Identifying pigs that need to be taught feeding behavior is a high priority during the first few days after weaning, says Steve Dritz, swine specialist, Kansas State University. The most difficult part of the process involves identifying the small percentage of pigs that need this individual attention. The critical times are approximately 36 to 60 hours after weaning.
Pigs that are not eating well will begin to develop round abdomens, whereas pigs that have not begun to eat will be gaunt. Although most veterinarians easily evaluate signs that a pig has not begun to eat, many untrained personnel will have a difficult time identifying the signs.
Here's a mental checklist that you can use to inspect pigs from a distance:
- Mental status – alert or depressed?
- Body condition – normal or thin?
- Abdominal shape – round or gaunt?
- Skin – sleek appearance or fuzzy?
- Appetite – is the pig at the feeder or huddled?
- Signs of dehydration – normal or sunken eyes?