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You need a dry, draft free enclosure to farrow your kunekunes in. It doesn't need to be fancy but your success could depend on your easy layout.

A creep. A corner of the barn can be blocked off for the piglets that the sow cannot get in.

A safety heat lamp. By hanging the lamp inside the creep the piglets have a safe zone to sleep in and stay warm without their dam accidentally sleeping or stepping on them. Later you can add feed and water for the piglet that the sow can't eat! I only recommend Prima Heat lamps from Premier One Fencing.

Crush rails. Placing boards off the floor around the walls of the farrowing room will allow the piglets a place to escape to safely if the sow lies down fast. This is especially important in the first few days.

Not everyone follows a vaccination protocol, but unless you have a closed herd without any pigs leaving and none coming in I would urge you to.

I use injectable iron, wormer & vaccines. It is my opinion that they are far more effective than any "by the mouth" product.

The following is what I use on my farm & I do not advocate you use it but to check with your local veterinarian on what works best for you in your area.

Piglets- 2 or 3 days old Iron Dextran Injection 200, might be known as Ferrodex. Follow directions.

Piglets- 5 & 7 weeks old Rhino-Shield TX4 Swine Vaccine, 1 ML at 5 weeks, 2 ML at 7 weeks.

Piglets- Wormer, Dectomax or Ivomectin. 7 weeks and again no later than two weeks.

Breeding age Stock, gilts, boars & sows. Farrowsure Gold B every 6 months.

For piglets I use disposable a 3ML syringe with a 22 gage needle. For adults I use an Allflex Repeater Syringe with a Slap Shot.

I usually order online through Valley Vet, QC Supply or Jeffers Pet.

 I have people ask what feed I use. Kunekunes have unique requirements

due to their slow maturing and thick pretty hair! Our local Feed store has added

extra selenium to my feed along with oil and whey for their coat.

My only complaint is that they are not able to acquire non GMO.

  Even though kunekunes can survive on grass alone if they have it all year,

they will have a prettier shaped head and body with the grains and minerals in the

pellets. I feed two cups twice a day. In the summer they have both fescue grasses

and bermuda. I plant forage spring and fall, white clover, 7 top turnip, rape, rye or

winter wheat. In the winter I supplement with Chaffhaye or Alfalfa hay.

  Fruits are a treat, I try to gather apples, pumpkins etc., along with various

vegetables. Never meat or mixed table scraps.

Iron injections for piglets

Compiled by Debra Allen

There seems to be a lot of discussion on the merits of giving iron shots to piglets. Here is some information I hope you find helpful.

Iron is essential to all animals for the prevention of anemia. When an animal is iron-deficient, the animal is considered anemic. Iron is a building block for hemoglobin; anemia is a condition marked by decreased hemoglobin in the blood. Hemogloblin, found in red blood cells, are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to body tissues and for returning carbon dioxide from tissues to the lungs to be exhaled. Iron is also part of many other proteins in the body.

Iron deficiency may vary from a borderline chronic anemia to acute anemia. Signs of chronic anemia are poor growth, listlessness, rough hair coat, wrinkled skin and a paleness of the mucous membranes. A characteristic sign of a more acute anemia is labored breathing or a spasmodic movement of the diaphragm muscles following exercise, and this is referred to as “thumps.” In the most acute state, fast growing pigs may die suddenly from a shortage of oxygen. Anemia also lowers the resistance of the pig to disease and respiratory problems, and enteritis (diarrhea) may appear more frequently in chronically anemic pigs.

Necropsy findings in anemic pigs include enlargement of the heart and spleen, fluid in the chest and abdomen, and thin watery blood. Paleness of the mucous membranes may also be seen.

Reasons piglets can develop anemia:

Iron deficiency develops rapidly in nursing pigs reared in confinement because of (1) low body storage of iron in the newborn pig, (2) low iron content of sow’s colostrum and milk, (3) elimination of contact with iron from soil, and (4) the rapid growth rate of the nursing pig. Let’s consider the impact of each of these causes of iron deficiency.

(1)Low body storage of iron in the newborn pig.

The baby pig is born with a total of about 40mg of iron in his body, most of which is present in the form of hemoglobin in blood and storage forms in the liver. With an iron requirement of about 7mg daily to maintain blood hemoglobin level in the normally growing baby pig, it is apparent that without supplemental iron, body stores will not last very long. Attempts to increase body iron stores in the fetal pig by administering large amounts of iron to the sow in late gestation, either in her feed or by injection, have not been successful.

(2)Low iron content of sow’s colostrum and milk.

Sow’s colostrum and milk is a good source of all nutrients the baby pig is known to require, with the exception of iron. The concentration of iron in colostrum is seldom greater than 2ppm, and in milk is lower, averaging about 1ppm. Because of the low concentration of iron in sow’s milk, the baby pig cannot obtain more than about 1mg of iron daily from this source. This falls far short of his requirement for 7mg daily. Attempts to increase significantly the iron concentration in sow’s milk by feeding high levels of various forms of iron in the sow’s late gestation and lactation diet or by injecting the sow with a large amount of iron-dextran late in gestation or during lactation have not been successful.

(3)Elimination of contact with iron from soil.

The baby pig is equipped with a snout with which he is able to root almost as soon as he is born. Thus, under natural conditions he “could” obtain his iron from the soil. When the pig is placed on concrete or reared in confinement in a central farrowing facility, he is denied this opportunity.

(4)Rapid growth rate of the nursing pig.

Compared to other domestic mammals, the baby pig has a tremendous ability to grow. The baby piglet is capable of increasing its birth weight 1000% during the first 6 weeks of life. This rapid growth of the nursing pig with the resulting increase in plasma volume demands a high intake of iron to maintain adequate hemoglobin.

Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia

There are numerous ways in which supplemental iron may be administered to baby pigs either (1) orally (by mouth) or (2) parenterally (by injection) to meet their needs for iron. (Much of the oral iron is not absorbed and is excreted in the feces.)

Oral iron. Supplemental iron may be administered orally through (a) placing soil in the farrowing pen, (b) swabbing the sow’s udder with an iron solution, (c) dosing the pig with iron pills, paste or liquids, (d) placing liquid, moss, meal, pellet or block preparations in the creep area, or (e) feeding high levels of iron in the sow’s diet and allowing pigs access to sow’s feed and feces.

Soil. This can be an effective method of providing iron if the soil is replaced frequently and is free of swine parasite eggs. The disadvantages of this method are the labor involved and the difficulty in obtaining soil when the ground is frozen.

Udder application. If an iron solution is swabbed on the sow’s udder daily throughout lactation, this will effectively prevent anemia. However, the labor required is usually discouraging.

Weekly administration of iron pills, paste or liquid preparations will prevent anemia. Disadvantages of this method are the labor involved in the repeated dosing and lack of assurance that the pig has consumed the dose.

Placing iron preparations in the creep. A number of iron preparations on the market are designed to be placed in the creep area of the farrowing pen. These consist of iron solutions with special dispensers, iron salts mixed with sphagnum or peat moss, iron salts mixed with sweetened energy sources in meal or pellet form, and iron blocks designed to be fastened to the dividing wall between adjacent farrowing pens. Most of these commercial iron preparations are quite effective in preventing anemia if they are properly placed in the creep area where pigs will consume them. The effectiveness of the iron blocks is questionable since some of the pigs may not consume enough of the blocks to obtain the required amount of iron.

The chemical form of the iron used in an oral iron source is very important. Ferric oxide and ferrous carbonate have frequently been used in commercial trace mineral mixes for young pigs, but they are very poorly available forms of iron. Ferric oxide is commonly known as “rust”. A rusty water pan as a source of iron will not provide enough soluble iron to help.

Parenteral iron. Supplemental iron to prevent anemia may also be administered by injection. For iron injections to be effective, one must use (a) the proper form of iron, (b) the proper amount of iron, and (c) the proper method of iron administration. Sanitary procedures should be used to avoid production of abscesses.

Form of iron. The form of iron must be one that (1) is effectively utilized for hemoglobin formation by the pig throughout the nursing period from a single injection, (2) is compatible with fluids and tissues of the body and in no way toxic at necessary levels of administration, (3) does not cause pain at the site of injection, and (4) can be administered in a minimal volume of fluid which is of the proper viscosity to allow the use of a small needle and yet not result in excessive “run back.” Iron-dextran and iron-dextrin complexes, when properly produced, meet all these criteria and are the best forms on the market.

Amount of iron. The proper amount of iron to inject depends on the age at which the pigs will be weaned. If pigs are to be weaned by 3 weeks of age, 100mg of iron is an adequate amount to inject. If pigs are to be weaned beyond 3 weeks of age, 150-200mg of iron should be injected.

Method of iron injection. Although it has been demonstrated that iron injections may be given intramuscularly, intraperitoneally or subcutaneously, the preferred method is intramuscularly. Injection should be in the neck muscle only to prevent staining of usable meat. The site of injection should be precleaned with 70% ethyl alcohol. The injectable iron is drawn into and dispensed from a clean plastic syringe with a 20-gauge disposable needle, 1/2 to 1in. long. To help prevent run back of iron from the injection, the skin may be forced slightly to one side with the thumb just before making the injection. This is called the Z track method. It prevents the medication from leaking out along the injection line and staining more tissue, effectively sealing it in the muscle.

Iron injections may be made any time within the first 3 to 4 days of life.

Another method of preventing iron-deficiency anemia should be mentioned. It is the oral dosing of newborn pigs with irondextran. When the newborn pig receives an oral dose of 100-200 mg of iron from iron-dextran, the iron is effectively absorbed. Recent research indicates that this single dose is nearly as effective as an iron injection if dosage occurs within the first 6 hours of life. However, this method has the disadvantages of a limited dosage period and the likelihood of greater waste of iron-dextran by oral dosing as compared to injection.

We use 1 cc of Iron Dextran 100mg/ml injected into the neck at 3 days of age. (Please be aware that there are commercially available iron dextran products available at dosing levels of 100mg/ml and 200 mg/ml. Check the strength twice before administering.)

My reason is I am assured of my piglets getting the correct dose of iron at the right age. Using soil/creep feeds require the piglet to consume them which might not happen til they are much older, and there is no guarantee that each piglet consumes enough. I also realize that iron toxicity can occur with ingestion of too much iron. I adore each and every piglet born and want them to get the best start in life possible. Iron injections are an inexpensive, accurate way of giving my piglets needed iron.

(Information from Pork Information Gateway, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine)