The Kitchen Piglet

Raised by Wolves

This is a runt piglet, about a third the size of a normal piglet, which we brought into the kitchen to take care of so it wouldn’t be crushed by the other piglets in the litter. Being so small it wasn’t able to compete with the other more vigorous pigs in the group.

Katya here is keeping the piglet warm with her body heat which the piglet greatly appreciates. The dogs call piglets ‘Baby’ ‘Nose-in-ground’ and are very protective of them.

A Good Piglet Bowl

Pigs have a tendency to root at food dishes and tip them over. My solution was a sloped stainless steel dog dish so the pig doesn’t catch her nose under the rim and flip it. This works well. Adding concrete under the dish makes it even more effective as they get a little bigger and pushier.

Thumbelina, as we have christened the tiny piglet, learned to drink out of the dish after two days which is very good. Until then we were bottle feeding her every few hours. That’s a lot of work. Sows are much better at that sort of thing.

Thumbelina Piglet Snuggling on our Feet

If a dog is not available then the littlest piglet follows us around our cottage. If we stand still it steps up onto our feet and snuggles between our ankles.

Outdoors: 30°F/20°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/60°F

Daily Spark: What is set in stone or concrete is not immutable.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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13 Responses to The Kitchen Piglet

  1. Someone asked: “From time to time you have articles of pigs raised inside house. Has there been any that grew up into keepers?”

    No. If they are so weak that they must be brought in to be hand reared then by definition they are not suitable to be breeders so instead they get put to the feeder pig track. To be a breeder a pig must be in the top 95% for gilts and the top 99.5% for boars because their genes then become the basis of future generations. A pig with any defect or needing such a high level of assistance that it must be brought into the cottage is in the lower quartile and thus not suitable as a breeder.

    Consider that in the wild a weak piglet would have died and been eaten by scavengers. They would never make it to breeding age. I’m a firm believer in evolution. I will save the piglet to raise it for food but not to let it breed just as Mother Nature would have culled it.

  2. Annie (Mulegirl) says:

    Keeper or not, it is terribly cute. What’s been your experience with additional time/feed to get a runt up to weight as a feeder?

    • Depending on the runt they typically take one to three months extra to get to market weight although I’ve seen some that even after a year were low weight. Realize that does not make them a good pet as some might thing. A low weight for a pig is 200 lbs at a year and they’ll keep growing eventually topping 300 lbs or more if you’re patient.

      On the other hand, occasionally a ‘runt’ at birth is simply that it is small and there isn’t really anything wrong with it internally. These tend to catch up or close by weaning and reach finisher market size of 250 lbs live weight in normal times of about six months or so over the warm seasons.

  3. skeptic7 says:

    Do you do anything special to keep something so small warm?

    • Out with the sow they have her 103°F body heat and the heat coming up from the deep bedding pack in winter. Here in the kitchen the dogs help and we also use a small heating pad and sometimes a hot water bottle which the piglet cuddles up to for warmth.

  4. Candace says:

    Hi. I’m hoping that you can give me some help. Our gilt( or I guess sow now) delivered 15 piglets, 13 of which survived. This is her first litter and our first time dealing with piglets. The litter came 3 weeks earlier than anticipated. They are currently two days old. She allowed them to nurse for about 30 mins after birth. We separated them to clip their teeth and since then she seems to have no interest in nursing them. We have made several attempts and about 14 hours after birth did give them some MannaPro colostrum supplement. They will latch on but she only allows it for a few minutes then repositions to lay flat on her belly. We try rolling her but after a few minutes it is the same thing. We added a fan and made water readily available thinking she may be too hot. After 24 hrs of failed attempts we began giving a milk replacer. We have been taking before feeding to see if she will let them but the more time that passes the less interested she seems. I know that mothers milk is best so my question is should we crate her or just concede to using the milk replacer?

    • Candace says:

      I forgot to mention yesterday evening we did try splitting the piglets into two groups to nurse but that didn’t seem to make a difference.

    • I don’t trim piglet teeth. See Piglet Interventions. I’ve raised many thousands of pigs farrow to finish. Tooth clipping isn’t necessary.

      What you may have done is make the teeth sharper by breaking off the ends raggedly. The sow is laying on her belly to stop the piglets from having access to her nipples. In addition to causing the sow pain which is why she is likely preventing them from nursing, you may cause the piglets to get a gum or bone infection which can kill them. At this point you may be forced to hand raise these piglets. That is a lot of work. In the future I would suggest not clipping piglet teeth. Nature works fairly well. The piglets should have access to dirt and the wolf teeth wear down quickly.

  5. Candace says:

    Thank you. Like I stated these are the first piglets born to our farm. I hate to think that I may have done something to make it more difficult on her or her piglets. I tried to do as much research as possible but was caught off guard by her early delivery. Thank you again and I will definitely remember that for next time.

    • That is a remarkably early delivery. Glad to hear the piglets are well formed. Live and learn. Keep doing things. Keep making mistakes, preferably new ones each time! :)

      • Candace says:

        Success!!! As I previously stated we had 13 piglets that our sow would not nurse. I took your information and for the remainder of day 2 and all of day 3 we bottle fed them. That is a chore and a heck of a motivator. We also lost one piglet over this time. On day 4 we took them back out to the sow but this time we did it one at a time. Our thought was if we had inadvertently sharpened their teeth maybe one at a time wouldn’t be as painful for her. It was a struggle but we kept at it. On day 5 we gradually started adding in more piglets at each feeding. She was still a little stubborn but as the day went on she started to give in. I don’t know if it finally clicked for her or if gradually adding piglets allowed her nipples to start to toughen up. I’m happy to say that at 6 am this morning she was allowing all 12 remaining piglets to nurse with no assistance from us. Thank you again. It may not seem like a lot to you but I visited several sites before yours. As of today (4 days later) you are the only one who responded with any kind of advice. Thank you again.

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