Family Farm

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Dublin ZooAgri Aware

Learn All About Pig Farming

Look at the life of pigs on the farm. Watch and learn about the varied diet of pigs to their habitats.

Pregnant Sows and Newborn Piglet

As pregnant sows prepare for birth, the farmer must watch her very closely to ensure that she and her piglets are safe. A sow will normally have about 12 piglets but sometimes she can have more! Good hygiene helps to prevent sickness. So the farmer cleans and disinfects the farrowing shed before the sow moves in. Pregnant sows are kept comfortable in the farrowing shed and are not disturbed by other pigs on the farm. As soon as new piglets are born, they will walk over to one of the teats on their mother's stomach and start drinking milk. Piglets need to be kept warm so a heat lamp is put into the farrowing shed.

General Pig Maintenance and Welfare

Pigs are very clean animals but the farmer must still muck out their sheds regularly. A clean shed means good hygiene levels. So there is less risk of ill health and sickness amongst the pigs. Farmers feed their pig's special meal, made mostly from cereals (not the breakfast kind). High quality healthy food means healthy pigs. The amount of food a pig gets depends on their age and size. A farmer can tell if a pig is happy and healthy or sad and ill, simply by inspecting them. A happy, healthy pig will be sociable with other pigs and will race to the trough at meal times.

Growing Pigs

Newborn piglets drink milk from the sow. After three weeks, the farmer will put special piglet meal in a creep area (so the sow cannot eat it). At about 28 and 33 days old, piglets can fend for themselves and are weaned from the sow and moved to a clean, dry weaner shed. After weaning, pigs are fed meal twice a day by the farmer. The farmer chooses some pigs as replacement stock for breeding. This means they will have piglets in the future. The rest are sold when they are six months old. The pigs that the farmer chooses will grow and grow. Usually they will have their first litter of piglets when they are about 12 months old.