Tiny Tim and Not Litter Mates
Tiny Tim is the piglet pictured in the middle. At five days of age he weighs just one pound. Unlike his namesake he is not crippled, he’s just very, very small.
The piglets on either side of Tiny Tim are not his litter mates. They’re about seven days older than him. Still, the difference should not be so dramatic. He is only about the size of their heads.
Tiny Tim is officially a runt, in that he is very small. It will be interesting to watch him over time and see if he makes it to full market size. We occasionally get runts and some times they make it. Most tiny ones like this die within the first 24 to 48 hours. They have congenital birth defects such that they were able to survive in the womb while on the sow’s life support system but once born and having to support themselves, to breath, eat and digest they don’t make it. So the fact that Tiny Tim is five days old and still doing well suggests he might actually make it.
Runts, when they live, don’t stay small. They may not grow into 1,700 lb mammoths like Spot and other half ton or more giants we have had but they won’t stay small and aren’t pet pigs. At full size, if he makes it, Tiny Tim will probably weigh 400 to 600 lbs. A market pig is 250 lbs. That’s no lap pig – although at the moment he fits in the palm of my hand.
Some people have asked if a tiny piglet would breed true, producing tiny offspring. I’ve never tried it but I doubt it. The problem does not seem to be likely a genetic issue but rather a non-genetic congenital defect.
For comparison, all of the bitches in our working dog pack have been small yet they have produced sons, and a few daughters, who way out massed them sometimes by a factor of three.
In our pigs, Spot, Speckles, Big’Un, Archimedes and other greater than 1,000 lb boars were all produced by sows who were only 400 to 600 lbs at the time these giants were born. I don’t think you could realistically, efficiently or quickly produce a race of teacup pigs from our farm genetics which have been bred for generations for just the opposite.
No, if I was going to try and produce small pigs I would actually start the other way around, by looking at the sows and boars who grow the slowest and top out the lowest as adults. These would be more likely to have the genes for smaller size that one might want when producing a pig to live in a small ecosystem. A runt like Tiny Tim is most likely just a random oddity.
Even better would be to start with existing small genetics like the Potbellied Pig, Kune Kune, Ossabow. These are breeds that are known for slow growth and staying smaller in the 200 to 300 lb range. They have already been selected for slow growth and small adult size through centuries of breeding.
So what are the odds of such a tiny pig? Being the only one born like that this year so far out of hundreds of piglets so I would peg the odds at about a 0.2% chance of a Tiny Tim.
Outdoors: 84°F/58°F 2.5″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/63°F
Daily Spark: All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others. -Animal Farm