day or two after birth. The purebred swine associations re-
quire it. Ear-notching of young pigs is done in commercial herds
to aid in selecting herd replacements and to check weight gains.