Death of a Piglet
Not all stories have happy endings. Not all pictures are pretty. The piglet above was born 20 hours ago but never thrived. Sometimes when piglets are born there is a weak one. Perhaps a premie that was not as far along in the womb when the others voted to exit. A piglet like this won’t get out of the way of others, chills more easily, won’t suckle and is not nearly as viable. We’re not talking runts, the ones who do survive but are smaller. These others are the next level down.
With extra care they may survive. We mark them so they won’t go into the breeder pool and put them in the ICU for intensive care after hot tubbing them to warm their core temperature. The ICU consists of half a barrel in our cottage with bottles filled with 104°F water, bedding and a cloth cover to keep the warmth inside. Twenty-four hours a day we feed them every few hours by hand and they snuggle up to the warm bottles. It is a lot of work but fortunately few piglets need it and of those that do this often revives them and within a few hours or days so they can rejoin their litter mates and mom.
Even with this extra attention some of these piglets don’t make it. They may have be born with a congenital birth defect that makes them truly non-viable. Once off the mother’s life support systems in the womb they can’t breath right, their hearts might be weak, their digestive systems incomplete. They die.
The strange part is they almost always die in our hands. Statistically that seems very odd – we are only handling them about 5% of the time. There is nothing that we’re physically doing that seems like it would stress them. They seem to like being held. It is usually while we’re just calmly sitting and holding them that they go, that they are released from life.
Outdoors: 40°F/31°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 67°F/65°F
Daily Spark: Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. -Roger Caras