In terms of morbidity, mortality, weaning weight and variation, the steps you take during a piglet’s first eight hours of life to ensure nutrition and viability will pay off throughout the nursery and finishing phases. PIC technical services personnel offer some tips.
• Dry towels are the newborn piglet’s friend. Workers attending a farrowing sow should pick up wet piglets and dry them off. Drying agents or powders sprinkled on the mat are useful, but rubbing piglets will also stimulate them to breathe.
• Heat lamp height and comfort or thermal mats also help maintain body temperature and comfort. Temperatures in the pig zone on the mat or under the heat lamp should be 90° F. When ventilation is running, check to ensure that drafts are not present in this important area.
• Hot boxes may be of value in some circumstances. When using hot boxes, place the piglets in them for no more than 10 minutes. Don’t confuse the use of a hot box with split suckling, which is done after the litters are dried.
• Basic steps in farrowing room preparation also can go a long way to minimize losses. Room temperature should be steady at 74° F to 75° F, with ventilation flows properly directed. Make sure heat lamps, floor mats and hot boxes are clean and properly positioned.
Also, see that there are sufficient supplies of towels, the drying agent, nutritional supplements and birthing assistance tools within reach or available nearby.