The above piglet pile is watched over by their guardian angel Saturn. They are lying on hay in the warm morning sun light – a perfect place for an after breakfast snooze. The littlest ones are just a week or so old while some of the larger ones are over four months old. Typically you’ll often find the sows and boar also in the pile as well. That makes the size range go from about 10 pounds to 600 pounds per pig. They all get along grand. Often you’ll find little piglets sleeping on top of the big ones.
On occasion you’ll even find a sheep or several bedded down with the pigs as well. The gander typically sleeps on top of the pig pile – watching over his charges. At the time I took this picture he was off in the field following around some of the other piglets.
We keep our herd together as a large group rather than segregating by age as is generally done. They naturally spread them selves out over the pastures but often will also come together as a group, especially at nap time or if I call them in for a treat. This works very well for us. All the pigs and other animals know each other – the social order is well established so things stay peaceful. It makes for happier animals which makes for less stress and thus better quality meat.
The mixed group also means less work for us – it is much easier to pasture them all together rather than having to worry about keeping individuals separated. We can mob graze more efficiently when needed, they do intensive rotational grazing better which is best for the pasture and it utilizes resources and time well.
Last year with fewer sows I had wondered if we could keep doing this as the herd grows. This year with eight big sows, twelve upcoming gilts and the boar plus all the growers and piglets it is still working very well. As our herd increases we’ll see how this goes. I like the way we’re doing it and hope we can continue the mixed herd.
By the way, as way of introduction, I’ve mentioned Saturn before but I don’t think he got to have a good photo yet. He is the son of Kia who has appeared in many photos. He and his aunt Kita are great buddies. At this point Saturn is the largest of our dogs weighing almost 90 lbs making him nearly twice the size of his mother and a little bigger than his dad.
“Once is a coincidence which is more than enough for a conspiracy theorist.”
Low 36째F, High 56째F, Rain, Sleet, Snow, Hail & Sunshine. Totally indecisive wishy-washy weather. :)