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How to Breed Pigs

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Good breeding techniques promise you a large litter and great profit. Find some useful tips on breeding pigs.
Pigs are one of the easiest farm animals to rear and breed. They have a very short gestation period as compared to other farm animals. Besides, they produce a large litter, mostly of healthy piglets.
However, if you wish to derive maximum profit from your pigs, it is a must that you learn good breeding techniques. Here is information on producing large litter with the help of only a few breeding animals.

How to Breed Pigs for Profit?

Female pigs achieve sexual maturity by the age of 5 to 6 months. Young females are called gilts. Females that are considered ideal for breeding are about 8 to 10 months old and are called sows. Male pigs or boars achieve sexual maturity by the age of 6 to 8 months. Boars of about 1 year are best for breeding.

Buying Breeding Animals

If you do not have enough animals of your own or you are a first time breeder, then you may have to buy healthy boars and sows. A young boar, that has just attained sexual maturity can mate as many as 12 sows, whereas older boars can mate about 50 sows in a pen or 40, in a pasture.
Thus, a single boar itself is sufficient enough to impregnate a large number of sows, during breeding time. The animals that you buy for breeding must be healthy, without any visible deformities.
Always make it a point to buy animals from reputed farmers or breeders. Animals that have a history of producing large litter with more meat and less fat must be selected for breeding purpose.

Time of Breeding

The breeding time is characterized by the heat period of a female. During a 21 day cycle, a female is in heat for 3 to 4 days.
A female in heat is easy to identify. She exhibits a restless behavior, runs around with a tail held high or sometimes tries to ride other sows. You will also see a noticeable change in her vulva, which usually becomes large and swollen when a sow is in heat.

Frequency of Mating

Gilts should mate right from the first day of their heat period. Sows can be made to mate from the next day of their heat period. A female must mate on every day of her heat period until she conceives.
As far as males are concerned, young boars should not be made to work more than twice a week, whereas older boars can provide service up to three times, though not on consecutive days.

Selecting a Boar and Sow

While a single boar can mate with 40-50 sows, it makes sense to have more boars in different age groups for this purpose. A boar and sow that you select for mating must be of roughly the same size and age. Gilts that come in heat for the very first time, must be mated with younger boars only. Larger, older boars should be used for mating old and heavy sows.

Caring for Pregnant Sows

The gestation period of pigs is about 113 days. During this time, it is very much important to protect a pregnant sow from diseases and infections. Treat the sows for lice or worm infestation at least 2 weeks prior to her due date.
Also, immunize her against erysipelas, a common swine infection. This protects the newborn piglets from catching the infection from their mothers during birth. Keep her habitat hygienic and well ventilated.

Preparing for Birth

On the birthing day, be prepared with lots of clean, old rags, iodine, clean water, etc. Set the sow in a comfortable position for birth. Clean each piglet with an old rag as it arrives and spray its navel with iodine.
The temperature requirements of the mother and newborns are different. While the mother prefers a cooler temperature, newborns cannot sustain temperatures below 50°F. Newborns may have to be provided with artificial heaters in pen. Hence, it is best to keep mothers and newborns at different places in a pen, except during mealtimes.

Maintaining Records

It is very important to keep a track of fertility of all sows and boars on your farm. A boar is considered fertile up to two years of age. Older boars (above 36 months) may have to be replaced with younger ones.
Similarly, infertile boars or boars with lower libido must be culled. Fertility and litter size of sows must be monitored as well. Only those sows with large litter of healthy piglets should be allowed to breed further.
For excellent breeding results, it is a must to give proper rest to breeding animals between every breeding session. Females must be given enough time to recover between two litters and the number of litters should not exceed 2 in her lifetime.