Piglet Time


Piglets in South Field

We’ve been having a lot of piglet births recently. The above piglets came from new sows, previously gilts, who just had their first litter. They are from our main line herds including the Blackie line.
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In another area we just had a whole lot of piglets out of our new Berkshire boar Spitz crossed with our new Tamworth sows and new Large Black sows as well as many of our main line sows.

Precious piglets popping out all over the place!

Outdoors: 24°F/19°F Partially Sunny, Light Snow
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/59°F

Daily Spark: You don’t take the trip, the trip takes you. -John Steinbeck

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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9 Responses to Piglet Time

  1. DrFood says:

    So cute! You have, like, a reverse Hampshire there. It looks like it is white with a black belt. . .

  2. skeptic7 says:

    So cute. How are the new Berkshires and Tamworths and Large Blacks doing? Everytime I ask this question you tell me its too early to tell? :)

    • The new Large Black and Tamworth have reached slaughter age this winter and we’re just starting to see results on them these past few months. Regarding hardiness, winter-ability and growth rate, they are not as good as our main line herds and existing Large Black line that came down through Blackie and crossed with our main line herds. It takes years to select the genetics.

      We now have piglets growing up from Spitz, our new Berkshire boar, but it will be many months before we get to sow how they grow up. At this point he has crossed with all four of the other breeding lines. In another year we’ll know more about how those crosses come out.

      Realize that gestation takes almost four months and then six to eight months depending on the season for the pigs to grow up. Each pig is a ten month cycle to get to market. To get the next generation is ten to twelve months. It takes a repeating of that cycle with gilts from those new breeders before we really see the results. To really have any statistics it takes many pigs through the cycle to see how they perform.

      We must also see the pigs in many seasons, particularly in winter for winter-ability, on pasture for pasture-ability as well as watching farrowing to test mothering instincts. It’s a long process bringing in new genetics and it will take many years to mix in the genes, select and bring them up to par with our ten years of breeding with our main line herds. It’s a process.

      The short answer is: it is still to early to know since it has only been one year. Check back next decade. :)

  3. Melissa says:

    The short answer is: it is still to early to know since it has only been one year. Check back next decade. :)

    LOL . . . . isn’t that the truth!!

  4. Gisele says:

    I’m so happy to find this site and Walter’s experience. I grew up in VT but now live on the coast of Maine. We have a 60 acre farm and had raised cattle, sheep, chickens/turkeys. We use to raise one pig at a time for the freezer years ago when our kids were young. We’re now empty nesters and getting back to farming. I’ve found someone wanting to thin their herd (what do you call a group of piggies is it a herd??)Anyway, am thinking of buying a sow that will farrow in May. So exciting. I’m wondering what I have to do to the little ones when they’re born? Do they need any vacinations or special supplements or anything? Or just leave it to Momma. I use to have to inject my lambs to prevent a muscle disease due to lack of selenium in our soils. What is the most important thing I need to know. I’ve never had a pregnant sow. I expect the owners can fill me in, they’ve been doing it for 13yrs. I was hoping to find some heritage breed pigs that do well on pasture but seems like yours do fine and are they white Yorkshires?

    • Yes, a group of pigs is a herd. If you have had pigs before and know about taking care of a pig then starting with a bred sow is a good way to get a little deeper into pigs. That way you won’t have to deal with a boar or AI this time around. If you keep back the best boar from her litter you can rebreed him to her when he is around ten months old. He may be able to breed her sooner but at about ten months they hit their stride with sperm production. Inbreeding is not taboo in pig culture and if you are starting with good genetic stock it is unlikely to have a problem. One of the beauties of pigs is that even mistakes are edible.

      I would suggest Farrowsure Gold B as a good basic vaccine. Check with your state department of agriculture and ask the person you’re buying from too about any local issues.

      I would strongly recommend that you have the sow farrow in the warm months, perhaps April or May through September or October at the latest. Winter is very hard farrowing time. Doing April/October you can get two litters a year. Just starting out you might want to just do a summer litter the first year to get your feet on the ground. See this article: Dipping Your Toes in Breeding.

      Selenium and iron are important and can be gotten from many soils but some are deficient. Get a soil test. See these two articles: Piglet Interventions and Mineral Deficiencies. Kelp is a good mineral supplement but watch out for salt content and always have fresh water available as pigs are sensitive to salt.

      Yorkshire is a good breed and many pasture well. They are one of the foundations of our herds.

  5. Nicole says:

    We have two sows – one farrowed almost 2 weeks ago and her sister is due any minute. We let the piglets out of the farrowing area a couple days ago and they have bonded with the pregnant sow. In fact, the pregnant aunt has started nursing the piglets and it has increased over the last day. Since it is obvious her milk has come in, we put her in the farrowing shed but she got super mad and kept breaking out! She broke a fence and rooted up huge plywood sheets, etc. We worried she would hurt herself so we let her out again. We are pretty new to this and can’t find any info on whether or not this is all okay. I worry the 2 week old piglets will steal the colostrum. Any thoughts? Can’t wait to hear from you!!! Thanks!

    • If the piglets from the first litter are nursing this can cause a problem. Separate them back to their mother. The new piglets won’t be able to compete for teats on the second sow and are using up the colostrum which the new piglets need. The 2nd sow needs a private space to be away from other pigs so she can farrow.

      • Nicole says:

        Thanks for the quick response! We will keep trying to separate her but she is crazy determined to get out. I just needed to hear how important it is to do so – my fears confirmed about the competition. Happy Spring!

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