Pigs in a Storm – Emergency Creep

Four Sows and Piglets at Underhill

I got a call from Holly who was on the road that she had heard on the radio that there were tornado, hail and flood warnings. We are up above potential flooding but there is still concern if the rains are intense. Prior to my terracing we used to sometimes get washes down the mountain from hard rains. With 50 newborn piglets Holly was justifiably worried.

Quartermane Piglets

Piglets in the upper and far fields have plenty of brush to hunker down in during the storm. The Underhill piglets in question are in Underhill, a paddock that has less brush cover than most. As a quick solution Will, Ben and I moved in the sow hut we had made from an old broken water tank. Rather than putting the ton and a half of sows in it we set the hut up as a creep with electric around it. This way the piglets could retreat into the hut if the rain was too much for them. They did.

Will Lifting Sow Hut with Tractor and Strap

The sows don’t mind sleeping out in the rain. I think they like it given that they will choose to sleep and graze out in the weather. They are so big at 300 to 800 lbs each that a little rain, or even a lot of rain, doesn’t phase them.

Sow Hut Setup as a Piglet Creep

The hot wire around the hut keeps the sows from rubbing against the hut and keeps them out of it but lets piglets in – a creep.

As a side note you might notice that where the sow hut was before there is only about 4″ of built up bedding. It is higher on the perimeter than the center forming a bowl shape – the traditional sow’s nest. The sow who built this nest, Double Stuff, used approximately 800 lbs of hay which is one round bale, for her nesting and eating over six weeks time. In other words, she ate most of it. She was weaned just last week. I have found that they tend to use about one full bale in the winter per farrowing. Part of that was what the sow ate and part was what she bedded with. Often I would see her eating the bedding as she nursed. Until now I’ve not had a measure of how much she consumed vs how much was bedding. There is no waste as this will get composted and used to improve our soil.

Simple Pallet Emergency Piglet Shelter

Quartermane’s piglets showed me that they thought the pile of pallets was also a good shelter. Ben and I reorganized the pile. A simple hot wire around it like for the hut keeps sows from rearranging the pile. This prevents a piglet from being caught in a shifting pallet.

Outdoors: 73°F/49°F Periods of Intense Rain & Wind, 2″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/67°F

Daily Spark: There is more meat on a mouse than a donut. -Sirus

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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4 Responses to Pigs in a Storm – Emergency Creep

  1. Zach says:

    Our first sow is going to farrow for the first time in about 3 months. How do you determine where she will nest? You mentioned that humans can’t build one for them and to let them do it. Our hogs are on pasture and the only structure they have is a hoop hut. How soon do they start nesting?

    • They typically start nesting about three to one days before farrowing. Generally they do it in a shaded, sheltered spot that has privacy from other pigs, typically off along the margins of the fields. Three of our sows just farrowed under clusters of trees along the fence line on slightly sloping ground. One used grasses, another sticks and the third stones. Yes, really.

      If the hoop is very big it may be a fine nesting area. They need a circle about 6′ to 8′ in diameter.

      If you put out bales of hay where you would like them to nest they may choose those spots because of the readily available material if it is in what they consider a good spot. This biases them.

  2. Kristin says:

    Walter – what is the gray line of…..gravel? behind the fence posts in the background?

    • Hmm… I’m not sure which photo you’re looking at. My guess is the one showing the sows, piglets and Will putting the fence wire around the hut. In that case you might be looking off to the left at the south field road which leads from the main road up to the south field plateau.

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