The Farrowing Crate Pig Stall
A farrowing crate or pig stall is a small metal cage where the pregnant sows stay for weeks, usually from a week before giving birth until their piglets wean three to four weeks later.
The farrowing unit is the most expensive building in the sow unit but a significant one. Its important roles are it should be able to provide comfort for the sow and the newborn piglets as well as accommodate the staff while carrying out management procedures.
The farrowing crate’s main objective is to deliver as many piglets with a high weaning weight as possible. Advancement in technology, thermal environment, and management plays a vital role in considering an effective and efficient farrowing unit.
There are many farrowing crates for sale that comes as a boost and ease creator as a pig rearing tool for use by sows and piglets.
The metal frame of pig farrowing crate dimensions is some centimeters bigger than that of the sow’s body, which restricts her movements, making it hard to turn around, step forward, or backward.
It results in frequently rubbing against the bars when standing up and lying down. Beside her cage, there is a creep area usually around 50-100cm*2m in size for her piglets. The floor is hard concrete, and in substitute for the warmth of their mother’s body, there is some form of heat either mats are used or heat lamps.
The piglets can reach the sow’s teats to suck, but the sow, in return, has inaccessibility from moving close to them and ends up cleaning them by the bars of the cage.
Considerations for an Ideal Farrowing Unit
On ordinary occasions, one farrowing room per sow batch is sufficient, but in herds more than 1500 sows, it is worthwhile to have two farrowing rooms per batch for cleaning purposes to be more accessible.
Control of temperature in the farrowing unit is significant since two types of animals with entirely different temperature demands house in the same place, and the task force is not that easy.
For instance, the newborn piglet requires a temperature of 34 C at birth and reduced to 28-30 C at the weaning period while that of the sow is a temperature of 20-22 C at farrowing and 15-16 C at 3-4 weeks after farrowing as milk production and feed intake take its peaks.
Noise is another consideration and should be below 85Db(A). It is so because the nursing and suckling pattern might be disturbed, and milk production smaller for sows when exposed to similar or higher noise levels; hence noise from ventilation fans should be considered.
Designs to Consider while Setting up a Farrowing Unit
The farrowing crate comes in a wide variety of designs. A heated creep area is a requirement when it comes to the temperature requirement of the piglets.
This design allows inspection of the piglets to be easy, and effortless cleaning, as well as a warm surface for the piglets, is provided. Still, for the sow, the environment is unfavorable because it is extra heat in the room. Cooling is required during warm periods to reduce the adverse effects of temperature on sow feed intake and milk production.
The second important feature of the farrowing unit is the farrowing stall, which controls the body movement of the sow while lying down. The recommended pen designs are 2.7*1.8m to accommodate prolific modern breeds. The pig farrowing crate dimensions should be 200-210 cm long and an adjustable width from 35 up to 90cm.
The adjustable width is to provide space for the piglets as they grow. The farrowing stall should be horizontal to allow easy access to the sow and bottom bar with fingers which must not restrict suckling and nursing behavior. The floor must be non-slippery so that the sow and the piglets are not injured.
Factors to Consider while Setting a Farrowing Crate
work surfaces and floors should be non-porous, easy to clean materials that dry quickly. Easy drainage access should also be a consideration to avoid pooling of liquids and free of cracks to prevent harboring infections.
An actual farrowing house should contain five to six farrowing pens considering the number of sows on the farm. Pen house should be between 43-50 feet long and about 13 feet in width.
Each pen should contain a farrowing crate where the sow is kept from one week before birth through 35 days after delivery for sufficient weaning. Creep feeding is an essential element in the optimum growth of the pigs.
A creep area will be, therefore be a necessity. Creep areas are generally 2 feet wide to accommodate both heat mats and large litters while helps in preventing deaths in case of crushing. Passages in front and behind the pens should be there for easy access to the piglets without necessarily climbing from one pen to the other.
Adequate ventilation is required to properly cool and ventilate the house. The design of your farrowing pens and crates are essential to the livelihood of your sows and piglets as farrowing pens are known to help in reducing the death rate.
Benefits of Having a Farrowing Crate
Aggressive gilts tend to eat their piglets after giving birth to them. To reduce this, the presence of a farrowing crate helps in preventing such disasters.
The mother tends to step on her piglets while moving around after delivery. Other cases end up sleeping on her babies, which leads to the death of most of the babies. Hence, the presence of the farrowing crates prevents such occurrences.
Births in Wallow
Delivering the piglets in the warrows occurs when a pregnant sow has the full freedom to walk around and may end up giving birth in the warrow, which can result in the death of the babies. Therefore having a farrowing crate helps prevent this type of incident.
It is common for piglets to bite other piglets, especially when they are about to wean, and when they are crated, this may not happen at all.
Piglets tend to eat filth and drink urine when in search of water, and with a well designed farrowing crate, they won’t be able to access the feces and urine.
A pig farrowing crate
To improve the survival rate of piglets, we need to invest in well-designed pig farming equipment, and that is a farrowing crate, and this, in turn, provides a safe and comfortable environment for the sows for childbirth and breeding. Therefore, if you want to turn your business into a profitable one, then you need to consider an ideal pig farrowing crate as well as a stall.
A fully slatted Farrowing Crate