By Sam DeHaas, General Manager, The Maschhoffs Great South Region
The key to success in the farrowing room can be summed up in just a few words — it’s all about the details.
While that sounds simple, a lot of effort goes into making sure those details are carried out each and every day. It starts with the details around room setup and supply management. Before farrowing begins, each room needs to be stocked with drying totes and farrowing-assistance kits. Heat lamps should be function checked. If you have everything ready to go from the start, you’re not going to waste time running back and forth to the supply room.
Farrowing process guidelines
Once the process begins, follow the work instructions extremely closely. Newborn piglets need to be cleaned and dried as soon as possible. A piglet shivering in the corner is at risk.
After the little ones are dry, getting them on the underline becomes the top priority. You have to make sure every piglet is getting access to their mother’s colostrum. If that means taking time to do split suckling, then that’s what you do. A belly full of colostrum is vital.
Also, taking the time to constantly identify and pull fall-behind piglets is critical. Grouping them together on a nurse sow can have a huge impact on any company’s bottom-line. That’s a potential 12-15 piglets per nurse sow that would have perished otherwise.
Those who have worked a farrowing room are well aware of the sights and sounds. Any sort of sound that is out of the norm needs to be addressed immediately. Whether a sow or piglet is in distress, the entire team should stop what they’re doing and make sure someone is rectifying the situation.
Time and effort go a long way
Every detail in the piglets’ first few days of life has a major effect on mortality. These guidelines are not just a checklist, they are imperative for improving pre-wean mortality, long-term survival and performance of the pigs.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of piglet care is the mentality of the workers on the farm. Caring about every piglet, making sure piglets are receiving the attention they need, stopping and assisting with a piglet in distress even if it is not your direct responsibility all make a difference. Compassion is key.
Taking the extra 30 seconds in a walkthrough to move a chilled piglet under a heat lamp, assisting a screaming piglet that is being laid on, helping a piglet find a teat to nurse, etc., can make a huge difference in the performance of your barn and the welfare of the animals. By paying attention to all of the details, everyone is doing their part to help boost pigs per sow per year.