Pot Bellied Pigs/Bottle feeding
We rescued two pot bellied piglets who are 6 days old. We are currently bottle feeding them but read your article about the dangers of bottle feeding and to pan feed pigs. Was wondering how to get babies this young to pan feed? These are pot bellied piglets. Also, how much should they be eating and how often?
Teaching babies to pan feed is messy, so choose a location that's easy to clean or requires no cleaning (like outside). Make the space fairly small. Use a shallow pan and room temperature or slightly warm formula. Goat milk and sow replacement formula are good.
Put the hungry piglets in the space with the shallow dish of formula. Most piglets will figure it out on their own quickly. You can tap your finger in the formula, then use it to guide their little noses to the pan. You can also put a few pieces of old bread in the formula. Bread is not really a good thing to feed pigs on a regular basis, but it's texture often helps babies learn to eat from a pan.
At 6 days old, I would let them eat as much as they want, and feed them about 4 times a day. When they are about 3 weeks old, start dissolving a few youth or starter pellets into the formula, and every day add more and more pellets until it't like cream of wheat cereal. By 6 weeks they will be able to eat other foods, but they may not be interested in eating anything else until they are closer to 8 weeks old. That's the age when Momma pig would wean them, and they'd need to learn to eat other food anyway
When piglets nurse, they root on Mommas belly to encourage milk production. This is a deeply hard wired behavior. They can't root much while drinking from a pan or bottle, but they still are driven to root. Piglets raised by Momma pig usually stop this nursing/rooting when they are weaned, but piglets weaned early may continue until they are almost 6 months old