Flo’s Winter Piglets

That is Flo. In that picture she’s in a piggy way. That is to say she’s pregnant. Flo is in fine condition having gained about seventy-five to a hundred pounds during her pregnancy – excellent for such a large lady. This gives her the energy and reserves to nurse her litter. This photo was from about two weeks ago, prior to her farrowing.

How do you know a sow is about to farrow? Unlike with human women you can ask her. In fact, go up to her and pull on her tit. If she’s close to farrowing you’ll get some milk, or colostrum, like I’m getting from Flo above. Of course, you had best be on a familiar basis with the lady before you try this with a 600 lb sow or she might take offense. Right before she farrows she may even start dripping spontaneously.

Another sign of impending birthing is that the sow will start doing nesting behaviors such as gathering hay and pawing up a nice comfy place to lay down off away from the rest of the herd if possible. This usually begins about 24 hours before the blessed event. Petra, the third sow in the atrium garden, is nesting now and will probably have piglets tomorrow.


Flo’s piglets in the video above are less than 24 hours old and nursing strongly. She is in a open shed in a winter garden paddock near our kitchen door so I get to listen to her song of nursing and the choral line of piglets.

By the way, speaking of tits, Flo is one of our sows that is pushing the envelope towards sixteen. In addition to her fully functional fourteen mammary glands she has two rudimentary teats at the far back. You can see them in the above video between her hind legs. This is important because some pigs have as few as ten tits which limits their ability to produce milk and nurse a large litter. All of our sows have at least 14 – this is one of our breeding criteria. A few, like the sisters Flip, Flop and Flo plus their aunt Petra push the well endowed breast limit towards 16. Hope, age 4, thinks we should start milking the pigs instead of buying milk at the store. An interesting idea…

Outdoors: 21°F/4°F Very high winds, thunder last night, 5″ Snow
Farm House: 59°F/50°F eH2M
Tiny Cottage: 41°F/32°F eH2Mm

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Flo’s Winter Piglets

  1. John Collis says:

    Good looking litter of piglets. I got to say that you got one of the most informative internet sites on raising pig. I’ve learned and ton, just by surfing your site. You should compile all this some day and write a book on the subject. I also can’t wait to see the video of you milking your pigs :)

  2. Hmm… I’m hesitant to handle Hope’s project. I tried milking sheep once. It’s a lot of work. My brother is milking goats and that seems to be going well. We’ll see. Maybe when Hope gets older she can start a Swine Dairy and make Pig Cheeses that will be world famous, or at least unique. :)

  3. Wanna BEE farmer says:

    Hello Walter,
    Is this the first Utube clip on your blog?
    I enjoyed it.
    Milking goats can be done by children as young as 5.
    Get Hope a couple of goats to practice on.
    Then one day she can try and tackle milking pigs.
    Goat milking stands are relatively easy to build.
    Your masonry skills would come in handy for making a pig milking stand.
    Take care

  4. Jeff, I’ve done a couple of other videos. One of piglets and one of fireworks.

  5. All that pushing and shoving! My goodness. They are cute, though. Their Momma should be proud, as they all look very healthy (and HUNGRY).

  6. farm mama 2 says:

    I love your blog – I’m working my way through all your archives. I have a couple of questions.
    Can pigs safely share a pasture with very small goats (Nigerian Dwarfs, about 19″ high when fully grown, very tiny babies at their sides)?
    Do pigs help control snakes? We have copperheads and some rattlesnakes. I grew up on a farm and that was considered true?
    If you would prefer to contract me directly, my e-mail is gep1234@gmail.com

  7. I don’t have goats but our pigs are out with our sheep on pasture. They get along fine. The only issue is during lambing separate the ewes for a week or so until the lambs are up and running fine.

    On the snakes, I’ve seen pigs eat snakes. Our dogs eat snakes too. Looks like they’re slurping up spaghetti. BUT, we have virtually no poisonous snakes. I don’t know how the pigs would do with copperheads or rattlesnakes.



  8. Andrée says:

    I think I am reading these posts backward in my reader, but hey so what! This series is fascinating and I look forward to more. thank you.

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