How Many Piglets Can a Pig Have?

Have you ever wondered or imagined what happens when pigs get pregnant? Like humans, mother pigs develop and carry their babies inside their bellies. The pregnancy of pigs; and the development of the baby pigs during the pregnancy is a fascinating process. 

For this reason, in this article, we answer some of the basic questions regarding this topic. 

How many piglets can a pig have? A well-nourished sow (female pig) can carry at least ten piglets per litter. Pigs can get pregnant up to twice per year, so they can have at least 20 piglets per year. The highest number of piglets a sow has been known to carry was between 13-16. 

How many piglets can a pig have in a lifetime?

The average number of piglets a sow can produce in her lifetime has been estimated as 41-64. (2, 5) This number has been shown to vary by herd and type of pig.

How Many Piglets Can a Pig Have

How Many Teats Does a Sow Have?

The nipples of female pigs are called teats. An average sow has 12-14 teats, with 14 being the most common number. The teats appear on the pig’s belly in pairs and are located on parallel lines on opposite sides of its belly. 

During the end of the sow’s pregnancy, a fluid called colostrum is created in the teats. 

Just as it does with human babies, colostrum will nourish the newborn piglet until the pig can produce milk. 

The teats are long and thin at the beginning of a sow’s birthing years. This shape is the best for the piglet to grasp and suck on. (As sows get older, their sow’s teats become wider, thicker, and shorter. These changes mean the baby pig will have more difficulty grasping the teat. A much older sow may become unable to express milk from the teats.)

 At the time of birth, a piglet must suckle and drink colostrum within one hour. They will continue to feed from the teats hourly. 

How to Tell If a Pig Is Done Giving Birth?

After the first piglet comes out of the pig, the others will follow it one at a time. After the last piglet comes out, the sow’s body will expel the afterbirth. 

The entire process usually takes 2-3 hours. The sow normally does not need manual help during farrowing (birth). 

How Long Are Pigs Pregnant for?

Pigs are pregnant for three months, three weeks, and three days, totaling 114 days.

Pig Pregnancy Stages

A pig’s pregnancy progresses in the following stages:

Day 0-15 On the first day a pig begins her “estrous” (mating cycle), and she begins to show signs of “heat” (signals to show attraction to the boar.) 

Ovulation (egg production) begins 24-48 hours after she goes into heat. Fertilized embryos (eggs that the boars’ sperm have fertilized) change in shape and become longer. 

The embryos then travel to find a place on the lining of the mother’s uterus. 

The embryos attach to the uterus on days 12-15. At least 4 of the sow’s fertilized eggs must connect to the uterus for a pregnancy to continue. 

Each developing baby pig has its placenta; it will grow and develop in its placenta. Those placentas will then attach to the uterus. 

A sow’s uterus can become very crowded when the placentas ultimately grow, which limits the amount of uterine space available. T

The crowding of the placentas will be the main factor in how many piglets the sow will be able to produce. 

Day 13-30  All the placentas begin to expand around days 27- 40. The sow can be tested to see if she is pregnant on day 30. 

The hormones involved in pregnancy can cause sows to become aggressive toward other sows. So, if a pregnant sow has not been living near another pregnant sow before she gets pregnant, it’s a good idea to keep the pregnant sow separate from any other pregnant sow. 

Prevention of fighting is essential since sows’ fighting has been shown to cause fetal displacement (the de-attachment of the placenta and/or baby pig.) 

Day 30-77 This is when the organs begin to develop. On days 35-45, the bones begin to calcify (harden). At this stage, the growing babies may sometimes die due to poor maternal nutrition, trauma ( possibly from de-attachment during a fight between sows), or other types of poor handling by the caretaker of the pigs. 

When the fetal pig (developing baby pig) dies, its body can dry up and harden within the placenta. 

When the sow later gives birth to the piglets who live, these dried, dead babies will be expelled. (They are then referred to as “mummies.”) 

Day 77-90 This is the final period of placental expansion. The placenta becomes its largest size, as does the fetal pig. 

The sow’s teats begin to swell since they are getting ready to give milk to her baby pigs. Inside the teats, the colostrum and milk are being made. 

During this period of time, some pig caretakers will give the sows extra food. They do this to help the sow get ready for the exertion of the upcoming birth. This is called “bump feeding.”

Day 90-114 The fetal pig is now completely developed but not completely ready to live outside the mother pig. 

The show begins to leak colostrum and milk from her teats and gets ready to give birth. 

The actual birth is called “farrowing.” About 24 hours before she gives birth, a sow will become restless and begin to create a “nest” of soft hay to serve as the place where she will give birth. 

Pig caretakers have learned that gently rubbing the pig’s side will encourage her to lie on her side and relax enough to give birth. 

About 1-2 hours before she gives birth, a rush of bloody fluid will come from her vagina. The final event before birth will be the expulsion of green pellets. After that, the first piglet will be born. 

Conclusion: How Many Piglets Can a Pig Have?

A pig becomes pregnant after going into heat” (estrous). The pig’s pregnancy goes through stages like a human pregnancy. A sow then gives birth to about ten piglets per litter, 20 per year. The piglets are fed by sucking on the cow’s teats. Over a lifetime, a sow can average total births of about 41-60 piglets.

I do encourage you to keep learning about the breeding process of pigs, if your pig is pregnant and you don’t have too much experience I encourage you to seek local help.