Sow surprises farmers by birthing 21 piglets

By Lee Li-fa and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 4

A pig farmer in Pingtung County’s Linluo Township (麟洛) on Monday said the he and his wife were surprised when a sow gave birth to 21 piglets on Thursday last week.

The two have been raising pigs for more than 20 years and have not seen a litter of 21 piglets before, said the farmer, surnamed Wu (吳).

The family is feeding the piglets by hand, as the sow does not have enough teats for the entire litter, he said.

The three-year-old sow is of an unknown breed and while she has 16 teats as opposed to an average pig’s six or eight, nothing unusual had happened in her previous three birthings, he said, adding that the family is happy with the extra piglets.

Although the litter was twice as large that of other sows in their pen, each piglet on average weighed 1.8kg, which is normal, Wu’s wife, Hsu Chia-chen, (徐加真) said.

Porcine fecundity varies according to breed, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology associate professor of animal science Weng Ruey-chee (翁瑞奇) said, adding that the most prolific breed in the world is the Meishan, which holds a record for birthing 32 piglets in a single litter.

Most Taiwanese hogs are a mix of the Yorkshire, Danish landrace and Duroc breeds, he said, adding that Yorkshire sows, which tend to be fecund, are bred an average of 2.4 times per year after reaching eight months of age.

Sows are culled after being bred an average of 4.8 times, as fodder and other costs begin to overtake profits, he said.