Plethora of Piglets


New Sow, New Piglets

Sows are popping, ending their hiatus of gestation so now the hills are alive with the sounds of piglets.

Did you know that a “Sound” is the term for a group of small pigs? When you hear them coming you’ll know why. They make a soft grunting all the way home.

Outdoors: 79°F/64°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/64°F

Daily Spark: I find high voltage fences very exciting.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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9 Responses to Plethora of Piglets

  1. joyce says:

    they are soooo cute!

  2. Ann says:

    I so love seeing the photos of your sows and piglets all out on pasture without those horrible farrowing crates! After several years of pigs in the summer I just bought two bred sows and every is telling me I must use the farrowing crates or the sows will crush the piglets or savage them or eat them. Your farm proves that nature knows what she is doing that sows can farrow naturally without being imprisoned.

    • We have never used gestation nor farrowing crates. I select for good mothering traits which include the ability to build a nest, farrow, proper lay down and raise up piglets on pasture. It is important to provide the sow with good opportunities to make good decisions. A slightly sloping site for drainage or one with plateaus is good. Protection from predators. Privacy from other pigs. Shade from the sun and a wind block. In very rainy climates you would want to have good cover such as provided by an open shed or a copse of trees. Evergreen trees work particularly well for shelter from sun, rain and wind.

  3. Nat Kauffman says:

    What kind of sow is that? Some sort of Tamworth cross? Are those piglets out of Spitz?

    • She is out of our Mainline cross which is Yorkshire x Berkshire x Tamworth. Her phenotype we see pop up time to time and call the “cow pigs” for their coloration.

      These piglets are from a Blackie Mainline sire (Mainline x Large Black) from the south herd.

      This sow moved north to farrow after breeding in the south herd. She will be rebred by our Berkshire boar Spitz on the rebound for a late fall farrowing next time around. For more on our pig genetics see the Pig Page and the “Four Sows and Piglets” article.

  4. Farmerbob1 says:

    Walter, I can’t remember you discussing it, but do pigs have any issues with increased mortality or poor health of live-birth piglets in aging sows?

    I know you track how big a sow’s litters are, and if their litter size drops significantly they go to meat. But before this happens, are there piglet health issues? Do you consider breeding longevity in your genetics?

    • No, not that I’ve seen. The big (older) sows produce ever larger litters as a general rule and they are also more robust if anything than those of younger sows. Big sows produce more milk which also helps. Typically the litters go up about one piglet per parity, not quite that. Longevity is very hard to breed for.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        Thanks for the reply. I chose my words poorly at the end, so I’ll try again.

        What I meant to say was if you consider how long sows successfully throw acceptable litters (breeding longevity, not life expectancy) when you do long term planning of genetics?

        That’s something you’d have to do looking back. It seems to me like it could be a useful trait, if you have a certain line of sows that consistently bred well for longer than others. Then try to isolate high litter count examples from that line, or cross it with another line that seems predisposed to large litters? Sows that have bigger litters for more years.

        Then again, having sows around for a long time might make it a little more difficult and time-consuming to shape the genetics of your pigs.

        • I don’t take most sows out to their full potential breeding lifespan because I only want to keep up to a maximum of 100 sows (the number fluctuates up that high seasonally) and there are always new and improved sows coming up through our genetics. Thus there is a roll over that catches up with most sows long before they get to the age of losing fertility. The rare super sow gets that old but she’s constantly competing with each and every litter against the upstarts who want her place in the breeding pool. The actual number who get over six years of age is statistically insignificant. Nine years is the max we’ve had. Losing fertility before six years is rare. It’s that last issue, pushing evolution, that is the catch.

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