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Jun 17th 2019 Back to latest news

Do Pigs Build Nests and other facts
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Do Pigs Build Nests? you bet they do. The humble pig has had a bad wrap in the English language with “pigging out” and  you think. Because they are naturally inquisitive, as well,  they are  completely trainable. That is part of the reason so many people just love a pig.

Recently one of our pigs has had piglets and we wanted to share an insight into one of our favourite amazing animals.

How long is a pig pregnant for?

The gestation period of a pig (the female is known as a sow) is months, weeks and days. Being so easy to remember you would think it is easy to calculate the due date. Not always so easy to spot because the boar (the male pig) does like to keep practicing!

Do pigs build nests?

Pigs do build nests to give birth in and her new born piglets instinctively know that their nest is the safest place to be.

At Farmer Palmers our team keep a close eye on a pregnant pig and bring her indoors a few days before she should be due. She is given straw and materials to make her nest, usually in the corner of her enclosure. In the wild they would make elaborate structures of grasses, twigs, and branches. If no materials are available it could be a simple hollow in the ground filled with grass.

It is important to satisfy this highly motivated functional behavioral need because

  • There is a positive effect on her maternal hormones and prepares the sow for farrowing
  • It can influence her maternal behavior

This activity will happen in the hours before she is due to give birth.  This is often in the late afternoon or evening and you may see her become very active and

  • carrying mouthfuls of material to her chosen farrowing area or
  • snouting out a hollow in the dirt.

This is an important indicator of where the sow is planning to give birth.

How many Piglets can a Sow have?

A fully grown sow, in good condition and healthy can be pregnant with up to 14 piglets.

Most sows ovulate up to 20 eggs, of which 90% get fertilized, but during pregnancy 30 – 40% of the embryos sadly, naturally die. The average size of a litter is 10 piglets

We love the way they are such great mothers and lay down to let her ravenous bundles of trouble piglets feed. They can expereince sore or blocked teats in the same way humans expereince difficulties breast feeding.

Who decides to stop the piglets milk

Mum definitely decides when she has had enough and the decision is usually linked to the weights of the piglets. If they are doing well she’ll often wean her  young before 10 weeks. She increases the time away from her piglets during the day but stays with them at night. The piglets all huddle together for warmth and sleeping.  The suckling will oven stop over a 24 hour period.

Useful facts to know about Pigs

  1. Adore sleeping inpigs are intelligent and clever
  2. Yawn when tired
  3. They are tidy and poo in one area of their pen
  4. Can not sweat to cool down
  5. Make their own sunscreen from mud wallows
  6. Can blow bubbles if their noses are underwater
  7. Quickly learn how to operate their automatic drinkers in their pens outside
  8. They love to untie shoe laces
  9. Pigs are playful and love a belly rub
  10. They are caring mothers who also love cake!

Why do we use the word Pig to describe people and things?

Phases and references to pigs are often used in our everyday language. Ever heard of happy as a pig is mud? Simply because pigs love to wallow in mud pools to keep cool.
A pig of a job means it is very difficult
It’s been a pig of a week means it’s been tough.
Pigging out is a criticism for eating too much a one meal.
When pigs fly is used to say that one thinks that something will never happen
If you call someone a pig, it is often meant in a negative way, especially if you are referring to being a greedy pig.