How should sow hysteria be handled during farrowing?

Sometimes during the farrowing process females (especially gilts) become excitable and aggressive toward their offspring. Any piglet the sow can grab will likely be severely injured or killed. In addition, such behavior will usually prolong farrowing. The exact cause of sow hysteria is not known. Small, fat sows with large litters displayed the highest frequency of aggressive behavior in one study. It may help to lower the incidence by moving sows into the farrowing quarters at least 3 days before farrowing. If a female begins to show signs of hysteria, immediately remove all the sow’s piglets from her reach to protect them from injury. Keep them in a warm box nearby and gradually reintroduce one or two piglets at a time to test the sow’s reaction. Many sows accept the piglets after
farrowing is completed. Some continue exhibiting aggression hours later. Sometimes an injection of Oxytocin helps settle the sow. Alternatively, the sow can be muzzled (e.g. dog collar or duct tape) or temporarily blinded with duct tape. Results from a tranquilizer (available from a veterinarian) have been mixed. Tranquilizers sometimes cause the sow to become so relaxed that she stops farrowing.