Piglets are popping out and they certainly picked some nice weather.
Early this morning Little Pig farrowed her third litter of piglets. Ten healthy pink young’uns – five gilts (girls) and five boars (boys). They were actually born in the first of the hill dens snuggled in with about half of the other larger pigs.
All were fine despite her giving birth in the communal sleeping area. Usually the sows go off in the the brush to get a little privacy. This is the first time that we have had farrowing in the winter. I hadn’t expected her to farrow yet so I had not opened up the new farrowing spaces we had built. I think she was happy to move into the new space. She certainly sounded content as she nursed in the picture above.
After I fed the herd, and while Little Pig was distracted by food, I moved her piglets into one of the 666 Welded Wire Mesh farrowing greenhouse spaces. When I got done Little Pig, all 700 or so pounds of her, just wanted to lie down for a snooze back in the hill den. I was not able to tempt her to follow me with a treat or by holding a piglet out. She seemed to say, “Fine, I see you’ve got them under control, you take care of them while I take a nap.”
About two hours later I think her milk was backing up and she was more willing to follow me out through the gate along with Big Pig. Little Pig checked out the new accommodations, went into the farrowing greenhouse and settled down to nurse the piglets. All were well having been cared for by Kita in the mean time.
Meanwhile, Big Pig mozied down to the other set of three farrowing spaces and checked them out. After inspecting each in turn she chose the largest one and arranged the hay to her liking. I would not be surprised if she drops a set of piglets tonight. She is already letting down milk, as is Long Nose. Tomorrow I will encourage two more of the sows to investigate the new spaces and that will spread them out more.
On an interesting side note, someone once asked if I wasn’t worried about Kita, who looks so wolf like, eating the baby piglets. The answer is simply no. Killer Kita is very gentle with her livestock. She guards them well. She also shares in the harvest. She is very clear that live baby chicks, lambs, piglets, puppies, etc are to be guarded and protected. She does cleanup – i.e., eat – the dead ones. But as a guardian dog that is part of her job. If she let the dead ones lie around they would attract predators, vermin and insects which could spread disease. Kita and Saturn take their jobs so seriously that they even keep the other livestock dogs away from the piglets with body blocks and warning growls. This morning, after I had settled the piglets into their, new space Kita moved in while Little Pig napped and Kita didn’t even want me near the piglets. Fortunately, she is well trained and a word from me made her back down and stop blocking. She did her job and released to mama when Little Pig returned.
Don’t pet the sweaty things. -M.K.