Sows, female pigs, take care of their piglets by nursing them, providing warmth, and protecting them. They build nests from bedding materials to keep the piglets comfortable, and they nurse them multiple times a day, supplying essential nutrients for their growth. Sows are attentive and protective mothers, ensuring the well-being of their piglets until they are old enough to become more independent.
1. **Nursing:** Sows nurse their piglets to provide them with the crucial nutrients they need for growth and development. They have several teats, usually around 12 to 16, allowing multiple piglets to nurse simultaneously.
2. **Nest Building:** Before giving birth, sows engage in nest-building behaviour. They gather materials like straw, leaves, and other bedding materials to create a warm and comfortable nest for their piglets. This helps protect the piglets from the elements and provides a cozy environment for them to rest.
3. **Protection:** Sows are protective mothers. They often exhibit aggressive behaviours if they perceive a threat to their piglets. This can include charging at or chasing away potential predators or intruders. Sows will also position themselves between their piglets and any perceived danger.
4. **Warmth:** Piglets are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively when they are born, so sows provide warmth by cuddling with them or lying down to allow the piglets to snuggle close. This helps regulate the piglets' body temperature and keeps them comfortable.
5. **Teaching and Nurturing:** Sows teach their piglets important behaviours, such as how to find food and explore their environment. They may root around to expose food sources and encourage piglets to start eating solid food as they grow.
6. **Cleaning and Grooming:** Sows also engage in grooming behaviours to keep their piglets clean. This involves licking the piglets to remove dirt, mucus, or other debris from their bodies.
7. **Social Bonding:** Sows develop a strong social bond with their piglets. This bond is crucial for the piglets' emotional well-being and helps create a sense of security as they explore their surroundings.
As the piglets grow and become more independent, the sow's role gradually shifts from constant care to allowing them more freedom to explore and learn on their own. The maternal behaviours exhibited by sows ensure the survival and well-being of their piglets during the early stages of their lives.