When sows farrow (give birth), they have a litter of piglets – sometimes up to 20+! Out of those piglets, most will be about the same size; but that’s not always the case.
Most sows have 14 teats, which means they can nurse up to 14 piglets comfortably. So what do we do with the rest of the piglets? We cross-foster!
Cross-fostering (which I will, from here on out, refer to as just fostering) means that we will take piglets off of a sow if she has more than 14, or give a sow a couple piglets if her own litter was less than 14 piglets. We also ensure that all piglets in a litter are the same size, giving each piglet a fair chance at nursing (drinking the sow’s milk)! If there is a tiny little piglet in a litter of larger piglets, we will swap the small one with a larger piglet. This way we will have litters of 14 small piglets, and 14 large piglets – this way, they pick on someone their own size!
Getting piglets fostered is a very essential task, and needs to be done soon after the piglets have been born and have begun nursing. Pigs are smart animals, within 72 hours of being born each piglet will have chosen a teat to nurse on and it will only nurse on that teat! For this reason, it’s very important to foster piglets as soon as possible. Stay tuned to learn more about farrowing sows and their piglets, & of course all the cute piglet pictures!