Blackie Fall 2008 Piglets

Piglets Galore

Blackie and her daughter Jill are some of the most productive sows on our farm. They’re good mothers, keep their condition on pasture and produce large litters of healthy fast growing piglets. The piglets above are Blackie’s from her latest litter. They’re a many colored bunch representing the variety of color genes. Blackie appears to be a Large Black – that is to say she has the phenotype of the Large Black breed of pigs. But I know from her siblings and her offspring that she’s not pure Large Black. The boar who sired these piglets is predominantly Yorkshire with a bit of Berkshire, Glouster Old Spot (GOS) and Tamworth in him. He looks like a GOS. Seeing the different colors and other characteristics is fun.

Ducks, Chickens & Geese come to Investigate

When I fed Blackie the chickens, ducks and geese came over to see if they could get some bread too. Because we were getting a cold rain I had moved Blackie and Flo, both who were close to farrowing, into the lower pond level paddock where they have access to the south end shed.

Blackie Bagged and Nest Building

I often get asked how I know if a sow is going to farrow soon, that is to say, have piglets. The photo above shows Blackie just prior to farrowing. She’s fully bagged and gathering hay to build her nest. It’s hard to see in this photo but her vulva is enlarging.

Outdoors: 48°F/43°F 1″ Rain
Farm House: 67°F/62°F
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/58°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Blackie Fall 2008 Piglets

  1. Lisa says:

    I think I need to have both eyes open before reading posts! I read “When I fed Blackie the chickens” What, you fed the chickens TO the pig!! And the ducks and geese watched!!

    *Sigh* getting old here!

  2. Jen says:

    that is fascinating!
    I recently spent a day with some rescued pot bellied pigs, and when the only sow was about to birth, she nested for about 18 hours – then there were 8 piglets!

    These are just beautiful piggies on your farm!

  3. SBH says:

    I just have to tell you how much I love your blog. Discovered just yesterday, I keep coming back to read more and more. We’re small produce farmers in CT, and only have chickens, hoping to have a “real” farm some day. Your pigs are beautiful, the little ones adorable. Most of all though, dogs helping with chickens is amazing to me. We’ve tried to train ours to protect the chickens, but no luck. Dobermans- maybe it’s the breed? Given half a chance, they’d rather eat them. If you could elaborate on that training, I would be more then happy.
    Thanks for sharing what you do. Count me as a regular reader

  4. farmwife says:

    Nice looking sow! Love the colors on the piglets — we almost always end up buying Yorks, and it gets a bit boring at times.

    Stefan, Dobies have a strong prey drive….it will be really hard to keep them from killing poultry — especially if they already have.

  5. Stefan, I’ve never had Dobermans so I can’t comment directly on them. I’ve trained a lot of dogs with high prey drive. One who had gone to another family returned to us ruined and with much effort I retrained her. She had been a livestock killer but went on to be our lead livestock guardian dog. She never lost her hunting instincts – she just learned to control them and sublimate them into good, useful behaviors. -Walter

  6. Her piglets are so colorful! It is hard to imagine they all came from the same mama!

  7. Rose says:

    There is nothing quite as cute as a litter of piglets!

  8. SBH says:

    Thanks for the reply Walter, and farmwife. Maybe there is hope. We’ve tried everything we can think of, but almost accepted that it just won’t happen. They’re highly intelligent, good dogs, but expecially one is also incredibly stubborn. I highly admire anyone that is able to train dogs to guard lifestock – especially chickens.
    My name is Susanne by the way. Stefan Farms is a default Blogger Account sign in. Thanks Walter, for the comment. I’m just starting the blog. Lots to learn, but also too much to say.
    All the Best

  9. Evelyn says:

    I have a Weimaraner, which was the foundation breed for the Dobie. When I first got my chicks, she just knew they were for her. She snapped at them every time she got near them. Every time she did, she was scolded. If she restrained herself, she was praised. She was not allowed near the brooder, being told "those are MINE!" When the chicks came out of hte brooder, she was leary of going near them, but when they came near her, she tried for them & was scolded. If she chased or caught one, she was scolded while she went to her chain for an hour; for a time out.
    Dobbies & Wiemies are so person oriented. They live to please. She has a prey drive but she wants more to please. Once she got the message that the chickens were mine, "This is NOT FOR YOU!! This is MINE!!" Now, she can run the farm free. She no longer tries to get the chix, an can be out free as a result. I have yet to be able to get her to protect, but we only spend a few months a year at the farm. We're going to try for protection in the next few trips.
    I guess I should add that she's a rescue. She's been thru the pound 2x & was on the streets, feeding herself. She's a great hunter as a result. She no longer hunts the livestock.

  10. SBH says:

    Thanks Evelyn. You’re right, they do live to please. We did/do what you describe, except we try to keep them apart. But like Walter said in another post, chickens are just too tempting. Our dogs are excellent guard dogs. Just can’t resist the flutter.
    Sorry Walter, that your beautiful piglet post is turning into dog chat. I should have posted in the appropriate posts..which I found after you pointed to them.
    I’m thankful for all the responses though. From about giving up, I’m now starting over. Kita did it, and Evelyn. Our mistake to choose to keep them away, rather then work the interaction.

    Walter, I have to tell you, the longer I read your blog, the more I want pigs, too. For pets… Dangerous.

  11. No problem diverging!

  12. Karen B says:

    The color mixes are so interesting on the piglets, in this and other posts :-)

    I have a “heeler” aka Australian Cattle Dog that we got when she was a year old… a retired couple had got her for a house dog, obviously having done no research into the breed, and they couldn’t handle the hyperness so they gave her away. We had one before so we knew what we were getting into. She is a chicken killer to the max. She’s sneaky about it too… if I am watching her she just looks interested and excited… if I take my eyes off her, wham, dead chicken. She is obedient IF she knows I’m looking at her — I have actually stopped her in mid leap by hollering at her.

    Your dogs are beautiful. I would say they have a healthy dose of Malemute in addition to the breeds you already know about, from their wolfy look and double coat.

  13. Karen, see the article Killer Kita – Training the Untrainable. Chickens are the hardest animal for herding and guarding – their flappiness is just so inviting to the predator instinct. But the dogs can learn – even Kita did. She went on to become our lead herding and guardian dog, capable of handling all types of livestock.

  14. henry says:

    Nice work here we do have a farm too and pigs are the main animals here and 2 of them just farrowed one had 12 and another 4 the one that had four this is her 3rd time and she doesn’t still give birth to much any advice it would be great to hear from you.

    • There are many possible reasons for a low count. It could be she didn’t produce or implant enough eggs which can be diet, stress, age, disease, etc. It could be she didn’t get well mated – maybe there was just one mating, maybe it wasn’t long enough, maybe the boar was too young or too old, maybe the boar was sick (a common cold can cause this) or maybe the boar was too hot (reduces fertility). Disease, stress and diet can also cause losses during gestation. Early gestation losses probably will leave no signs. Late gestation means mummified or stillborn piglets will be seen. Assuming she’s getting the same diet, conditions and such as the other sow and they’re not stressed would eliminate some of these factors.

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