mixing pigs

 

Care is needed because:

1

Pigs will fight whilst they establish their ‘pecking order’.  This happens whenever the group is disturbed.

2

It takes 1-2 days to establish the pecking order, and performance may be compromised during this period.

3

Pigs need time and space to work out their pecking order.  After this, the weaker pig will back down.

For all pigs;

1

Pigs should be kept as much as possible in stable social groups, and mixing at any stage between accommodation types should be kept to a minimum.

2

Avoid mixing in pens where sharp edges to feed troughs and drinkers protrude, and can injure the pigs.

3

Always mix pigs of similar size.

4

As a general rule, never introduce less than 3 pigs into an established larger group.  However, it may be necessary to introduce 1 or 2 sows to dynamic service groups.

5

Low levels of lighting can reduce aggression when mixing.  This must not be used for longer than 1-2 days.

6

Resorting to the use of tranquillisers and masking sprays may indicate that the mixing methods and facilities on your farm are inadequate.

For sows:

1

Allow plenty of space (eg if mixing sows, you need 3.5 m2 per sow) so that there is enough space to get away if chased or threatened.  Sows will mostly chase for less than 2.5 m.

2

Ideally only mix sows at weaning.  Avoid mixing sows 5-21 days after service as this is when the eggs implant and stress can result in high numbers of returns.

3

Use physical barriers in the pen such as big bales or plastic sheeting suspended from the roof.  This allows a beaten pig to get out of sight and quickly ends the fight.

4

Time mixing to fit in with management routines to best allow supervision, however mixing in the evening may be best if you can arrange to be there to oversee this.

5

Use fresh straw at mixing – it acts as a cushion if fighting occurs and increases surface grip.

6

Consider ad lib feeding when mixing.

7

Consider allowing physical contact eg through a gate, between a dynamic main group and a sup-group to be mixed into it, prior to mixing.  This may reduce fighting when they are introduced.

8

Avoid re-mixing groups.  If practical mix sows back into their original groups post weaning.

9

Avoid mixing in any form of cubicle system.  Sows can be trapped easily and injured – consider a specialist mixing pen.

10

Consider breaking up the edge of the lying area with divisions so that sub-groups can have their own areas.

11

Try closing off a section of a large yard system for a few days then penning the sub-group in this area when mixing.  This helps to establish a new territory for the smaller group.