Signs a Potbelly Pig Is Ready to Have Babies

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The potbelly pig's gestation period is approximately 115 days, or not quite four months. As the time of birth -- known as farrowing in porcines -- approaches, you'll notice some changes in your potbelly pig's behavior indicating that the babies are coming. Potbelly pigs might give birth to only one or two piglets, or as many as 12. Your vet can prepare you for the number of babies to expect by performing an ultrasound.

Physical Changes

A few days before the birth, your pregnant potbelly pig's vulva will swell up. As the due date draws near, you'll notice the pig's teats beginning to swell, forming an indentation called a milk line. Her belly is so large that the teats might hit the ground when she moves. Since piglets are born with teeth, that contact with the ground has a benefit; it actually helps toughen the skin on the nipples. Approximately 12 hours before delivery, the teats might express milk. When you see a discharge from the vulva, that indicates the imminent arrival of piglets.

Nesting Behavior

Your expectant pig becomes restless and displays nesting behavior. She wants to put together a suitable place to give birth, although you should already have a farrowing box at the ready. That's just a large box filled with blankets or towels that your pig and her little ones can comfortably move around in. Place it in a warm, draft-free place away from the general traffic of your home or barn. Your pig should root around in the farrowing box for some time. When she lies down in the box and there's a vaginal discharge, labor is starting.

Urination and Defecation

As she begins feeling the first signs of labor, your mama potbelly will start peeing and pooping. She might also start chewing on various objects. Try to clean her vulva and teats with antibacterial soap prior to the start of labor. This helps protect the piglets as they enter the world.

Labor

Normally, the entire delivery process takes about two hours, with piglets born in 15-minute to 30-minute intervals. The mother might rest for a short time between births. If the entire birthing process takes more than three hours, if the mother strains in strong labor without piglets arriving or if she develops a bad odor from the vulva, call your vet. Once she passes the placenta, all of the piglets have arrived. Since newborn pigs can't regulate body temperature, prepare heat lamps or heating pads. For the first week of life, the temperature in their environment must be at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.