Why do piglets need colostrum?
Colostrum contains first energy and energy is very important because without energy these piglets will shiver and die. Second, antibodies. Piglets are born without antibodies and they depend totally on the antibodies they have received from their mother through the colostrum. And third, other kinds of cells and ingredients that help the piglet to become a good finisher.
What is a good udder?
To assess the quality of a mammary gland after birth you can palpate. The glands should be very smooth and also loose, don't have any lesions or hard particles. This sow is a 'problem sow' because her udder is too heavy and also the crate is not well adjusted. And nipples are hard to reach for these piglets. The risk for this sow is that she will produce too much milk in the next couple of days. She has a big udder, lots of colostrum and can develop lot of milk. If so she will have too much milk for her piglets, get a full udder which is very painful for the sow. The result is that she won't accept her piglets to suckle.
How to get weak piglets to the udder to suckle colostrum?
New born piglets chill very easily. They do not have any reserves when they are born to heathen them up by themselves. So they need to have colostrum and milk to get their right temperature. If you find a piglet shivering in the corner of the farrowing crate you can put it under the lamp to heathen up. But the best is to place them under the udder to drink and get the energy from the colostrum. To give some extra support to small shivering piglets you can give them an energy booster, like this.
How to make sure that all newborn piglets get enough colostrum?
This sow, got 20 beautiful piglets. But how are we making sure that all of these piglets get enough colostrum? Use the pig suckling method. We mark the first piglets that are born to know these the piglets that are separated during one hour, an hour and a half and have drunk the first colostrum. This way we make sure that also the last born piglets get enough colostrum. After one hour, an hour and a half we switch the piglets out of the basket with five other piglets with a good filled belly. This way we make sure that all of the piglets get enough colostrum. If, at the end of the day of birth, I'll find the sow laying like this and piglets sleeping between her legs, I know the colostrum intake went well.