There are many different challenges that can come with pig farming, from the reproduction stage right up to raising piglets to the optimum age. As with the farming of any type of livestock, pigs come with their own list of requirements as well as necessary farming equipment to ensure a healthy, usable product whilst also maintaining the productivity of the farm.
Some of the main areas in pig farming where challenges can arise include the following:
- Maintenance of pigs in pregnancy
- Maintenance and rearing of piglets
- General maintenance of the herd
By carefully considering each of these factors, and effectively preparing for the challenges they can present, farmers can help to ensure success and productivity with their livestock. Pig farming can be a demanding and stressful practice; it is important to identify potential challenges that can occur throughout all parts of the process and be fully equipped to help prevent any issues from arising.
Pig Farming Challenge 1: Reproduction
One challenge that can come with pig farming is missing the signs of a female pig in heat, which is of course very pertinent when running a farm during the warmer summer months. If a pig in heat is missed or goes unnoticed, this can lead to missed breeding opportunities, which can decrease production rates and further the productivity of the farm. A pig can present many different signs that suggest they are on heat, some of these signs include those as follows:
- Becoming more vocal
- Will be more excitable
- Ears may prick up
- Standing heat
The interest a pig in heat will have towards a boar can also be as a sign that they are on heat. Sows (female pigs) and gilts (female pigs under one year old) will mostly be in heat for a few days, therefore it’s crucial to detect when a pig is in heat, and act fast to ensure the reproductive window isn’t missed.
Pig Farming Challenge 2: Maintenance of Pigs in Pregnancy
Once the sow or gilt has been fertilised, the gestation time is another vital period in pig farming that can come with many challenges. Farmers should ensure the optimum conditions for their pregnant pigs in order to produce a good, healthy-sized litter. Being prepared to provide the optimum conditions for your pigs during this period can help to yield optimum litters, helping to improve your farm’s productivity.
It is also vital to work quickly and efficiently when your pig shows signs of farrowing, and to prepare the conditions of the sow and their litter accordingly. Preparation for the litter include providing enough bedding (straw and hay) for the piglets, and ensuring that the room is warm enough for the litter to stay in.
This will also likely involve investing in new straw spreading equipment or effectively maintaining that which you may already have. Proper bedding for your livestock is a hugely important factor when it comes to caring for them and their well-being.
Pig Farming Challenge 3: Maintenance and Rearing of Piglets
Once the litter has been born, it is important to provide enough bedding and for the bedding in question to be deep enough, to help maintain the warmth that is vital for a litter to grow normally. It also helps to provide the litter with a comfortable place to eat, sleep, and live, all of which will factor into growth rates and therefore any associated profits and the success of your livestock.
It is also important to maintain the body conditions of the sow, as they can have a direct effect on the litter’s growth and thereby the farm’s overall productivity. Sows can experience a decline in their physical condition during lactation periods too, which can reduce the amount of milk they will provide for their litter, potentially further reducing the litter’s growth.
A sow in poor condition from lactation can also be expensive to the farm, requiring additional amounts of food to restore them to a healthy condition. It’s vital to maintain a sow’s condition during this lactation period as much as possible, and to pay attention, and act accordingly when they appear to be in decline. Providing sows with sufficient levels of high-nutrient food can help to maintain their physical condition during this period.
Pig Farming Challenge 4: Maintenance of The Herd
Aside from the reproduction process, general maintenance of the herd is another crucial factor in ensuring success and productivity throughout your farm. Aside from making sure the herd has the optimum conditions for healthy growth (enough food, healthy environmental conditions), one challenge that can threaten the maintenance and health of a herd is the spread of disease. In past times, foot and mouth disease has affected and badly harmed farmer’s livestock, but there are many more potentially fatal diseases to consider.
Early detection of illnesses of all types is vital in ensuring the safety of a herd. Farmers should pay careful attention to the herd and look for any signs of abnormal behaviour, including weight loss or lack of appetite. The pigs in a herd should be assessed frequently to check for any signs of abnormality or illness. By conducting regular checks, farmers can help to identify sick pigs quickly, and can deal with it before illness spreads throughout the rest of the herd.