More Piglets

Piglets are popping out all over. Today Mouse, Big Pig and Long Nose all farrowed. The other four sisters all look like they’ll go any day now. It is quite amazing to have them all going so close together because they all farrowed at widely separate times last time. In the past the boars we have borrowed only mated one sow a day so the piglets ended up spread out. Archimedes, our boar pictured below, is our first boar. We got him in trade with Archie, a farmer up north of us who has been a great source of info about pigs. The boar was a busy fellow and quite the performer to have bred all eight of the big sows at once. We kept back the best five sons of his for trading out as young boars. I wish I could keep one myself as they are looking fine.

The piglet count to date is not clear yet as Big Pig was still farrowing when it got dark. I peeked in and saw several with her but didn’t want to disturb her further in the waning light. There were at least 30 new piglets in addition to Little Pig’s ten from yesterday. Some already have deposits on them – if all of these wean we will be ahead. Last year we had over six hundred requests for piglets – it was a tight market for many reasons.

As of my last count, Mouse had eleven piglets all nursing and looking healthy. She farrowed late in the afternoon. Like both Long Nose and Little Pig she chose to farrow in one of the hill dens. She was not inclined to move so we brought her more fresh hay which she appreciated and immediately added to her nest.

Long Nose, shown at the top with her fifteen piglets including the littlest walking on her, is doing her part to keep the average high. She weaned fourteen piglets last time which was excellent for a first time gilt. After she had a bit of time to recover from birthing we moved Long Nose and her piglets into the farrowing greenhouse next to Little Pig. They seem to be getting along just fine. One of the nice things about the mixed age herd having been together with so much free space that they all get along really well.

In the picture above it looks like Long Nose and Little Pig are in a cage. They aren’t. The 666WWM wire is just the structural ironwork of the greenhouse. The door on the front is open so they can go in and out as they like as shown in the photo below.

Several people have asked in comments and email about the construction technique for the farrowing greenhouse. It is quite simple – basically a double arch of 666WWM inside a third arch for structural strength. I’ll write up what we did along with some drawings and photos after we’ve had more time to see how well our new winter farrowing digs perform. That will give me time to learn what gotchas there are in how we’re doing it. This is the first year we’ve had sows farrow in the cold winter weather so we’re on the alert for surprises!

“Life is a grand adventure which will eventually kill you.”

31째F/23째F, Sunny, Cloudy, Windy, Snowy (1/10th”?)


About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to More Piglets

  1. Rosa says:

    They look soooo cute. How fascinating is your life!

  2. Rosa says:

    Looks like momma is smiling. What a fascinating blog.

  3. Rosa says:

    Sorry if you get several comments. Don’t know if first comment went through. New at this!

  4. pablo says:

    “quite the performer to have bred all eight of the big sows at once.” Did you really mean to phrase it that way?

    Also regarding your quotation, I’ve heard that life is a sexually transmitted terminal condition!

  5. P.V. says:

    I really really like yor solutions to things. Its so much more respectful of life. I betcha your pigsa re happyer. Factory farms reallly worrys me. your way with the animal out side in the fresh air on on the pastures is so much healthier.

  6. Helen says:

    Hi Walter!

    Those piglets look adorable :) What a great picture!

    If you get a chance, I have tagged you in a meme started by Raquel from Raquel’s Box of Chocolates ( called Common Cold Remedies. I am interested to see what you do to cure colds — particularly any food and drink related remedies :)

    Here is my post about a drink called “cranberry cozy” that does wonders with colds.

    You can participate only if you would like to, but please don’t feel obligated.


  7. Peter comly says:

    How do you keep them from tearing the plastic apart. Any time my pigs have the opportunity to destroy something they seem to take it. How do you manage your breeding stock at breeding time. I have 3 gilts and a boar I want to breed in the next month and I haven’t decided whether to take the gilts individually to the boar or just let them all run together and let their natural instincts sort it out.

  8. Pablo, that’s a great way to put the quote of life! As to the phrasing of the breeding, it was a regular orgy for about three days. Poor fellow had eight beautiful sows all in heat at the same time. He was rather beside himself after six months of abstinence.

    P.V., I think the animals like it outdoors too. I have visited farms where they’re kept indoors and where the sows are crated so they can’t move around at all, not eve turn. Sad. I endeavor for the opposite, a more healthy natural environment.

    Helen, Eek! I’m already tagged on another meme. Although I must admit this one about the cold cures is very interesting. Right now I have a cold. I traced it to having gone in town to do our winter food shopping trip. My guess is that touching the handle of the shopping carts was what transmitted it although it could have been airborne. I’m drinking lots of mint tea and eating plenty of our delicious turkey and barley soups which gives me lots of fluids.

    Peter, the pigs don’t seem to be bothering the plastic. This is a bit of an experiment. I used the plastic because 1) I can’t afford the Kalwall or Lucite I would like to have and 2) I have found that our pigs don’t generally bother inanimate objects. Most of all they’ll rub on things to scratch an itch. I have heard of other people saying that pigs will rip everything up. It sounds like that happens in cases when they are confined. Ours have a big garden corral that they spend most of their winter time in. They are also able to go out into the entire south field which is about seven acres. On the breeding, we keep our boar with the herd. He is a real gentleman and good with all of the ages – piglets to matron sows.

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