Big Spots, Little Spots


Big Spots, Little Spots

Outdoors: 34째F/19째F 6″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 68째F/61째F

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Big Spots, Little Spots

  1. Melissa says:

    Huh. Big Spots looks funny, I didn't know pigs could stretch their backs like that. (Or is he built that way?) I had a mental image that pigs that size lumber around like mobile sofas, and that's about all they can physically manage. You've mentioned them jumping three or four foot fences – I'm surprised they can even get off the ground. I know the little ones are very squirmy and can run like heck, but how agile are the big ones?

  2. Spot (Big Spots) is very long and he may well be stretching too in that photo. When they're relaxed and happy I sometimes see them do a stretching move.

    He is so long in body and tall at the shoulder that fencing hopping is easy for him. Fortunately he rarely does it for the simple reason that he has want he wants within the boundaries. If he were to stand upright he would be about 11' tall.

    Sometimes he dances. It is sort of a jumping, twisting, bucking, prancing movement. Stay well back as he's about 3/4 ton of dancing pig. This isn't unique to him but it does seem to be related to sexual cycles in the adults. Adults play and dance a lot less than smaller pigs.

    Since our pigs are field raised they don't have thick layers of fat and this may make them more agile than corn fed (high calorie) penned pigs (low exercise). Still, they are nowhere near as flexible as dogs or cats. A dog or cat can turn itself into a circle.

  3. By the way, speaking of seeing Spots, you can check out more photos from different angles of Spot at this post. He is older and bigger now but those photos will give you a sense of him.

  4. Gail in Montana says:

    Nice photo of some of your pigs at different stages of life. Thanks for sharing with us!! I do enjoy seeing your posts everyday. Hope you didn't get hit with more snow or that wind/flooding I just saw on TV in Maine!!! Take care, God bless, and be safe and warm!!

  5. Melissa says:

    Good grief. I thought he was big in those previous photos! No wonder the greenhouse looks a little short in comparison. Thanks for sharing your farm with us city types. :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am so curious Walter to know how big he and the other pigs are. How big is a typical market pig and how big will they grow if you just let them get to full size? I have read that elephants never stop growing just like trees and things like that too. Are pigs like this.
    Adam

  7. christa wurm says:

    I see you have the electrified sheep fencing–do you use this in the winter as well? we've had luck with three stands of aluminum wire, but we are going to try rotating our pigs this year- we do spring to fall meat pigs – and are trying to think of all the ways we can use what fencing we already have.

    Also, any tips on moving pigs? I've heard of "wheel barrowing" them, and backing them up with a bucket, but I'm still taking ideas…

  8. Christa,

    Here are some posts about moving pigs. Take your time, even giving them days to move over to a new place along a path.

    For fencing we've used the poultry netting, polywire on step-in posts, low tensile (16 or 17 gauge) smooth wire and high tensile 12 gauge electric smooth wire. For permanent outer perimeters I like the high tensile and the polywire works well or inner divisions. The poultry netting works great for easy simple rotational grazing on a temporary basis. See some fencing posts here.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  9. Adam,

    I haven't measured Spot in a long time. I'll put that on my to-do list. He's big. Bigger than I thought when I built the water wind shelter this year such that I had to raise the bar for him.

    Typical market pigs, called Finishers, are about 250 lbs and around 48" long crown to the base of the tail. See this post about weighing a pig with a string.

    Pigs do stop growing. I had heard the myth that they grew forever but that has not turned out to be the case based on the boars and sows we've kept for breeding, some of which are now about 7 years old. The myth of never stopping growing may come from most pigs being fed a diet too high in calories so they become obese and eventually die from overweight. With our pigs on pasture they don't have this happen.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  10. Farmerbob1 says:

    Walter,

    I think it would be fascinating to follow one of your pigs from piglet to adult. I was thinking about it and realized that with the sheer number of piglets your sows throw every year, that it might be hard to track a single pig that ends up becoming a breeder, especially if they don’t have easily noticeable features. Perhaps group photos then?

    Maybe pictures of large groups, until most of the animals have been butchered, then start with individual photos, or small group pictures? Editing the photos with arrows to show the lucky breeder as he appeared way back when he was just one of the pack.

    It would be something else to show just how fast they grow by taking the pictures with a yardstick visible, or just standing beside an adult human. Especially the males. I bet a monthly photo gallery of Spot would show some truly amazing changes for the first couple years!

    • Holly and I’ve talked about doing a project like this that shows a pig from birth to adulthood and beyond. I have the photos as I take pictures of litters when they’re born and then many photos of them as they age. What I would really like to do to properly accomplish this would be to have them in the same location and background for each photo. That I have not yet done. It’s on my To-Do list so watch for it someday.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        Perhaps just choose one particularly photogenic piglet without any obvious problems and give them a pass on culling until they are big enough that they stop growing rapidly?

        I’m not sure how wasteful this might be to keep a pig around simply for growth stage pictures. I imagine you can probably weed out 50% or more of the potential future breeders by the end of the first day or two after farrowing, since you have a list of characteristics you are breeding for.

        Perhaps a project like this might be tied into a school project, so the waste would have more than one use?

        • We cull to meat about 95% of gilts and about 99.5% of boars by finishing age. Only about 5% of gilts and 0.5% of boars get to become breeders and stay on the farm. It is a project that will happen someday.

          • Farmerbob1 says:

            I know your 5% and 0.5% numbers, Walter, I was saying that I suspected you could identify, within a day or two, based on the traits you want, at least half of the piglets that would never be breeders.

          • Yes, and by weaning we pretty much know down to about 25% to even 15%. It is a fun photo project I have planned. Just need to setup for it and make the time… When I do it I plan to follow many pigs since even if I identify them as potentially breeders at birth or weaning they may not make it into that rarified group by six to eight months (end of finishers and start of breeders).

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