Kita was standing up trying to figure out why I had put a piglet up on the beam. I hadn’t, those were Hope’s gloves but they had the smell of the piglets on them and were roughly the right shade and size to be a piglet. Once Kita poked them with her nose she realized they weren’t a piglet and lost interest.
Kita attends virtually all the farrowings. She does have ulterior motives but her presence with the sows when they’re out in the field keeps away predators. Kita also cleans up the dead. That is part of her job. She’ll never hurt a live, healthy viable piglet. Those she defends voraciously as Petra, another sow, found out when she came too close while Mouse was nursing. I think Petra was just curious but Kita wasn’t interested in her being so close to Mouse. Kita’s reward, perhaps her motivation, is that she quickly eats up any piglets that are still born or die. This means they are not left to attract flies, crows, foxes, coyotes or other scavengers who might harm healthy piglets.
How, you might ask, do I have any way of knowing that Kita doesn’t eat live piglets??? Well, the fact that we have piglets, and large live litters, rather proves that. With Kita’s appetite she could easily scarf them all down, perhaps in one sitting. She doesn’t. The existence of piglets proves her selectiveness. And no, it’s not the sows protecting the piglets from Kita, they don’t. They obey her every growl and poke.
On the other hand I have repeatedly seen her defending the piglets. She does not care for strangers getting near her livestock. It isn’t just the new borns that attract her attention. Kita goes beyond that as she regularly checks her charges from piglets to growers to the big boars and sows in the main herd. I’ve gone out at midnight at times and run into her in the dark making her rounds. I’m glad she knows me well.
There is one piglet in this set of eleven that Kita said won’t make it. She was correct. It was far smaller than the the others and not nursing or walking yet. She removed it from the pile after a while despite my repeatedly putting it back on a teat. We finally brought it in the house to give it fluids but it was dead the next day. Kita was right. After having mid-wifed so many piglets she has a good sense of this.
Outdoors: 28°F/25°F Sunny, 1.5″ Snow in the early morning
Farm House: 50°F/47°F no fire
Tiny Cottage: 54°F/47°F plumbing planning & piecing
thats really amawzing
She looks great. Where was this pic taken? Do you have a greenhouse? I havent seen that before.
That was in the house end shed that we built this winter for the pigs. It is a two sided shed and very nice with it’s raised deep bed bed of hay. I wish I had a greenhouse but I don’t right now. We lost ours in the ice storm of ’98. When we built this shed I used the clear roofing with the idea that perhaps I’ll use it in the fall and spring for a cool greenhouse to get a jump start on the season. It is a wonderful space on a sunny day when the snow is not on the roofing. Very bright.
WOW!!!!!!!!! Shes huge!!!!!!! I never noticed how big your dog was befor!
What kind of a dog is Kita? Looks like a mix of Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, and maybe yellow lab? Please let me know, I’m always interested in guessing breeds of dogs.
I’m really interested in your breeding program for your dogs. Can you refer me to some articles you’ve written on it, if you don’t mind?
Thanks. Much appreciated.
Ben & Sean, our dogs are a mix of German Shepherd, Black Labrador and a lot of other. Kita’s grandfather showed up on our doorstep and said he was going to manage the place & do guard duty. I said “go away”. For three days we argued about this. He won because he demonstrated his skills and got the job. His offspring with a couple of ladies who we rescued are the resulting line we have.
I don’t think I’ve written up a breed article yet, just comments here and there. There is an article about “Feeding Big Dogs” that has photos of several of them. Also try this Google search which will give you more.