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Welcome to the first farmingfriends pig related newsletter. Thanks for signing up and I hope you enjoy reading this email.

Livestock Tips
One of the questions related to pigs that I am regularly asked  is "What are the signs to look for when a sow or gilt is about to farrow?"

When farrowing is imminent there are a number of signs to look out for.

  • Restlessness. The sow / gilt will pace up and down or circle round and round.
  • Nesting. The sow / gilt will pull all the bedding material into one area and create a nest. They do this by carrying the bedding in their mouths and moving the straw with their feet. This usually occurs on the day of farrowing.
  • The size and shape of the stomach will increase before farrowing. I try to get into the habit of feeling the sow’s stomach when I feed them so that I am aware of any changes in size and so that the sows get used to me touching this area.
  • The size of the mammary glands will increase as they bag up with milk.
  • Milk production. Just before farrowing the sow or gilts milk will be released.
  • The vulva becomes larger and reddens. The muscles around this area slacken before farrowing takes place. This is not always easy to see to the untrained eye but once your gilt and sow has farrowed once or twice it is easier to identify. It’s amazing how often a pig breeder spends looking at the animals bottom!
  • Laying down and stretching out the back legs will occur as farrowing begins. This is not always the case as some gilts and sows will stand to farrow. My saddleback sow Lacy did this when she was a gilt and had her first litter.
  • Heavy breathing. As farrowing begins the gilt or sow will start to blow and puff as she strains. Click on this link to see a youtube video clip of Lacy the Saddleback sow and hear her breathing just minutes before farrowing.
Pig Related Forum Chat
When is the best time to wean piglets or can they be weaned naturally? Piglets are generally weaned from about 8 weeks if they are not commercial pigs but they can be weaned naturally by the sow up to 12 weeks of age. Things to consider are piglets feeding habits as a quick change in diet can lead to scours, the number of piglets and whether they have had their teeth clipped, the condition of the sow, her teats and the amount of milk she is producing, the age of the piglets as weaning can cause stress, where to locate the sows upon weaning and when you want the next litter. Click on the title question for more information relating to this forum question.

Runt of litter growing slowly advice needed. A runt of the litter may need to be hand reared or they may need their food supplemented if they are not getting enough milk from the sow. A good tip at weaning time is to leave the runt with the sow as this will help to stop the sow from getting mastitis and also help the runt to grow more quickly as they won't be competing with the other piglets for milk or creep feed. Click on the title question for more information relating to this forum question.

Hand Rearing Piglets Bottle feeding can take place every four hours, although in the first 24 hours they will do better if fed every two to three hours. Piglets can be fed sow milk powder, sow’s milk or baby milk. Make sure the milk is at blood temperature and start with about 10-20ml and then build up to 75-100ml by which time you will only be feeding the piglets 3 or 4 times a day. Click on the title question for more information relating to this forum question.

That's all folks.

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Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

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News From The Farm
I have been keeping and breeding pedigree Saddleback pigs for two years.
Saddleback Gilts
My two Saddleback pigs, Cagney and Lacy have produced four litters each and many of the weaners were sold to smallholders for breeding. I was delighted when I received an email last week letting me know that three of the gilts have just had a litter of piglets.
Hand Reared Saddleback Runt Of Litter
I also received a phone call last night enquiring if I had any Saddleback weaners from a repeat customer, who last time bought my runt of the litter who I hand reared as he had splayed legs due to Lacy trying to snaffle him. I enquired about "Splays" and was delighted to hear that they named him Geoffrey and although he grew slower than the others he has grown into a lovely pig.

Popular & Useful Pig Posts
Breeding Gilts

Signs Of A Gilt Or Sow About to Farrow
Preparing For A Farrowing Sow
Weaning Piglets
Pig Fencing

Breeds Of Pigs

Excellent Book For The Beginner
Starting With Pigs by Andy Case
Starting With Pigs by Andy Case £7.95+P&P 
A straight forward and readable book for the small scale pig keeper, this is an excellent and practical introduction that is also up-to-date with the relevant regulations. Concentrating on the older, more traditional breeds, it covers housing and free-range management, feeding, breeding and rearing, buying and selling.

Pigs For Sale or Wanted If you are looking to buy or sell pigs then check out the Farmers Market on the farmingfriends forum or email me if you want to know more about any of the pigs for sale or you have pigs to sell.

Farming Friends Pig Forum
If you want to chat with other pig enthusiasts or ask a question related to pig keeping or breeding then visit the
Farming Friends Pig Forum

Questions & Photos
If you have a question about pigs or photos you'd like to share then you can email them to

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