Occasionally sows will attack their own piglets - usually soon after bear - causing injury or death.

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In excessive cases, wherein feasible, outright cannibalism will certainly occur and also the sow will certainly eat the piglets. The advance of this plot is often complicated and an overwhelming to stop and can cause far-ranging losses.



Fig 1: The child piglet is especially vulnerable come attack.

Whilst savaging is most noticeable in the indoor crated farrowing setting it does happen in outdoor herds although because of the very nature of the device it may be overlooked if piglets are completely eaten or end up being buried in the deep straw bedding once killed.

In current years liberty farrowing systems have actually been developed and also introduced in UK indoor ranches where the sow is either no confined at every in a crate or is only confined for a really short duration eg during actual farrowing. It is claimed that whilst savaging have the right to still take place the duration and also severity the the strikes tend to it is in lessened.


Fig 2: permitting gilts and sows to clear up in crates well before farrowing may reduce savaging risks


Fig 3: Boxing piglets away during farrowing may reduce the threat of savaging.Development and Presentation

Savaging the piglets most commonly occurs in gilt litters (but is not always restricted to them). This has tendency to average that major problems are restricted to brand-new herds where all farrowings space gilts. There space a number of particular components that may create gilts to savage.

1) In the indoor farm in the UK, the prompt pre-farrowing period is likely to be the first time that gilts room confined in crates and as together they deserve to be very agitated. The effect at farrowing time can be worse if the gilt has actually had tiny time to clear up down e.g. Farrows the day after crating. Similarly, gilts not provided time come settle and also nest develop outdoors have the right to be agitated and also prone come aggression.

2) The basic management the gilts after service and also leading up to farrowing can also impact gilt behaviour. The much more human call gilts have during pregnancy, the less wary they will certainly be when crated.

3) Agitation may likewise increase due to the suddenly drop in food intake needed before farrowing to avoid milking and also physical problems.

4) The stockman behaviour in ~ the farrowing area will likewise influence gilt (and sow) behaviour. A according to agitated stockman will tend to put pigs \"on edge\" whereas one who quietly goes around his work will be much more settling.

5) The discomfort of farrowing might act as a create for aggression in the gilt exacerbated by huge pigs in small litters. The larger the litter and also hence smaller sized the individuals, the much less painful may farrowing be.

6) human body condition. Over there is a solid association between savaging and excessive body problem in gilts. This may be the result of fat build-up in the pelvis restricting the bear canal, excess growth of piglets close come term developing bigger piglets come pass with a small channel or a mix of the two.

7) Cascade effect. In the same way that, in ~ a room, one sow phone call its litter come suck has the impact of triggering other sows to do likewise, an aggressive gilt or sow attacking a piglet can trigger copycat behaviour.

8) cross - fostering. If pigs room boxed far at birth and then distributed, less difficulties tend come occur, but if the gilt has suckled some of her very own litter and also litters room then swapped in ~ the first 12 - 24 hours she might react versus the fosterlings, resulting in damage.

9) Genetics. Over there is no certain identified hereditary basis because that cannibalism yet many pig producers have actually a watch that details breed species or certain breeding firm production heat are much more prone come savaging. It is possible in some situations that this relates much more to the rearing atmosphere of the gilt 보다 its genotype particularly if gilts get minimal or aggressive handling prior to delivery.


Not uncommonly the entirety or part of the litter may simply be discovered dead or parts of your bodies left in the pen. However, periodically only solitary pigs might be attacked. The activity to take will depend on the degree of damages done. If major then euthanasia of the piglet is the just realistic and also humane option. If but only skin damages occurs this deserve to be sutured. Glued or stapled together and in general rapid healing will occur. Antibiotic cover, aided suckling and also avoidance of chilling should type part that the parenting care.

Prevention that Savaging

1) Regularly take care of pregnant gilts sympathetically.

2) embrace a quiet approach to monitoring of farrowing houses.

3) certain gilts are crated 3 or an ext days prior to farrowing. (This need must be balanced versus the have to observe all in all out circulation of farrowing houses and also the need to avoid prolonged recumbancy pre-farrowing which can create pressure sores end the shoulders).

4) provide bran as a instead of to high level link feed before farrowing.

5) Induce and supervise farrowing and box piglets away during the farrowing process.

6) Cull any type of sow i beg your pardon savages much more than one litter.

7) protect against cross fostering litters on come gilts.

8) for sure gilts execute not farrow in excess condition by attention to feeding from puberty onwards.

9) some stockmen believe that play music within the farrowing area helps alleviate savaging. Provided the wide diversity of music played it is likely that any benefits space indirect and have impacts on the stockman fairly than the pigs.

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10) reduce lighting levels or even farrowing in full darkness has little beneficial impact in reducing savaging and also may contravene welfare law or high quality assurance standards.

Additional Measures

1) Sedate any kind of gilt showing signs of savaging throughout or simply after farrowing utilizing Stresnil (Elanco animal Health)

2) provide pain killers (analgesics) during farrowing process for gilts showing indicators of aggression (eg Metacam, Boehringer Ingelheim)

3) Place reduced off Wellington boot over the snout of wild gilts to act as a muzzle. A piece of baler twining threaded with holes in the height of the boot deserve to be tied behind the ears of the gilt but ensure that is no tied as well tight to reason damage and also do not leave that on because that too long that the impedes eating and drinking. (some proprietary dog muzzels produced for some of the large breeds that dogs may be adaptable for gilts)

4) Put solitary rabbits in to gilt pens for 4 - 8 hours prior come farrowing to gain gilts used to little creatures moving roughly close to your head (Warning: sometimes the rabbit might be savaged)