Care of Farrowing Pigs

For new raisers of pigs, it is advisable to consult veterinarian in the care of mother pigs and their piglets.

1. Some delivering mothers may need more attention during delivery of their piglets when the interval between piglets gets longer than 20 minutes. Give more care to the last piglets to come out because it is here that most piglets are born dead.

2. Take care that the piglets do not lose oxygen during birth.

3. Take care that the mother pig does not suffer from exhaustion or lose strength during delivery so that she can nurse the piglets well.

4. One way of facilitating delivery is by giving prostaglandin injection, especially when the mother pig is getting old.

5. Giving oxytocin also facilitates delivery and reduces the birth of dead piglets.

6. A reminder to the one assisting at the pig's delivery is to keep his hands and arms clean, and to use jelly as lubricant in pulling out the piglet. Without this, there is danger in hurting the pig's genital and thereby cause infection, which could result in delivering dead piglets.

7. A newly born piglet is enveloped in a thin membrane. This must be removed to facilitate breathing. Piglets born weak cannot emerge from this, and so need help lest they suffocate.

8. Clean the newly born piglet; after about an hour cut off the umbilical cord, leaving about 5 cm; apply tincture of iodine where it is cut.

9. With the help of pliers, nip off the small teeth close to the gums (8 in all); apply tincture of iodine on the wound.

10. Also cut off the tail (with the help of scissors) apply iodine on the wound; unless the piglet is intended for breeding.

11. Help the piglet find its mother's teat even while the mother is farrowing. Keep the piglets and the whole brood clean and dry.


It is rather common that some pigs are born dead. But if this happens often with a particular mother hog, there must be reason. It must however be ascertained if the piglet is born dead or just die soon after birth, which could have been saved if immediately noticed. Sometimes certain piglets are born so weak, that they are unable to overcome the membrane in which they are enveloped, and so get suffocated in it; or perhaps were chilled soon after birth, causing their death.

The piglet born dead in its mother's womb at the beginning of pregnancy is hard and deteriorating.

The piglet that died before birth looks normal except for its sunken eyes. To be certain if the piglet was born dead or just died soon after birth, slice a piece of the piglet's lung and place it in a pail of water. If this floats, it means that the piglet had breathed before death (because of the presence of air in the lungs) so, it was alive when it emerged and nothing can be done to save it.

1. There are more piglets born dead among multiple farrowing, usually the fifth or the last three piglets. This is perhaps because of the length of the womb and the umbilical cord. For about one meter of the cord to be borne by the piglet, (while it is normally only 70 cm long) in its length of passage, the cord is stretched and cut and so the last piglets lose breath before they are able to emerge.

2. It could also be due to the aging mother, (which may have farrowed five or six times). Usually, delivering dead piglets start from the fourth to the seventh farrowing. The next farrowing can be seen in the piglets that have been delivered.

3. Other causes could be the stress borne by the mother pig before delivery -- perhaps she has had a fight or had undergone much difficulty in the last weeks before delivery.

4. Fat mother pig have difficulty in delivery.

5. If the mother is anemic or lacks Vitamin E, the piglet cannot survive its delivery because it also lacks Vitamin E.

6. Death of the piglet could also be due to the mother pig's lack of Vitamin A in her diet, months before delivery.

7. If the mother pig's meal becomes contaminated with molds, it will deliver weak or dead piglets.

8. If at a certain time several mother pigs delivery dead piglets infections or sickness could be the cause. There are diseases for instance that are transferable from cats to pigs, but seldom vice versa. If the mother pig gets contaminated while the piglet is still in its womb, this could result in abortion. But if the infection comes about at the latter part of the pregnancy, the piglet will be born dead.

9. If the pig pen lacks proper ventilation, and much more when there is a gas leak around, or if the carbon monoxide level (from vehicle exhausts) is high, this could result in the death of the piglet in the pig's womb.

Source: Greenfields May 1990, photo courtesy of

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