pig breeding

Pork production: Dr. Mary-Louise answers your questions on starting with pigs

I have started pig farming with five six-month-old females and a nine-month-old boar. I don’t know very much about pigs and would like to find out about pig breeding. I’ve read that females should be eight months old and of a decent weight before breeding and that the boar should be 10 months old. When, and how often, will the females come on heat and for how long is a sow pregnant?

Your gilts are probably already coming on heat at six months as long as they are sharing the same air space as the boar (although not the same pen). You’re right to wait until they are at least 8 months to breed them.
Female pigs come on heat every 3 weeks. The length of pregnancy for pigs is about 115 days, or 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.

The boar’s smell stimulates the females to cycle, so it is likely that all 5 gilts will come on heat together. With only one boar, don’t serve more than 2 females at a time, as a boar should not work more than 2 or 3 times a week. He needs time to build up his semen reserves in between services.

Having 5 litters at once would have other disadvantages. Lactating sows need extra, good quality feed and extra water. And somebody should be there while they are farrowing just in case there is a problem – although there usually isn’t.

Piglets would need a quality creep feed before and after weaning, as well as warmth and lots of clean dry bedding. You can only recover the costs when you sell the piglets.

Start off with the two biggest gilts in the best condition to be bred first when they are in standing heat.

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