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Shunt Fostering on a Three-Week Batch System Outdoors

26 November 2014, at 12:00am

The aim of shunt, cascade or two-stage fostering is to provide extra suckling capacity when born alive is higher than the number of functioning teats in that batch, according to BPEX in no.10 in its Work Instruction series.


  • Line the fostering box/trolley with clean straw
  • Set a target of how many piglets to leave with sows and gilts, i.e. sows to be left with 11 and gilts with 12 piglets
  • Identify ‘spare’ piglets that need removing from the sows at fostering
  • When this total becomes 10 or 11, a “shunt foster” is carried out

Outline of the Work

Collect up all 'spare' piglets as you cross-foster each day
Identify an older litter from this batch of farrowings, i.e. three or
four days old, remove and place them into the fostering box/trolley
Identify a gilt or low parity sow with a three-week old litter, good body condition
and with no previous health or udder problems, remove her older piglets
Move the older weaned piglets into weaner accommodation or other
suitable holding accommodation until they are ready to be moved off-site
If outdoors, ensure the sow remains with the new litter
by temporarily boarding up the hut
Dose the 'spare' litter and the four-day-old litter with piglet booster
to give them energy until their new suckling pattern is established

November 2014

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