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Pig Production and Management

Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management

Pig Production

Pig Production

Pig Production

Pig production is one of the most rewarding agribusiness around the world. Pigs are easy to keep and you can keep them in different forms in different countries. Some small scale farmers, especially in rural areas keep pigs for meat and may sale some whenever there is a need and usually these pigs are left free to root and roam. This agribusiness article will provide in detail on management in pig production, which will enable you to perform better in your pig farming business.

Terminologies in Pig Production


A sow is a female pig, which has recently given birth to litters.


A female pig, which has not given birth to a litter yet, the same terminology is also used to refer to a female pig from the time it is weaned to the time before it farrow.


This refers to a male pig, which is not castrated and may be reserved for breeding purposes.


This refers to a female pig giving birth to litters.


This refers to the smallest piglet which is seen undersized in a litter.


This refers to a male pig, which has Cryptorchidism


This refers to the male pig, which is castrated because of its sexual characteristics which is observed during its secondary stage.

Barrow or Hog

This refers to a male pig, which is castrated prior to its sexual characteristics observed in secondary period.

Piglets or Sucklings

unweaned young pigs and can be male or female.


This refers to a pig meat which is fresh and has been made from a porker. It can weigh a range of 50 to 60 kg.


This refers to a pig meat which is cured from a baconers. It can weight a range of 90 to 120 kg.

Creep feed

This refers to a pellet form of a meal which is given to piglets. They are given to them from day 10 of age.

Service crate

This refer to a crate which is made for mating pigs and it could keep 2 pigs ready for mating.

Heavy hogs

This refers to a pig, which has been fattened and is able to weigh a live weight of 120 going up.

Three Types of Pig Keeping Systems

Pigs can be kept under free range, semi-intensive and intensive system.

1. Free-range scavenging pig keeping

Under this system pigs is left free to scavenge to find their own food themselves. They may be allowed to rotate the pastured or any cropland. This system of piggery is cheap, but it makes the pigs to be prone to predators and diseases. The system is mostly practiced by small scale farmers who keep pigs mainly for meat purposes.

2. Semi-intensive pig keeping

Under this system a simple house may be constructed to house the pigs and a pig farmer should make sure he/she pays greater attention to the animal. Modest input may be used in semi- intensive system. The system offers an efficient way and this makes a medium scale farmers to keep pigs in a few quantity and may sale them. Under this system a pig farmer must provide the feed to the pigs, unlike in the free range where pigs are left to find their own food. Make sure you provide fresh feed and water. The system is able to offer a protection to the pigs.

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3. Intensive pig keeping

This is keeping a greater number of pigs indoors for marketing purpose. The system is characterized by high efficiency rate. Feeds and water are provided all the time. The system is able to offer 100% protection of pigs from predators and biosecurity measures can be easily applied. This system requires more capital investment, unlike the previous systems above.

What do we have to know about pigs?

  1. All pigs are monogastric animals
  2. Pigs are able to grow faster than other animals, making them perform better when it comes to pig farming business.
  3. Pigs are able to produce at least 2 litters in a year and these litters can range from 5 to 20 piglets.
  4. Pigs only take 21 days to be in heat.
  5. Pigs easily get stressed and are known to be social animals.
  6. Pigs have fats which offer insulation in it's body.

Factors Which One Should Consider Before Starting Pig Production

  1. Make sure you compare the pig profits with other enterprises to make a right choice.
  2. Type of system to use, i.e. free range or intensive depending on capital availability and type of breeds which you want to keep.
  3. Your knowledge and experience in pig production. The more you know about pig business the more likely you are going to succeed.

Merits and Demerits of Pig Production

Pigs are known to be very good when it comes to feed conversion this is why they are prolific and are known to be more rewarding compared to other farm enterprises and this act as merits. Pigs have a demerit of not being internationally recognized or accepted food and are known to cause pollution. This is not all, as the pigs are prone to parasites and diseases.


Make sure you construct a good pig house which is strong, but easy to clean and has a good air circulation (good ventilation). The house should offer a protection to your pigs.


Make sure you select the best animals having good healthy characteristics for breeding to be able to produce good piglets. You can use records to select good breeds based on past performances.

Recognizing the Heat (Oestrus)

Make sure you check twice a day on your sow to see if it is on heat period. You can be doing this during feeding time.

Signs on Heat or Oestrus

  1. A sow vulva turn red and stat swelling. This is easily seen in gilts unlike sows.
  2. Your sows start mounting each other.
  3. A sow on heat eat less feed.
  4. A sow on heat becomes restless.
  5. A sow on heat tries to contact a boar if it is close.

Weaned sow are able to come on heat again after one week while they shoe the signs of heat for 4 to 7 days.

Health and Hygiene

Mostly on pigs under free range systems, make sure your pigs are not eating human extras (faeces) as this can give a bad intention to buyers and those who do not eat pork. This is also good for the healthy of your animals. Always observe that your pigs are in good healthy and whenever you observe something abnormal make sure you call your local veterinary officer for assistance. Make sure all feed and water equipments are kept clean all the times. Make sure you provide a space of 40 to 50 centimeters to each sow. Fat pigs requires a space of 30 centimeters.
Make sure you keep pigs of different sizes in different sections. Avoid combining them as this can make your pigs to be less efficient. Avoid bringing new pigs to your farm and apply biosecurity measures which aims at restricting visitor's entry.

Housing for a Sow and her Piglets

Make sure you offer a protection on your piglets from cold. Where possible, provide dry beddings on the floor. Make sure you keep piglets in a separate section. This will offer a protection for the piglets from being accidentally killed by their mother through crushing.

Birth and Care of Newborn Piglets

From the time a sow get pregnant, it gives birth to litters in 113 to 116 days and this is equal to 3 months and 3 weeks, adding 3 days on top. After successful mating your sow, you can easily calculate as to when will your sow give birth. Farrowing of pigs usually occurs at night.

Feeding management of pigs

Make sure you provide enough feed quantity of high quality to your lactating and nursing sow. Provide a range of 18 to 30 litters of water every day.

Flushing and gestation phase

Make sure you flush your sow after weaning to be in a good condition for mating (breeding) again in the season to come. You achieve flushing by providing feeds enrich with energy. During flushing be providing 9 to 18 litters of water each day and it has to be provided in ad libitum. Make sure you slow down the amount of feed to provide immediately after mating.

Management of Sow and Litter

Make sure you prepare for farrowing by doing the following; disinfect the pen and make sure it's clean in 4 to 6 weeks before farrowing. Remove all the old beddings during cleaning and replace them with fresh ones. Make sure the pen is allowed to dry for a week. Put a sow at farrowing pen 2 to 3 days before giving birth. Make sure you reduce the feed intake for the sow to make her bowl empty ready for farrowing.

Signs of farrowing

  1. Restlessness of a sow. A sow, start to build her nest as well using her beddings.
  2. Vulva starts enraging than ever before. Udders are seen to be full.
  3. An abnormal contraction of a sow muscle.

Make sure the farrowing has a temperature range of 26 to 28 °C. It takes more time for the farrowing process to complete but on average you can be seeing a piglet coming out in 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you do not disturb the sow during farrowing.

Artificial Rearing of Piglets

If your sow has given birth to many piglets make sure you give it to a foster mother having a good mothering ability. This artificial rearing, also becomes useful if there is a death of a sow soon after giving birth. Make sure you use artificial colostrum milk. Make sure you supplement iron to your piglets to prevent iron deficiency.

Feeding piglets

Make sure you feed your piglet colostrum milk from the first day to day 4. After day 4 provides feed milk. Make sure you start giving creep feeds from 9th to 10th day. Weaning can take place in week 8 after a birth day.


Make sure you castrate undesirable pigs 8 weeks after. This has to be done within the weaning time. Optimal results are obtained when you castrate piglets in 3 to 7 weeks from birth and the piglet feel less pain.

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