Horde of Piglets


South Field Sows and Piglets

There is a horde of piglets in the south field. One hundred and six piglets from June farrowings to be precise. They range from about three pounds up to thirty five pounds or so – I haven’t actually weighed them so that’s a guess.
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The sows, their boars and the piglets have eaten up the upper section of the pasture so today Ben opened the lane up to the far south field which is lush with grasses, clovers, chicory, millets and all sorts of other good forages. The pigs were delighted.

Some of the piglets in the south field are ready to wean so we’ve been training them to follow us up the mountain where we’ll take them to the weaning paddocks. Their sows will move over to the strawberry level and dry up before heading north to breed with Spitz, our Berkshire boar, and the Mainline boar or coming south again to breed with Tamborine, Spitzon or one of the Blackieline boars.

Yesterday we moved ten late gestation sows down to the lower south fields so those too will soon be filled with the sounds of piglets.

Outdoors: 82°F/62°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/63°F

Daily Spark: Now is the time to be ready for the future.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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4 Responses to Horde of Piglets

  1. skeptic7 says:

    I always like the piglet pictures and these have such an amazing variety of colors. The tan sow with the black spots looks like she is trying to ask a question. There isn’t much undergrowth in that field. Do you worry about the pigs eating all the vegetation and not leaving enough to regrow?
    Do you have enough space in weaning paddock for all the piglets?

    • She’s asking if I have a treat for her. I often show up on my field walks with a bit of something tasty. This keeps the sows tame – important when dealing with 300 to 900 pound ladies. As the old proverb says: the best way to their heart, and brain, is through their belly.

      They’re mob grazing this section to knock down some weeds – you can see some goldenrod in the background for example. Later this summer this section will grow right back up and look like the picture here. The forages spring back very well from even a small amount of root mass. In fact, the forages we want like the grasses, legumes, etc are able to take this harder grazing which the weed species can’t handle. This is what keeps, or I should say kept, the prairie lands open through the grazing of large herds.

      As to enough room, we have about 70 acres of pastures and I find that we can sustainably do about ten pigs per acre with the rotational grazing. Adding any supplements to that would increase the number such as if you were feeding a commercial hog feed, etc which we don’t.

  2. Dan says:

    Walt, I’m curious about the number you need to sustain your family farm. I think you had 92 last year. Is there a number you hope for? I follow your blog and often find myself getting excited about your projects. I’m “rooting” for your you and your family!

    • Uh, no, actually 92 would be about the number of pigs born in one or two months of time, not a year. The largest one month count for farrowing is 156 from last summer. Many of those get sold as feeder pigs for other people to raise, as roaster pigs, etc so at any one time we have around four hundred pigs. Our goal is ten pigs a week for cutters plus some roaster pigs and some spring feeder weaner pig sales. Right now we have a bottleneck on transport that limits us to six pigs a week but that will eventually change once we begin on-farm slaughter. Soon we’ll have the on-farm butchering and sausage making which will save us on the cost of processing which we’ll in turn put towards bringing smoking on-farm and then that will let us pay the costs of bringing the slaughter on-farm. Step-by-step.

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