Creepy! Where little pigs can come in but big pigs can’t.
In the warm months our sows farrow out in the pastures, typically building a nest of grasses, sticks or stones – just like the three little pig’s story.
The photo above shows a weaner creep in the area of the new, not yet completed, greenhouse. Note the slots we formed in the concrete for flexible partitioning of the sections.
Inner Room of the Creep with New Sleepers
Eventually the sows become quite unhappy with the tending of so many mouths. The sow will try to prevent the piglets from nursing by lying on her belly but the many mouths are constantly pestering at her. As soon as she gets up to pee, drink or eat they latch on and suckle. Left to their own devices the piglets will continue nursing, dragging the sow down and making her peakid, that is to say nursed down and skinny. This over nursing isn’t good for her health and doesn’t benefit the piglets who are then quite capable of grazing on their own.
Special Bedding to Invite in Ready to Wean Piglets
The tricky part when weaning time rolls around is separating out the piglets. When the piglets are running around all over several acres of pasture you can’t simply catch them. It’s not like picking turnips and it doesn’t happen on an exact schedule like can be done with a confinement operation.
Overhead View of the Piglet Weaning Creep
To wean piglets from the fields we setup a creep with extra food in it to attract in the piglets. We then call in the sows near that area on a regular basis so they bring the piglets close. In the weaner creep we put a roof and bedding to make it be a special place for them. The piglets quickly adopt it and begin sleeping and eating there rather than with their mother. This is a sign that they are ready to wean.
This morning when I went to see who was in the creep there were about two dozen piglets piled in the hay. One was standing up on top of the wooden form Will had setup as a roof by leaning it up on the fence. The little boar walked to the top and looked down over the edge. Then he walked back down, clop-clop-clop. I realized then what the sound was that I had heard last night – piglets discovering what a great ramp the roof made.
Strong Creep Barrier to Keep out Big Pigs
At about six weeks we simply close off the weaner area, locking in the piglets and weaning them. After they have been in a weaner paddock for a few weeks to re-center their idea of where home is we move them to the grower paddock. In the ideal world this would be as simple as opening a gate but sometimes we end up moving groups further from north to south herds.
Mouse Meeting Other Piglets
Mouse, the sow in this picture, is passing by some piglets that are not hers. She’s starting to show the loss of weight that means it is getting to be time to have her wean. Her piglets, not the ones shown in the photo above, have started to roam from her which means they’ll soon be ready to wean too. As they get to that age they start to run in large groups mixed with other litters.
Outdoors: 75째F/52째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 74째F/71째F Shed Roof Removed 75%