Popping Piglets

Piglets in South Field Shed

Piglets are popping out all over the place. These ones were born in the south field shed and two other litters also arrived this weekend. This is one of those times when the local pig population explodes as many sows all go at once. We had timed our matings to take a break over the winter so we could focus in the cold weather on finishing off the interior of the butcher shop. Now all those sows who have been gestating over winter are dropping piglets left and right and our pig count jumped by forty in a 48 hour period.

There are many more sows bagging up and showing signs that they’ll soon be ready to farrow so today Will spent time getting spaces ready for them. They have timed the weather well as we’re into the warm months and our snow is almost completely gone.

Right after a sow has farrowed we tend to add wood shavings if we want to give her dry bedding. It is important not to put large amounts of hay into a nest with new piglets. You do not have the strong jaws and teeth for chopping it up properly and you lack the pointy toes and massive weight the sows use to pack their bowl shaped nests.

A typical nest for a gilt is about four to five feet long. A big sow may have a nest as large as six by eight feet and up to a foot deep. They make it bowl shaped so that piglets tend toward the center and then sows lay down off center. See Lay-Lady-Lay for more about how a good sow lays.

Outdoors: 49°F/34°F Overcast but some patches of Sun, a little Rain
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Did you hear about the Freudian slip? It was semi-transparent.

About Walter Jeffries

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4 Responses to Popping Piglets

  1. Patrick says:

    Awesome. I know you guys times the heck out of this. Glad to see your plan come together.

    Likewise, despite them being much smaller in size, we are waiting on about 80 Muscovy Duck eggs to pop over a period of the next three weeks. It may not be much, but we got this brood (first “real” laying) from a starter flock of 25. We selected down (and out) and have five ducks and one helpful chicken hen sitting them now. If all goes well we will expand the for the next sitting, in a few months.

    My wife wants a bred gilt or two next year. I told her to deal with the ducks, first. Then we’ll see.

    God help me if she started reading your blog. We’d have piglets everywhere.

  2. hollyb says:

    Patrick, I think 80 eggs under brooding ducks is pretty darn impressive! Best of luck.

  3. Erica and Bruce says:

    Our pig Rosie just had her first litter of piglets on April 29th. They are all doing really well; Rosie is turning out to be a great mama. These are very exciting times for us because we’ve only had pigs for a year now; we butchered 3 this past fall and kept Rosie for breeding and piglets. We also have 4 young daughters who are loving the piglets!

    We live off-grid in the northern Adirondack mountains of New York on 100 acres of land, mostly a wood lot. We currently grain feed, no meds or antibiotics, but we’d like to make the switch to pasture and hay. My husband works at Cabot in Middlebury and has some access to whey and cheese that we give the pigs. We have one spot cleared and we are getting ready to put in fencing. What do you recommend we do to the land before moving in the pigs? We haven’t planted anything in the cleared pasture but the tree stumps have been removed. It is mostly weeds and brush right now. Should we plant something first? Let the pigs uproot what is there?

    Any advice would be welcome! I just found your blog a few days ago, but it has been so helpful. There was a book that you recommended about raising pigs, but I can’t find the title again? I’d love some literature recommendations. Thank you so much! I hope you are enjoying your piglets as much as we are:)

    • I would fence off the spot with a good perimeter fence and then subdivide into paddocks for managed rotational grazing. Many small paddocks are better than a few large paddocks. You only have to initially fence what will be used and then each week fence ahead some more. For the first couple paddocks since the pigs are going on them immediately I would not plant in there yet. For the others I would seed where they’ll not see pigs for a couple of months. See the Pigs Page and read the managed rotational grazing inset and then follow the links for that and feeding. For books, see the Internship section of the Contact Page for a couple of good books. I plan to add a book section that lists some of the books in my library. Watch for that in the menu bar in the future.

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