Sunday, March 2, 2014

Visiting a pig farm

      Yesterday the kids and I went to visit a farm with some farrowing pigs. My husbands brother Brad raises show hogs, see his site, and just farrowed out the piglets that will be shown at fairs this summer. The piglets are so cute and active. The kids enjoyed them and we took a lot of picture. Brad not only raises pigs he also works in the pig industry so is a wealth of knowledge. I was raised on a cattle farm so hogs are a bit of an unknown world to me. I had many questions for Brad and learned a lot.

      Q. Why are sows in gestational stalls?
      A. Brad stated that sows are in gestational stalls for the safety of the piglets. Sows are very large animals weighing around 500lbs. A sow many times will have a dozen or more little piglets per a litter. When the sow lays down to nurse her babies she is not careful where she lays. The little piglets need an area where they can safely be without the large mother pig being able to accidentally roll onto them.
         My husband Paul and I witnessed this first hand when we tried farrowing a few sows about 7 years ago. We had just moved onto our farm site and Paul's uncle who works in a pig barn had 3 sows that they didn't have room for. Paul having grown up farrowing pigs thought this would be fun and agreed to take the sows. We have a barn but it is not set up for pigs so Paul set up some free stall pens. It seemed like every day Paul would come in saying how another piglet died because it got crushed by it's huge mother. How sad.
The divider was removed from between two stalls so the piglets can have more room as they get bigger. They will feed from only their mother.
      Q. For how long are the sows kept in the gestational stalls?
      A. Brad informed me that he use to only keep his sows in the crates during the time that they had piglets on them. He found that the pigs were aggressive towards each other pushing to get a food. As a result of the pushing of these animals he was having 1-2 stillborn piglets per a litter. For his last 2 farrowing he has kept the sows in the stalls full time and has had no stillbirths. He also informed me that pigs are not social animals and appear more content when they have their own space. In the stalls the pigs have no worries. They know that they will be fed and have clean water available as needed. They also always have a clean dry place to lay. Brad told me of a study where sows were taught how to back out of a gestational stall. The sows were able to leave the stall whenever they wanted and the study found that 90% of the sows never left the stall and the 10% that did back out of the stall only left the stall 1-2 times though out the time of the study. He also told me that now when he takes the sows out of the stalls during breeding time by the end of the week they are anxious to get back into their stall. It is their home.

        Q. How long are the piglets with the mother before they are weaned and what weight are they at birth and at weaning time.
        A. The piglets at Brads farm are weaned at 3 1/2 weeks and during that time they grow from a birth weight of 2-3 lbs to just under 20lbs.

        I'm glad the kids and I got to see the piglets and sows on Brad's farm. We could tell that the animals are healthy and safe. We know that Brad cares deeply for his animals always wants whats best for them.

This is the guilt that Brad has choosen for the kids to show at the fair this summer.
Check in the begining of Aug to see how big she has grown.
Linked to
Country Fair Blog Party



  1. Thanks so much for sharing on the Country Fair Blog Party! I also like to go visit farms different than ours and learn about how they raise their livestock.

  2. We are engaged in animal husbandry since 1996. Nowadays we have a large farm and a few workers. Some galvanized pails we bought here and it was the best buying for the last time. We breed pigs, cattle, sheep and have plantation of grains. We are happy.