Pregnancy and birth vary from species to species, but one consistency is that a newborn needs its mother for such basic needs as nourishment and warmth. Baby pigs are no different; they rely upon their mother's milk and their bodies for heat, as piglets cannot manufacture their own body heat at birth. If you're suddenly the human provider of a baby pig, it's important to know how to provide the nourishment your piglet needs.
Fostering baby piglets and hand-rearing them isn't for the faint of heart; piglets are frail and tiny; they require constant care. While bottle-feeding is necessary for proper nourishment, keeping piglets warm is equally important. Piglets are unable to regulate their body temperature until they are about 2 weeks old, so prior to that it's necessary to provide a heat lamp or heating pad for your bovine babies. Keep their immediate space at a temperate between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first few hours of the pigs' lives, and reduce the heat to 75 to 90 degrees for approximately two weeks. Place the piglet in a playpen or animal carrier, and cover the sides with towels or blankets to minimize drafts.
If a nursing sow isn't available, feeding piglets is going to be up to you. Ideally, feed your piglet sow's milk or goat's milk replacer, available at animal health and feed stores; if you're unable to acquire this, feed condensed milk, watered down by a third. In a pinch, feed your pig cow's milk, but only using the following recipe:
Combine 600 milliliters of whole milk, an egg yolk, a quarter-teaspoon of citric acid and a half-teaspoon of cod liver oil. Do not feed the formula long term -- use this option only until a milk replacer becomes available. Regardless of what you feed, heat the liquid to the piglets' body temperature which should be about 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Baby piglets will eat only 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk at a feeding, but you'll need to feed a pig every three to four hours for the first few days, and then three to four times daily, gradually increasing his intake daily.
Your baby piglet may fight the bottle -- he'll know he isn't eating from his mother's teat. Be patient; eventually hunger will win out and he'll take the bottle. Always thoroughly sterilize the bottle and nipple. Your baby has no immune system, and he isn't benefiting from the colostrum he would get from his mother. Bacteria from unclean bottles can seriously harm your little piglet.
Weaning From the Bottle
After a few days, your piglet will be ready to be weaned from the bottle and will be able to drink his milk from a pan. Use the same care with sterilization. He's already acclimated to the bottle, so be patient when introducing him to eating from a pan. Dip his nose into the milk. He may try to bite it at first, but eventually he'll begin to drink.
Introducing Solid Food
Once your piglet reaches 7 to 10 days of age, begin introducing solid food. A specialized piglet food is best, which is available at animal feed retailers. Your piggy won't be ready to be weaned off his milk until he weighs 12 to 14 pounds, which should occur once he reaches the end of his first month.