tiny baby pigsHandling
  • Pigs should be handled quietly to avoid stress.
  • Electric prodders, plastic pipes and dogs must not be used on pigs.
  • Use backing boards to move pigs.
  • Don’t lift pigs by their ears or legs, unless they are fully supported.
Restraint
  • Small pigs can be held by hand or when bigger, squeezed up behind doors or gates.
  • Mature pigs are best handled in a crate.
  • Pigs can also be held by a noose over the upper jaw. Pigs hate this so it’s a good idea to wear ear protection to dampen noise.
Castration
  • This may not be necessary if pigs grow quickly and are slaughtered before boar problems develop (fighting, meat taint).
  • Where needed, a skilled operator should do it, no later than 7 days of age.
  • Castration of pigs over 7 days old should only be carried out by a vet. 
Tusk trimming
  • These can be trimmed, especially on boars that are potentially aggressive.
  • Pigs attack by both biting and swiping upwards using their protruding tusks.
  • Get a skilled person to do the job as correct restraining the animal is critical.
  • The tusks don't have much nerve or blood supply so they shouldn't bleed when cut.
  • If not done properly, the trimmed tusk can still be very sharp and dangerous.
Nose ringing
  • This will stop the pig rooting up pastures when grazing.
  • The nose is a very sensitive area and the operation causes pain which the pig will remember and associate with you.
  • It must be done properly in the cartilage on the top of the snout or in the tissue separating the two nostrils.
  • Get veterinary help to avoid stress and personal injury.
Clipping piglet’s needle teeth
  • These small sharp canine teeth can cut the sow’s teats and damage litter mates.
  • If performed, teeth clipping of piglets must be carried out before 24 hours old and after 6-8 hours to allow prior colostrum absorbtion.
  • No more than one third of the tooth should be removed.
  • Use sharp clippers and avoid shattering the tooth or damaging the gums or mouth.
  • Seek professional assistance to avoid stressing the young piglets, and make sure the sow is restrained when doing it or she will attack you when the piglets squeal.
Tail docking
  • This should be a last resort if the causes of tail biting can’t be found.
  • A skilled operator should remove a third to a half of the tail.
  • Seek veterinary help as bleeding and infection can occur.
  • If performed, it must be carried out before 24 hours old and after 6-8 hours to allow prior colostrum absorbtion.
Identification
  • Ear notching should be done before 3 days of age and preferably within 6 hours of birth. Disinfect equipment during use. 
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