Piglets Popping North 2013 Spring

Piglets, Sow and Spitz in North Field

These piglets were just born a few days ago in the north field where we migrated sows north recently. We moved 31 sows north that day. They joined the eleven sows already there who were already cohabitating with our Berkshire boar Spitz. The 31 moving north had bred with our southern boars, Gomez and Zorro. This sow is one of the eleven who had mated with Spitz who’s standing in the background. Because it was such a large group of invaders and we catered a buffet party the tension was minimal.

Big Boar Spits with Piglets

People sometimes ask if boars are mean, aggressive or safe around piglets. Our boars are well tempered and fine with the piglets. It is very important to cull for good temperament – Around here you don’t get to be 600 lbs if you’ve got anger management issues. I eat mean people. Spitz is very gentle with the piglets. This sow is a pure white so her color dominates in the piglets she had with Spitz.

A Perfect Nest

Another litter of eleven. These are also from Spitz and they show the coloring I often see out of his litters. These piglets were just born minutes before Remus and I came upon them in the brush of the north field. The sow had built a perfect nest on an incline so that it drains. She dug a cradle of dirt and built a wall of sticks on the downhill side so that piglets would stay up with her. All this is under the shelter of a small pine tree to protect them from the rain. Remus check checked them over and we moved on with our walking tour.

Outdoors: 67°F/40°F Sunny, 1/2″ Rain at Night
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/65°F

Daily Spark: It is a free citizen’s duty to lie to the government. -A. L. Einsteen

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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20 Responses to Piglets Popping North 2013 Spring

  1. Chelle says:

    Really interesting blog! Thank you for sharing.

    Lovely healthy looking pigs. What breed is this?

  2. Ellen Bridgeporte says:

    I see a lot of treese in these photos? Do you have forest paddocks? I know some of your paddocks are grasses.

    • None of our paddocks are forest but virtually all of our paddocks include some brush and trees in them for shade, farrowing spaces, wind block, etc. The best livestock, and wild animal, habitats are margin between pasture and forest. This provides a greater diversity of both plant and animal species and a micro-climate that is protected from extremes of weather.

  3. Simon Fox says:

    Nice sow!
    Does she eat her placenta?
    Do you feed her by bucket?
    I would think that lactating sows require a different diet then boars.
    I once had my pigs like you did, but my boar and sows would try to mate 3 days post birth and papa would trample the piglets, also other sows would come by and totally stress the mom out.
    So now I have a herd of pigs (boars and sows together)
    And whenever a sow is about to give birth, I lock her in to a farrowing pen, and I must say it has made things alot better. Average weaned litter of 11 piglets instead of only 6.

    • My guess is you had poor genetics for pasturing which caused the wrong behaviors. The pigs you describe will do fine in a confinement management system but not on pasture in a mixed age herd system like ours. Unfortunately in the process of breeding for animals that do well in pens the breeders have bred away from the very characteristics that make for good sows and boars.

  4. Debbie says:

    Great post! Thank you. We have our first litter on the ground here. 4 little American Guinea hogs. We have momma and daddy together..and the babies are just fine. They are 1 week old today and venturing out of the nest…so cute! Our sow and boar have great temperaments, she will let me pick up the piglets to check them without fussing. Hoping to make a bigger better area for them as summer moves on. So far, they are all happy. :)

  5. john hamel says:

    I made a mistake with my sow and need some guidance she was 3 days from farrowing i let her out to get some exercise and she went way to the back of my ten acres in the woods and farrowed that day it has rained and i was able to put a plastic up some what over them but i am worried for the nine baby’s what should i do and how should i do it
    thank you
    Upset and sad

  6. john hamel says:

    if it helps with your advice i live in new haven vt

  7. john hamel says:

    the nine piglets look to all be doing great and healthy and i want to keep them that way

    • John, we don’t find a need to provide any plastic cover. The sow should be fine with these light rains we have been getting as long as she is not in a depression that would flood up. Our sows tend to seek brushy areas or areas with tree cover and on a slope which drains for nest building. Do not add hay or straw as it will be too loose. Right now we’re in the golden time of farrowing – warm and pleasant weather.

      • john hamel says:

        thank you Walter i respect your advice and i will sleep better now again thank you

        • I should slightly modify my answer. I was thinking about rain. There is a situation where a shade cover may be needed such as when a sow builds her nest out in the middle of a field. This is unusual, normally they pick an area which will get shade all or part of the day, but too much sun can burn white/pink piglets and that is a case where I might setup a shade such as with a piece of plastic like bale wrap. Even some saplings with their leaves on stuck in the ground do the job.

  8. I’m constantly amazed at what, evolutionarily, animals have “learned” how to do. That a sow “knows” to build a nest that drains, provides shelter, and keeps her piglets close to her is remarkable.

    Unrelatedly, I read a piece today about how the manufacture of Greek yogurt is generating a surfeit of acid whey. I know your pigs eat the sweet whey that’s a byproduct of cheesemaking. Would they also eat acid whey? I know it has a lower protein content, but would it still be acceptable pig food?

    Also unrelatedly, keep those piglet pictures coming!

    • Yes, Yogurt Whey is also a great pig food. We make yogurt in 5 gallon pails, 30 gallon barrels and even in our 1,000 gallon tanks as sometimes we get milk rather than whey if it gets over cooked as happens on occasion.

  9. Ken in NH says:

    Walter, I hate to pester you with my ignorance, but I really have no other trustworthy people to bug. ;) lucky you!

    I’ve got a female that is 10 months old +/-. She lives with a male who is about the same age. He’s obviously ready. He mounts anything and everything he can – including his brother, up until we moved the brother into our freezer earlier this week. I’ve seen no signs of the female going into heat and, as far as I can determine, she is not pregnant.

    Any advice? Should I consider her a dud and butcher her, or is there something I can do to determine her problem? She looks healthy and she’s actually bigger than the males of the same age by 50-70lbs, although she is a different mix of breeds than the males. So frustrating and disappointing. I was hoping she’d have been well into a pregnancy by now…

    • I would give her some more time. With our pigs they generally get pregnant around eight months, occasionally a Lolita takes at six months but that is rare. If she stands for him then she is likely in heat. Vulva tends to swell and pink. If she does not take by twelve months then I would hazard she is a feeder and not a breeder. By twelve months the vast majority of gilts who are fertile will farrow their first litter. The female reproductive system is far more complex than the males. She must produce eggs, build a uterus lining, heat, lubricate, put out pheromones, accept mating, get pregnant, implant, gestate, farrow, lactate and mother. I have read that in the ‘industry’ they figure that only around 85% of gilts are fertile. My experience is higher than that but it is biased since I’m looking at primes, the others I’ve taken to market as feeders before then. Certainly not even all otherwise prime looking gilts are fertile.

  10. Nat Kauffman says:

    I have a group of piglets that were farrowed on pasture 2 weeks ago. They were two litters and are now down to five piglets, but they are covered with dry, scaly skin, and the ears and tails are so bad that they are cracked and bleeding. Any thoughts?

  11. Nat Kauffman says:

    They were born outside but within a few days we gave them an aluminum silo top, which they have been in for the last week and a half. The piglets are in there most of the time, so not a lot of direct sunlight probably. As for water and mud, I provide water for the sow in a tub, and there are some mud holes in the paddock, although I haven’t seen the piglets in them. Mostly the piglets and sow lay in the shade inside the silo top.

    • Are they still in the original birthing nest or did the sows move the piglets to a fresh nest? Normally the sows move the piglets to a fresh nest after a few days. This gets them away from the odor of birthing that attracts scavengers, pests and predators as well as leaving behind build up of bacteria. If they are in the original birth nest still then I am guessing bacterial infection. Give the piglets a bath in a dilute iodine solution and then put them on fresh bedding (wood shavings, chips, etc) somewhere completely new. Setup a new shelter and provide fresh bedding for the the sow to build her new nest.

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