Successful hand rearing of orphan pigs is often difficult and time consuming. Piglets will have the best chance at survival if they are able to nurse on the sow within 24 hours of birth to receive the colostrum that allows the piglets to fight off a multitude of early infections by providing immunity to many common viruses and bacteria. Without the colostrum ingestion most baby piglets die. If the piglet was able to receive colostrum then hand rearing can be successful.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Human baby bottle
- Goat's milk
- Sow milk
- Piglet starter feed
- Human baby rice cereal
- Shallow bowl
Purchase sow's milk replacer at a local feed store. Mix the formula according to the directions on the label. If you cannot find sow's milk then purchase goat's milk from a local farm or health food store.
Warm the milk to body temperature by placing a human baby bottle filled with the piglet's milk into a pan of boiling water until warm. Test the milk on your wrist prior to feeding the piglet. The milk should feel warm but not hot. Do not use a microwave to heat the piglet's milk because a microwave can unevenly heat a bottle and cause cold and hot spots' which could burn the piglet's mouth.
Feed the piglet every two to three hours for the first week of life. The second week feed the piglet every three to four hours. Allow the piglet to consume as much milk as it wants from the bottle. Most baby piglets do not eat a great deal.
Cease feeding after midnight when the baby pig reaches three weeks of age. Feed the last bottle at midnight and the first bottle in the morning at approximately 8 a.m. Feed the baby piglet every three to four hours throughout the day.
Feed the baby piglet a starter piglet formula at two weeks. Mix the starter piglet formula into a shallow bowl according to the directions on the label. Push the baby piglets nose into the formula and the pig will soon understand how to eat from the bowl. Human baby rice cereal can also be used. Mix the rice cereal with the piglet milk to make a runny mix and then gradually thicken the cereal until it has the consistancy of paste when the piglet is three weeks old.
Offer the piglets water when they are three weeks old. Feed the piglet starter or rice cereal several times a day and gradually decrease the bottles. When the piglet is 28 days old it should be completely weaned from the bottle and ready to eat piglet food.
Tips and warnings
- Sterilise the baby bottle between feeding.
- Throw away all mixed sow's milk promptly unless refrigerated.
- Watch closely for diarrhoea in the piglet. If the piglet suffers diarrhoea, call a veterinarian immediately. Diarrhoea can quickly kill a baby piglet.
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