Preparing to Pop


White Gilt in Farrowing Field

Each week we sort pigs. Some go to market. Some go to breeding herds. Some go to farrowing fields. This gilt is in the lower south field’s paddock one and approaching her due date along with a dozen other gestating sows and gilts.

Any day now she’ll build a nest away from the others and farrow her litter of piglets. They tend to seek privacy in the margins of the fields. It’s an instinctual behavior and an indication of good mothering that I watch for.

Outdoors: 64°F/34°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: If you can’t have super powers would you settle for nice?

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Preparing to Pop

  1. Bill Beaman says:

    Any problems with predators stealing piglets?

  2. Marilyn says:

    Hey is that barbed wire or electric beyond the preg. mama? It looks barbed and the bottom one stuck on the one above it. We’re really trying hard to get started with a few here – afraid of the boars and mean moms – but we’re hoping that with all the info you have that we’ll do well. thank you!!!

    • No it’s not barbed wire but rather polywire. That happens to be one of the polywires that is alternating black and then yellow which is why you’re seeing a pattern. Polywire consists of six or nine strands of stainless steel mixed in with strands of plastic which make it visible and easy to handle.

      Barbed wire is bad for pigs, horses and humans. We do not use barbed wire in any of our fences. Barbed wire should also never be electrified and not even used around electric fencing.

  3. Jake says:

    Walter,

    When your sows Farrow out on pasture are they still kept in those pastures with strands of electric and if so does that cause any issues with piglets or do you use woven wire fence for those paddocks?

    • I’ve never seen the smooth wire electric fences cause a problem for the piglets. They don’t tend to leave the nest until they are walking well. Then if they bump into the electric wire they jump away from it. Modern electric fence energizers send out a very short pulse of electricity and then turn off for about 0.99 seconds. This gives you a shock, like touching a door knob after rubbing your feet on the carpet in the winter. Then the shock stops so that you can get away from the fence which is the natural reaction.

      Little piglets also tend to be too small to even reach the fence wires which are typically up above them and they tend to stick around the sow and not wander too far.

      That said, we are implementing a new fencing setup which you can see Will installing in the article North Home Field Sow and Piglets. The purpose of that low netting fence is to actually be able to stop piglets and just as importantly to keep the lowest wires from shorting out to weeds.

  4. Paul Smith says:

    We live in Alaska and are a off grid farm start. I have been raising vegetables organically for years and have a good knowledge of chickens, rabbits and dogs. Breeding of said critters and such.
    Last fall we purchased milk goats and pigs. We have four goats and two sow pigs.
    We also have a billy goat for breading, witch is out on loan right now, and a intact Boar that has bread with our sows. I have all three pigs together at this time.
    Question is, how soon before piglets, do I need to separate the sows from the boar?
    What temperature is too cool for the sows to have there piglets outside the barn?
    We have a small barn with a wood stove to heat it up a bit if we need to. I am just worried about the piglets being born at 10 degrees F.
    I am still debating on keeping the boar for future breeding or to eat him… ?
    Thanks for sharing valuable information.

    • In the warm season our boars are often with our farrowing sows and this works. The sows go off to the margins of the pasture, build a nest, guard the site and farrow in privacy. In the cold months it is important to give the sows the privacy they need starting a week or two before they farrow. We use wind block open shelters with deep bedding packs. Many different sizes from a cave dug into the hill to our big Ark. Also see Winter Farrowing Ideas. We farrow as cold as -35°F with excellent success. It does take good genetics for mothering skills and good setup.Deep bedding packs are important for producing heat and feed as well as microclimate.

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