To obtain maximum return from the pig industry, knowledge about scientific management of pigs is very much essential:
1. Giving a good start to piglets
a) It is essential for all piglets to take colostrums (the first milk feeding) from the mother. They will take the first feed within 1 hour after birth. If the sow dies after giving birth to piglets and no foster mother is available, the litter can be reared by hand feeding.
b) The newborn piglets have to be kept in a warm, clean and dry box with clean bedding.
c) Feeding bottles and teats (nipples) which are thoroughly cleaned between each feeding can be used to feed the litter.
d) Regular feeds must be given at intervals of 1 to 2 hours. A good sow milk replacer consists of one egg yolk thoroughly mixed with one liter of warm cow milk.
e) Piglets will take milk from the mother until they are 7 weeks old. They will gradually take less milk and eat more solid feed until they are weaned.
Piglets of 1 to 2 weeks old age group can be offered a handful of cereal, sugar or powdered milk to in the beginning. The young animals need to be gradually given standard fresh feed to avoid digestive problems.
2. Feeding of pigs
The main ingredients of feed provided to the pigs are, locally available grasses, Colocasia, Tapioca and sweet potato leaves and tubers along with small quantity of concentrate. The average feed offered by the farmer/pig/day is 1.53 kg kitchen waste, 1 kg locally available grasses and 200 g concentrate. The concentrate mixture comprised mainly of wheat bran and rice polish. The concentrate mixture along with grasses and kitchen waste is boiled together as slurry (watery mixture) and then the prepared feed is offered to pigs twice daily in nearly equal amounts. No additional feed supplements are given to the pigs by the farmers.
The pig must always be provided with fresh clean drinking water. A sow with young will need 20 – 30 liters of water.
Though, the pig is omnivorous (they eat both meats and plants) and can eat grass and plants, but, pigs will grow and get fatter quickly if they are fed concentrate feed. Grain, which has been well ground into meal, is a good feed.
Pig can be kept alone or in small groups in pig sty, a concrete or solid floored pen with a low shelter. When building a sty, one should choose an area, which is never flooded in the rainy season. It should not be too near to houses as it smells and flies are a nuisance. The floor should be concrete and sloping away from the sleeping area so that urine flows out and away. The concrete floor should be laid on a good foundation and will need to be 5 -6 cm thick. If the concrete is too thin and cracks, the pigs will soon start to dig it up. An earthen (dirt) floor cannot be kept clean and will lead to problems with parasites and other disease.
The walls of the sty need to be fairly smooth so that they can be kept clean. Cracks in the walls will allow dirt and germs to accumulate. The dung can be removed every day allowing the pen to be kept clean and avoiding the buildup of waste and smell.
Whatever the housing method is used, piglets should have access to a warm area, where the sow cannot reach. This is called as creep and piglets can be given feed here and can lie down without the risk of the mother lying on top of them. The sow is prevented from entering the creep by placing a temporary wall of boards or strong rails across part of the shelter. The bottom rail is about 30 cm from the ground allowing the small piglets to pass under it.
4. Health Care
a) All the newly born piglets should be vaccinated at least against Swine fever at the age of 2 months.
b) Pigs can be infected with a number of worms, which results in poor weight gain in adults. In young pigs, infection with roundworms can cause diarrhea, weight loss, lung problems and death. Hence, the piglets should be dewormed regularly once in every three months. Worms from pigs can cause disease in human. The eggs of these parasites infect new hosts (places to live which provide the parasites with food) and can stay in the ground or the pigsty for up to 5 years. Infected pigs can be easily treated with a suitable drug. The pregnant sow should be dewormed before giving birth; otherwise she will pass on infection to her litter.
c) The next commonly occurring ailment is skin infection, which may be caused by several organisms like bacteria, lice, ticks, mites and results in thickening and crusting of the skin. Mange occurs around the head, ears, legs and tail but will spread over the body if not treated. The lice feed on the skin and irritate the pig, which will scratch and can cause wounds, which become infected. The ticks may carry other infections to the animals.
d) Mange is controlled by spraying, dipping or painting the infected areas with a suitable preparation. The pen and shelter should also be thoroughly cleaned out and washed down. Treatment should be repeated after 2 weeks. Affected pens should be thoroughly cleaned.
In general, illness in pig is characterized by dullness, inappetite, disinclination to move (laziness), rough coat with loss of bloom, constipation or diarrhea. Once, these symptoms are noticed, veterinarian should be contacted for treatment
5. Reproductive Management
Production depends largely upon reproduction. Pigs usually attain puberty around 6-11 months of age. It is best to leave one or two initial estrus periods (periods when the pig is fertile) and breed the gilt (the young female pig) in third estrus. The estrus period usually lasts for 3-4 days. The major factor behind the successful pig reproduction is proper detection of estrus.
Estrus detection needs to be carried out slowly and methodically each and every day. The general signs of estrus are vocal, frequent urination, elevation of tail, swollen vulva (genitals), pink vaginal mucous membrane, sticky mucus at vulva, bar biting, climbing, restlessness, pricked ears, loss of appetite, arched back, tail upright and flicking up and down. Not all the above mentioned signs will be exhibited by a single female. Different sow exhibit estrus in different way. The best way to identify heat is to press with palms of both the hands over the loin region (area on sides between ribs and hips) and see the response of female (Backpressure test). If the sow stands motionless with cocked ear (ears pointed up) like a sawhorse, it indicates that the sow is in proper heat (fertile). The best time to mate the sow is 12-36 h after onset (beginning) of heat and if she is still in heat next day also, rebreeding on second day is advocated to get higher conception rate (better chance that the pig will become pregnant) and litter size.
The average gestation period (pregnancy) of sow is usually 114 days. It is better to keep the pregnant sows separately. During pregnancy sow will need plenty of feed with high nutrient (grain and green stuffs) and water. The pen should be kept clean and the sows should be shifted to farrowing pen (the pen where the mother will give birth to baby pigs) 3 weeks before the expected date of farrowing (birth). The sow should be provided with plenty of clean bedding materials when farrowing is close. It is better to avoid feeding sow within 12 h of farrowing. The sow becomes restless and starts to make a nest within 24 hours of giving birth. The teat will produce milk when gently squeezed. Blood stained fluid may be passed from the vagina 1 to 2 hours before birth begins and if small greenish pellets appear, the first piglets will appear within an hour. The sow should be closely watched during farrowing. In case of any difficulty in parturition (labor or birth), the veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
The piglets should be removed as they are farrowed and they should be cleaned off all mucus to ensure that the breathing passages are clear. Weak piglets should be guided to suck the mother’s teat. After weaning (process of replacing breast milk with adult pig diet) the piglets, the sow exhibits estrus within a week. Hence, early weaning of piglets at about 3-4 weeks may help in reducing the inter-farrowing interval (time between pregnancy of the sow).
The following points must be taken care to get the maximum benefits out of pig rearing
a) Proper Feeding
b) Proper Housing
c) Proper Estrus Detection and Mating
d) Proper Care of Pregnant Sow
e) Hygienic (clean) Farrowing pen
f) Proper care of new born piglets
g) Early weaning
h) Early postpartum (after pregnancy) mating