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Pig breeding and farrowing

One of the most important aspects of pig production is getting young piglets off to a good start. For this reason it is essential that the management and stockmanship of a farm is maintained at the highest possible standards. The pictures below illustrate some of the critical operations required to achieve this.


young pigletsThe young piglets shortly after birth need to be kept at a temperature close to 30 degrees centigrade and are kept warm under an infra red lamp. Bedding also helps to keep them warm and create their own microenvironment. Notice how the piglets huddle together, this is a natural form of behaviour.


piglets at feeding timeFeeding time. The crate that the mother pig (sow) lives in for the first few weeks of the piglets' life prevents the sow rolling over and crushing the young piglets to death. For the first two or three days piglets are vulnerable as they weigh just over a kilo compared with the sow at 250 kg.


young piglets on the teatYoung piglets at feeding time. After the first two days of life, piglets have their own teatlet that they suckle from. A good sow will have 14 functional teats. Milk yield tends to be higher at the front of the udder compared with the back. Piglets are normally weaned at around 4 weeks of age which is an optimum time for both the welfare of the sow and the piglets.


mating timeAfter weaning the sow dries off. Sows normally come on heat (exhibit oestrous) within a week. They are then mated either naturally with a boar or with artificial insemination (AI) or with a combination of both.


ultrasonicsAt feeding time sows can either collect feed automatically from a feeder or they can be fed on an individual basis as in the picture. The individual feeder allows the sow to eat without interference and stress from her pen mates and provides the farmer with a good opportunity to check her health. The farmer may also check whether the sows are pregant using the ultrasonic microphone illustrated.


pregnancy testingPregnancy testing; positive readings can be obtained from 28 days after mating.








Statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat


Pigs and Pigmeat 
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total marketing pigs
(000s)
12381 10567 10282 9051 8679 8777 8731 9075 8994 8557 n/a
Pigs value of production
(£ millions)
822 738 689 686 681 677 685 736 865 976 984
Pork - home fed as % new supply
(%)
92 73 74 71 73 70 68 69
Bacon & Ham - home fed as % new supply
(%)
45 43 43 43 42 44 45 42
Pig meat - home fed as % new supply
(%)
49 48 48 49 52 50 53





June Census statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat


Pigs and Pigmeat
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
Sows kept for pig breeding
(Numbers)
279,782 281,237 262,516 283,458 366,302 291,441 536,009 727,612 685,721 646,887 502,697
Other pigs
(Numbers)
1,741,640 1,739,082 1,551,861 1,820,841 2,789,117 1,804,846 3,603,377 5,439,294 5,792,473 5,661,437 4,939,771
Total pigs
(Numbers)
2,021,422 2,020,319 1,814,377 2,104,299 3,155,419 2,096,287 4,139,386 6,166,926 6,476,211 6,308,324 5,442,468