FAQ Livestock Production

What is Puberty?
Puberty is age/time at which female animal first time show signs of estrus with ovulation and male animal is capable to impregnate the animal.

What is the age of puberty in female pigs?
Age of puberty in female pigs is around 6 – 11 months. It is influenced by breed, nutrition and other managemental-environmental factors. Female animals should kept in vicinity of male animal with balanced ration for timely onset of puberty.

What is estrus/heat and its duration?
Estrus is the period in the sexual cycle of female during which they are ready to accept a male and to mate. In female pig, it varies from 40-60 hrs with ovulation occurring between 24-42 hrs after onset of estrus.

What are signs of estrus/heat in pigs?
The primary sign of estrus in sow is immobilization while another sow or boar mounts on her. Other behaviour signs like elevation of ears, locking of knees and elevating the back, reddening of vulva with mucus discharge, restlessness, frequent urination, immobilization or lordosis response on back pressure (standing reflex) etc.

What is the length of estrous cycle in pigs?
Sow is a polyestrous species and the average length of estrous cycle is 21 days with a range from 18 to 23 days.

What is the best time of breeding/artificial insemination (AI) in sows?
Gilts should be inseminated 12 hrs and sows should be inseminated 24 hrs after detection of estrus for optimum litter size. Litter size can be increased by doing two times AI at 12 hrs interval.

What is the gestation period of livestock?

Species Gestation period (days)
Cow 280 ± 10
Buffalo 350 ± 5
Goat 145–155
Sheep 144–151
Pig 112–115

What are the methods of pregnancy diagnosis in pigs for better reproductive and productive efficiency?
The list below highlights the different methods for diagnosing pregnancy in pigs.
Daily observation of the vulva and the behavioural sign of estrus of the female when a boar is present, particularly at 18-22 days post-breeding. If animal is pregnant, it will not repeat signs of estrus. Accuracy of this method is more than 70%.
Doppler ultrasound machines at day 25-28 post-breeding.
Vaginal biopsy.
Serum analysis for progesterone assay at day 21 post-breeding.
Abdomen enlargement in advance stage of pregnancy.

What are the signs and symptoms of farrowing?
Farrowing can be considered in three stages, pre-farrowing, farrowing and immediate post-farrowing period.
Stage 1 Pre-farrowing period- signs of this period includes:
Development of the mammary glands, swelling of the vulva, teats enlarged and udder becomes prominent.
Within 12 hours of actual delivery of piglets, milk is secreted into the mammary glands and with a gentle hand and finger massage it can be expressed from the teats. This is one of the most reliable signs of impending parturition.
Reduced appetite and sow become restlessness, standing up and lying down and if bedding material is available chewing and moving this around in her mouth. If she is loose-housed on straw, she will make a bed.
A slight mucous discharge may be seen on the lips of the vulva. If a small round pellet of faeces is seen in the mucous and the sow is distressed, farrowing has started and it is highly likely the first piglet is presented backwards.
The final part of stage 1 is the opening of the cervix to allow the pigs to be pushed out of the uterus, through the vagina and into the world.
Stage 2 Farrowing period:
This can range from 3 to 8 hours and piglets are usually delivered every 10 to 20 minutes but there is a wide variation. There is often a gap between the first and second piglet of up to three quarters of an hour.
Immediately prior to the presentation of a pig the sow lays on her side, often shivering and lifting the upper back leg. This is an important point to take note of because it may indicate the presence of a stillbirth. Twitching of the tail is seen just as a pig is about to be born.
Stage 3 Expelling of the placenta:
Placenta is expelled out in one to four hours post farrowing and is an indication of completion of farrowing, although some afterbirth may be passed during the process of farrowing.
Once the sow has completed the farrowing, she appears at peace, grunts and calls the piglets.
Shivering and movement of the top hind leg ceases. If this is still occurring it is likely that a pig is still presented in birth canal.
After the placenta has been expelled there will be a slight but sometimes heavy discharge for the next 3 to 5 days.
Provided the udder is normal, sow is normal and eating well ignore it because it is a natural post-farrowing process.

What is the ratio of male and female pig for breeding purpose?
Normally one male is sufficient for ten to fifteen females for breeding purpose.

After how many days post partum heat come?
Sow should be carefully observed for signs of heat 30 days post partum or just after complete weaning.

What type of care and management should be taken during pregnancy?
It is very essential to take adequate care of the pregnant animals so as to get normal and healthy piglets. Pregnant sow should be kept separately and shifted to farrowing pen 3 weeks before farrowing. Adequate balance feed with adlibitum clean drinking water should be provided and sufficient bedding materials preferably dry paddy straw should be given before farrowing.

What type of care should be taken during and after farrowing?
The farrowing is generally completed within 6 hours but occasionally may last up to 8 hours. Generally no assistance is required at the time of farrowing. However sometimes the piglet’s nostrils, mouth etc. are covered with mucus. In that case this should be cleaned and if respiratory problem is there, air should be blown into the nostril and mouth. Care should be taken at the time of farrowing to avoid crushing of piglets by the mother by providing guard rails or assistance and weak piglets should be assisted to suckle milk from teats of mother. From the second day onward the feed to the mother should be increased depending on the number of piglets.

What is dystocia and how it should be handle?
Dystocia means difficult birth and its signs include anorexia, prolonged gestation, blood-tinged vulvar discharge, prolonged labour, straining without delivery of piglets, ultimately exhaustion of animal and cessation of labour. Later on foul-smelling and/or discoloured discharge from the vulva. The most common cause of dystocia is faulty wrong position of piglets in the birth canal and uterine inertia.

What is stillbirth?
Delivery of dead fetus at the time of farrowing.

What are the causes of stillbirth?
Main causes of stillbirth are:
Stillbirths are common in prolonged farrowing.
Lack of exercise during pregnancy may raise stillbirth rates.
Stillbirths are raised where there is a long gestation period.
Farrowing house temperatures above 24˚C (75˚F) increase the risk of stillbirths.
Uterine inertia results in stillbirths.
High carbon monoxide levels in the air associated with faulty gas heaters can raise stillbirth rates significantly.
Stillbirths increase with the increasing age of the sow.
Stillbirths occur more in larger litter size.

How to prevent stillbirths in pigs?
Do not let the age of the herd spread beyond the seventh litter/parity.
Identify problem sows and observe their farrowing behaviour. If need provide adequate assistance.
Check farrowing house environments and maintain hygienic conditions.
Check farrowing pen designs and provide guard rails.
Interfere early in prolonged farrowing.
Give good management with adequate exercise and balanced ration in advance pregnancy.
Provide a heat source behind sow at farrowing.

What is Abortion?
Abortion means the premature expulsion of a dead or non-viable foetus and causes may be infectious of non-infectious in origin.