Mud Pile

North Herd Sows Enjoying Mud

There are about sixty sows in the north herd nearing the end of their gestation or having just farrowed. These are in with Spitz, our Berkshire boar. In the photo above their enjoying the mud near their whey trough on a sunny day.

Pigs use mud to protect their skin from the sun, from insects, as a moisturizing beauty cream and for cooling off. Having a wallow is important to them, especially in the hot summer months. Thus the phrase, “Happy as a pig in mud.”

North of their mud patch, to the right and rear of this photo, is the path leading out to the north field where they graze. It’s about an eight acre mix of patches of grasses, clovers, brush and trees around the edges – perfect pig pasture.

Outdoors: 74°F/59°F Mostly Overcast, Some Sun, 2″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/64°F

Daily Spark: Fighting war is like blocking shadows.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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4 Responses to Mud Pile

  1. todd caverly says:

    thank you for what you do, and your willingness to share as being part of that. I have 2 questions, that I hope have simple answers (perhaps already on the site, just not found by me).
    1) What do you recommend for whey tubs? I have been using bathtubs, but they are heavy, and harder to get out in the woods (we are trying to move the feeding station further from our house and esp/ the neighbors). I have looked at stock tanks, but get unsure about the best depth to use? Also to bury or not? I have buried the tubs (less playing/ dumping, but they now like to climb in and bathe).
    2) You seem to have most of the piglets born right in community, how do you handle keeping them contained? I use electric, and a very young piglet would require a wire just off of the ground (soon to be buried by rooting).

    thank you for you help.
    God bless,

    • We have a wide variety of feeders including:
      – old cast iron cookware for piglets;
      – plastic barrels cut to varying heights;
      – commercial troughs of the heavy rubber type from 50 to 300 gallons and
      – bathtubs which as you note are not terribly portable.

      Different sizes work for different sized pigs. Putting a rock in the bottom can help small pigs get out more easily.

      The piglets tend to stay right with the sows or hunker down to hide when she goes off to feed. Later they follow her around the fields. We use electric fencing for the bigger pigs but don’t fence much for the little ones since they do stay with the herds. If you have busy roads or close neighbors you would want to fence more strongly. If the electric wire is getting buried by rooting then put it a bit higher. A physical barrier, even as simple as some sticks or a low stone wall, outside the electric fence does wonders.

  2. Anne says:

    Hi Walter, I have a gilt I am getting ready to breed. Right now I have my gilt at a barn with no electricity. So I am getting ready to move her to a different barn that has electricity. The barn I am moving her to has a few dogs who are huge barkers. I think they might stress her out. How long do you think I should let her adjust to the dogs before I breed her? I will probably move the dogs around the time of her farrowing. Im thinking about getting a wooden shed to use as a farrowing pen for her. Do you have any ideas for homemade farrowing pens? Do you think the wooden shed would be okay for her to farrow in? Its going to be winter when she farrows, so I think it might be best to find and indoor area. Thank you so much! I love your website!

    • Hard call. If the barking dogs are too much it could well stress her during gestation causing a small litter or even the loss of the litter.

      Winter is a far, far harder time of year to farrow and I don’t recommend it if possible, especially for a first time mother.

      We don’t do farrowing crates but you could easily make something like our winter nurseries which are open 8’x12′ stalls. The sow has a protected space that she can go in and out of where she can build a nest and piglets are sheltered from wind. You might want to put up bumper boards along the walls about the top of the sows back bone height as she is lying down to provide a space for piglets to go under if she pushes up against a wall. This helps avoid crushing. The biggest factor will be her mothering skills, proper lay down, etc. An open greenhouse makes a very good winter space. Don’t closer her in as she needs good fresh air.

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