Pigs have been an integral part of many farming operations for years. To ensure a good pig production, a lot of measures for swine production with any scale should be implemented to manage a healthy pig farming.
Improve the Necessary Facilities for Pig Farming
In most cases, pig producers primarily concern themselves with the animal and worker welfare, ignoring the type of facilities chosen. The key to good swine care rests more on the producers’ ability to properly manage housing than it does on the specific type of housing provided. And whatever the facility, housing must supply adequate space for each pig.
The A-frame or portable hut is used for farrowing sow in pasture. The isolation for farrowing sows and the possibility to move and clean ground or pasture in the warm months can be provided by single housing units. Farrowing in the cold months needs heat lamps or heat mats for the piglets. To protect new-born pigs from being crushed by mother sows, deep-bedded straw or pig farrowing crates can be utilized to provide piglets the chance to get away from the risk.
Because temperature is important for pig survival, pig need extra heat supply in winter months. And the optimal temperature varies by the age of pigs: 80°F-85°F for piglets, 70°F-75°F for just-weaned pigs, 60°F-70°F for grow finisher pigs, and 60°F for sows and boars.
The reasonable allocation of pig waterer and pig feeder is also of much importance. So be sure to provide enough water and feed for the number and size of pigs.
Generally, the self-feeder should allow 4 pigs per feeder hole for grow finisher hogs. It is requisite that the pig feeder should be adjusted to allow a proper amount of feed in the feed trough all the time to reduce waste, because feed comprises more than 65% of the cost of raising pigs. If the feeder can not be adjusted, put it on bricks or blocks of wood to raise it off the floor; and the pigs should have access to reach up into the feeder to eat, preventing them from playing in the feed and scattering it on the floor.
The ready availability of clean fresh water is essential. Water should be available in a shallow dish or a trough for the piglets within 6 hours of birth; for the piglets within 24 hours of birth, nipple drinker is a good choice; for pigs from 1-3 weeks of age, water is best presented in an open type drinker. Ensure a low rate of at least 0.6 litres per minute for the piglets within the first 7 days of weaning. And it is advisable to offer water in small open drinkers or water bowls daily for the first 5-7 days post weaning. Give a 4.5 llitres od water twice daily in to the feed trough until 2-3 days posting farrowing of sows; the water flow through a nipple drinker for lactating sows should be about 1.5-2.0 litres per minute; water intake of pregnant sow varies from 9-8 litres per day, 18-36 litres in lactation.
Choose the Right Breeds for Pig Farming
There are many kinds of breeds of swine available in the world, and many commercial operations have developed a crossbreeding system involving a variety of breeds to optimize pig production traits.
—Selection of swine breeds
Yorkshire, Landrace, Chester White, and Tamworth are the examples of this kind of breed which is featured by its ability of producing litters and successfully raising the litters into healthy pigs. And when choose a maternal breed, its size, disposition, milk production, and other reproductive traits should be considered.
This breed includes Hampshire, Duroc, Berkshire, Poland China and Spotted. They are characterized by their ability to produce a quality meat product. Feed efficiency, gain rate, ruggedness, durability, tenderness, lean muscling, and other meat quality characters should be taken into consideration.
—Selection of pigs for breeding stock
1.Select gilts from sows that have superior breed of weaning 9-10 piglets per litter and that are known to have good performance of being mother pigs
2.Select gilts that have at least 12-14 teats so that a large litter can be nursed well
3.Select gilts that have good health condition with strong legs, well-developed body and thigh muscles
4.Beginners for pig farming are advised to start with about 1-2 gilts or sows and progress as more experience and skill is gained
Keep Reproduction of Pig Farming Safe
Bio-security is the important factor to consider when starting pig farming, which is relative to buying sows and gilts (young female pigs) from reputable sources to stop disease and other problems from entering the farm. Good reproductive management of the swinery is important to the pig farming success. Genetics influence litter size, litter weights, growth rate, feed efficiency, back-fat thickness, pork quality, and structural correctness, etc.
The average gestation time from conception until farrowing, is 114 days. During gestation, the piglet grows into a fully formed individual, weighing from 3-3½ pounds. If there is a plan of farrowing at a specific time of the year, the timing of when the sows are bred must be considered.
—Litter size and generation intervals
There are many factors influencing the litter size, and the average litter size can be 10. For early-weaned sows and sows that just have their first litter weaned, it is possible that sows can produce two litters a year.
—Prevent disease introduction
Preventing the introduction of diseases is a constant challenge for all pig farms, especially for the pig farms where the hogs are housed outside or have access to outdoor lots, which is an often case in small-scale pig farming operations. Because it is very difficult to control pig contact with wildlife, stray animals, insects, rodents, and human in this circumstance. Even so, there are some things that can be done to improve a healthy herd.
1.The addition of new animals is the greatest risk of disease introduction, which means the quickest way to spread disease through direct contact between infected and non-infected pigs. So isolation of incoming animals is necessary and important. Isolation helps pig farmers to observe the signs of disease before they are given the chance to infect the rest of herd; if the incoming pigs are vaccinated, the isolation also helps the testing of vaccination of new animals and allows them to become accilimated to the health challenges on the farm. All-in, all-out pig flow can also help prevent the spread of disease from pig to pig.
2.Another route of disease transmission is the airborne spread of pathogens from another swine operation. And generally, this kind of spread can be avoided by locating your pig farm at upwind areas or at least 2 miles from other pigs.
3.If the pigs have access to the outdoors, pigs’ contacting with birds, wildlife, rodents, and insects can not be completely avoided, but there are a few things can be done to minimize the risk.
1) controlling weeds and vegetation;
2) cleaning up spilled feed and debris;
3) removing mortalities;
4) eliminating insect breeding areas, etc.
4.Human and vehicle traffic through the pig operation is the fourth spread route for diseases, so limiting these traffic is needed to reduce the risk of disease transmission from those sources. And the specific methods are keeping feed trucks, market transport vehicles and rendering trucks as far from the hog facilities as is practical; forbidding the people who have contact with other swine operations to enter your farm in 24 hours; thoroughly cleaning the vehicle before returning to the farm after delivering pigs to market, and using separate clothing and boots to enter the uploading facility.
Supply Sufficient Nutrition and Feed for Pig FarmingIt is valuable to work closely with the feed supplier throughout the early stages of pig farming operation, because feed is the major production input in the pig farming accounting for more than 65% of all pig production expenses.
Dietary needs of pigs vary by their ages, weights, and specific functions. It is well-known that cereal grains are low in fiber and high in energy, so the ration of pigs is typically formulated by using them as base ingredients. The nutrients that pigs require are energy, protein, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins.
Usually, the feed given to pigs before they are weaned is the first feed which is a specialized creep feed formulated as a complete ration in pellet form with high levels of protein and amino acid lysine. When the pigs get older, their feed can be switched to a grind-and-mix feed.
The sows usually need only 4-6 pounds of feed per day when they are in gestation with a healthy body under a good living condition. During lactation, a sow needs 7-17 pounds of feed, with an average of 10-12 pounds. But water lack, hot weather or farrowing complications may reduce intake.
Using some homegrown grain or other products around the farm is tempting and cost-saving. But some waste products should be avoided, because they cause poor performance of pigs.
Handle Swine Manure Properly for Pig Farming
Pig manure is a valuable by-product of pig farming that is a kind of natural nutrients source to enhance field crop production. However, handling manure is a tough work for pig farming operation, and the manure can be treated as either a solid or a liquid on the farm.
Information about production rates and nutrient content of pig manure
Production rates (150-pound pig)
1 pig produces 9.5 pounds of solid manure per day,
1.7 tons per year
Solid manure contains 7 pounds of nitrogen, 6 pounds of phosphorus,
and 7 pounds of potassium per ton
1 pig produces 1.2 gallons of liquid manure per day,
440 gallons per year
Liquid manure contains 17 pounds of nitrogen, 10 pounds of phosphorus,
and 16 pounds of potassium per 1000 gallons
100 pigs produce 170 tons of solid manure,
44,000 gallons of liquid manure per year
The manure from 100 pigs would supply nutrients of about 10 acres of
field corn annually and would require little additional purchased
commercial fertilizer to meet crop needs
Being the natural fertilizer for crops is not the only purpose of handling swine manure, the crucial purpose is to keep a clean living environment for pigs. Most small pig farms handle manure as solid by employing conventional manure handling equipment, such as shovels, tractor-mounted loaders, skid loaders, and manure spreaders. And many larger pig farming operations handle the manure as liquid form that requires different types of equipment and structures for collecting and spreading the nutrients on fields.
Handling Pigs for Maximizing Productivity of Pig Farming
Research and common sense show that handling pigs gently with patience results in higher levels of productivity.
—Handling is conducted for specific reasons
1.Movement between barns for different pig growing phases
2.Redistribution into larger or different pens
3.For weighing pigs
4.For medicating pigs
5.For transport to market
—Move pigs by following their behaviors and instincts with patience
1.Pigs have a strong natural urge to escape for their wide-angle vision. To avoid injure during moving, be sure there is no any small visual gap for them to escape.
2.Pigs have a natural tendency to follow each other. So move pigs in small groups (3-5 at a time), and direct the first hog in a right direction, the rest pigs will naturally follow it; give pigs only one way to go by installing solid sides along aisle ways and runway chutes.
3.Pigs are easily frightened or distracted by extreme bright lights and darkness, shiny objects, loud noises, sudden changes in the color of equipment, loose ramps and boards, etc. and calm pigs are easy to handle, so be sure avoid aggressive handling behaviors by minimizing the shadow and bright spots, stop using electric prods and making loud noises, unifying the handling facilities colors, and eliminating or minimizing loose ramps and boards.
4.Flight zone and point of balance
Flight zone is the animals’ personal space. Its size is determined by animals’ wildness and tameness, which means the completely tamed pigs have no flight zone. To keep the pigs stay in their flight zones, the handler has to stand at the outside of this zone, so that the handler can catch the pigs.
The point of balance is the animals’ shoulder, and the handler should stand behind point of balance to make pis move forward, or pigs will back up.
5. When handling pigs, some aid facilities can be employed, and the right handling aids for moving pigs (electric prods are totally prohibited) include pig boards, paddles, witches capes, construction flags.
The aim of managing a healthy pig farming is to ensure that pig farmers run a productive pig farm and deliver a healthy and food-safe product. And we’d like to share more information about pig farming and pig farming equipment.