Northern Lady in Waiting

Gilt Almost Ready to Farrow Piglets in North Herd

This is one of the 22 pregnant ladies that we moved over from the south herd to the north herd the other week. These gilts and sows are from our long standing herd. They joined the nine Tamworth x Large Black sows who are with our Berkshire boar Spitz in the North Field. She had come in from grazing to get a drink of whey at the trough by the driveway and was posing nicely in the sun as I walked by. She’s about ready to pop.

Outdoors: 72°F/46°F Sunny, Light Rain
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/66°F

Daily Spark: Business Card reads “Prepare to die!”
In small print along the bottom:

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Northern Lady in Waiting

  1. Wendy M. says:

    Shes a pretty sow. How many teats does she have?

  2. Jasm Yohm says:

    What a great portrait of a lady in waiting. When is she due to have her piglets? How much pasture does she have?

    • She is due. I don’t have an exact date as sometimes the lady and her gentleman keep their activities private out in the brush of the pastures. She and the other roughly 30 adult pigs in her herd are in the ten acre north field which is sub-divided into smaller rotational grazing paddocks.

  3. Mark Hamilton says:

    You say gilt but she has long nipples that I associate with a sow. What sup on that?

    • Gilts, that is to say female pigs who have not yet given birth, often have smaller nipples than sows (females who’ve given birth). This gilt is of the larger nipple type. Like with humans it can vary pig to pig and line to line.

  4. Zach says:

    How many days till she drops? How many litters has she had?

    My first gilt is about three weeks out and does not show as much bagging or bulg. Of course I am always concerned that I have not AI’d correctly and have waited close to 4 mo to find out she was not pregnant ;-) I check for heat regularly and she has not displayed any signs of heat since impregnation, so I would assume she is. There is surprisingly little info on the web in regards to pics of gestation views in sows, especially gilts. I may have to do something about that, maybe next litter.

    • She’s about to pop and drop. This will be her first litter. Here is a search pattern for photos of ladies in waiting. That will give you lots of views of what they look like at various stages. Some gilts do not show as much as others. Gilts show less than sows as a general rule. Some breeds and lines show a lot more than others.

  5. Thomas Lunde says:

    Hi Walter:

    Not a response to this post, just need to ask a quick question. What happens with electric fences when the snow flies and piles up? Do you just keep the charger on all winter?


    Thomas Lunde

    Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada

    • Snow can short or at least drag down the voltage on the fences. In the winter we turn off all of the outer fence which consists of many miles of wire. That cuts the load on the energizer. As the snow creeps up we turn off lower wires on the inner areas. At some points the snow is often 4′ deep and higher than the fence posts and all the fences may be off by then. The snow itself becomes the fencing.

      A bigger issue is that in the spring as the compressed snow begins to settle it pulls fences down. We often get 14′ of snow fall over the winter which compacts down to about 4′ of hard pack from wind and settling, dense enough to easily walk on. In the spring it melts mostly from the bottom which causes the entire snow pack to settle downward. High tensile fences do fine but light weight polywire gets torn down by the grip and weight of the ice. Strong posts are fine but the plastic step in posts can be broken from this force, especially since they are cold and brittle. We often set fence lines down to the ground in the fall if they’re not being used and are long unsupported lengths of polywire.

  6. Lisa says:

    I love how you raise your animals. It is the way it shouldbe. Buying meat and vegetables from farmers like you makes me feel good and that is an added bonus ontop of healthy food.

  7. Kylie says:

    Hey Walter, I think I have got my head around the principles and logistics of rotational grazing, but I’ve noticed in a couple of your posts you talk about a north herd and a south herd, as well as cohorts. Can you give some information about how and why you separate your pasture into two herds and how cohorts factor into this? (I am assuming cohorts are the pigs who shared the same farrowing/weaning time and experience – is that right?). Thanks!

    • We have multiple herds primarily for the purpose of controlling genetics. Sometimes we also divide groups to optimize the numbers of animals on pastures and seasonally such as in the winter we divide the pigs into smaller groups since their on the closer winter paddocks which become summer gardens. Too many animals all in a area can lead to crushing in cold weather. A litter is pigs all born to the same mother at the same time. A cohort are several litters that are together, typically all born about the same time in the same paddock and weaned together but not necessarily.

  8. Kylie says:

    Thanks Walter. How do you plan the rotation of sows between the herds (and how does this affect the distinct genetic pools in each herd – or is it the boar’s genes that are more important?). Sorry if these questions are basic – very much a novice here!

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