After approximately 116 days of pregnancy sows farrow their litter under the close supervision of stockpeople.
    • Farrowing crates are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
    • Farrowing huts in outdoor systems are on clean ground and are stocked with clean dry straw
    • Heat lamps/mats are in working order
    • Farrowing area is dry and warm
    • Feed is ready to be delivered
    • Drinkers and troughs are clean and operational
    • Equipment needed during farrowing has been re-stocked
  • Although farrowing huts allows the sow to move around freely, it does not provide the level of protection to the piglet as what a farrowing crate does. Typically, pre-weaning mortality in farrrowing huts is two – three times that seen with farrowing crates.
  • Sows are moved into the farrowing area a few days before their due date to allow them time to settle into their new environment. Stockpeople monitor sows very closely during this stage and assist during farrowing if a sow is having difficulties.
  • Piglets are very vulnerable directly after birth as their immune system is poorly developed and they have limited ability to control their body temperature. Stockpeople therefore take great care in ensuring piglets are kept free of disease, are receiving enough milk and are being kept warm.
  • Piglets require a thermal environment between 28-32 ºC while the sow prefers a range of 18-22 ºC. This is managed in the farrowing area by maintaining sheds to meet the sows’ needs and providing piglets with a creep area with heat lamps and heat pads. On the free range unit, piglets are farrowed in huts with straw where they can burrow and keep warm.

  • A number of husbandry procedures are carried out during the first few days of a piglet’s life. Pigs are susceptible to tail biting from their pen mates so the tips of their tails are removed as a preventative measure. Pigs are born with low iron levels, hence artificial iron is administered at birth.