4. Cross-fostering

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Optimal usages of sow milk

Why do we cross-foster?

The goal of cross-fostering is that you make sure that every piglet has a functional teat after the colostral phase. The best way of cross-fostering is working in a protocoled way by register every cross-fostered piglet. Proper registration and evaluation of your cross fostering is very important

What is the best time for cross fostering?

The best time to cross-foster piglets is approximately 24 hours after birth. In that way you make sure that every piglets has colostrum from their own mothers and you are in time before the colostrum phase is ending.

Which piglets should you choose for cross-fostering?

The best way to determine which piglets you have to cross-foster is by starting to count the functional teats of the sow. The goal is, to have as much piglets with the sows as there are functional teats. It is not necessary to make all the litters uniform in weight. The best is to cross-foster big piglets as the smaller piglets have the best chance for survival at their own mother. In case you have some very, very small piglets it should be the best to take them away and bring them together to one sow.

What's a good method to monitor cross-fostering?

When is your cross-fostering successful? The best way to register cross fostering is on a sow chart. Evaluation on cross-fostering can be done the best by using the clothing spin system. When starting cross-fostering, write down the number of the sow on the piglet back. In this way you can always find the cross-fostering piglet. The white clothing spin means; this sow has only her own piglets. On this chart you can see that this sow received two piglets from another sow which is also represented by the blue clothing spin. Blue means piglets from one other sow in this litter. This sow receives a red pin which means she has a mixed litter. As you can see 10 piglets were taken off and then 2 were placed in this litter, another 2 and another 3.

How to deal with very large litters?

The second way of cross-fostering is when you have a sow with a very large litter, like 20 or 22 piglets. Than cross-fostering of piglets is the next step of split suckling. Take out one of the groups who was in the basket and bring them to another sow. Always mark the cross-fostering piglet in a way you can check the next day whether your cross-fostering has been successful. Cross-fostering is successful when you are able to make sure that every piglet has a functional teat and there are no nipples left. Something has gone wrong when it is necessary to take out piglets the second and the third day cause they do don't get enough milk.