Kita was standing up trying to figure out why I had put a piglet up on the beam. I hadn’t, those were Hope’s gloves but they had the smell of the piglets on them and were roughly the right shade and size to be a piglet. Once Kita poked them with her nose she realized they weren’t a piglet and lost interest.
Kita attends virtually all the farrowings. She does have ulterior motives but her presence with the sows when they’re out in the field keeps away predators. Kita also cleans up the dead. That is part of her job. She’ll never hurt a live, healthy viable piglet. Those she defends voraciously as Petra, another sow, found out when she came too close while Mouse was nursing. I think Petra was just curious but Kita wasn’t interested in her being so close to Mouse. Kita’s reward, perhaps her motivation, is that she quickly eats up any piglets that are still born or die. This means they are not left to attract flies, crows, foxes, coyotes or other scavengers who might harm healthy piglets.
How, you might ask, do I have any way of knowing that Kita doesn’t eat live piglets??? Well, the fact that we have piglets, and large live litters, rather proves that. With Kita’s appetite she could easily scarf them all down, perhaps in one sitting. She doesn’t. The existence of piglets proves her selectiveness. And no, it’s not the sows protecting the piglets from Kita, they don’t. They obey her every growl and poke.
On the other hand I have repeatedly seen her defending the piglets. She does not care for strangers getting near her livestock. It isn’t just the new borns that attract her attention. Kita goes beyond that as she regularly checks her charges from piglets to growers to the big boars and sows in the main herd. I’ve gone out at midnight at times and run into her in the dark making her rounds. I’m glad she knows me well.
There is one piglet in this set of eleven that Kita said won’t make it. She was correct. It was far smaller than the the others and not nursing or walking yet. She removed it from the pile after a while despite my repeatedly putting it back on a teat. We finally brought it in the house to give it fluids but it was dead the next day. Kita was right. After having mid-wifed so many piglets she has a good sense of this.
Outdoors: 28°F/25°F Sunny, 1.5″ Snow in the early morning
Farm House: 50°F/47°F no fire
Tiny Cottage: 54°F/47°F plumbing planning & piecing