Nest of Dirt

Dirt Nest

I’ve mentioned how sows build nests before. Some of straw, some of sticks, some of stones. This sow built hers from soil. Cool soil to soak off her body heat in the warm summer days.

While the nest looks like a crater it isn’t actually all that deep, about 4″ down and 7′ across. She scooped soil from the middle up to the edges to create a rim. While she was farrowing this helped to route piglets back towards her. Once a sow goes into the farrowing trance she pays no attention to the piglets. They pop out and she just lies there pushing. At least that is how it works with a good sow.

Mahogany actually built two nests about 25′ apart. Perhaps she wanted a backup or more likely she just has very strong nesting instincts. In a confinement operation this would come out as bar biting and vandalism but out on pasture it shows up as building nests, ripping down some brush in the area and good mothering instincts.

Outdoors: 86°F/66°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/65°F

Daily Spark: Crazy people do crazy things. Some of them survive. It can be hard to tell who’s crazy, who’s lucky and who’s skilled.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Nest of Dirt

  1. Dawn Carroll says:

    I have a sow that I have to confine to a 12 x 24 a few days before she gets ready to farrow. If I don’t she picks a pen and fills it full with stuff she finds. Twice she did this and I couldn’t find her for the stuff stuffed into her lean too…she had so much stuff in there that she was panting and hot because of no air movement. She is the ultimate nest builder. I give her plenty of clean straw to build a nest in the 12 x 24’s that are partially roofed.
    Good thing she is of a good nature. I had one sow (her first litter) that was plenty po’d at me for moving her into a shelter. She had built a nest out in the middle of nowhere, no sun protection, wind, or rain protection that was I swear 4 feet tall. The babies would have fallen down the side and never would have found their way back up that nest it was so steep. I guess that sow wanted to see the enemy coming.
    I set and watch my sows build there nest when I can as they are quite comical placing pieces of straw here and there then moving that same mouthful of straw to another area. Some of my sows shred the straw into tiny pieces until it resembles sawdust.
    When they are up in the 12 x 24’s they get out every day to run around. I will clean their stalls and add more straw. Some of them get upset for my cleaning and adding more bedding and others could care less.

  2. Dan Moore says:


    I’m glad you showed this. I’ve read about sows building nests out of all kinds of materials, except dirt. My girls seem content to make a crater in the ground and call it done. I didn’t worry because it worked for them, but you always want your kids to fit in and all the cool kids were using grass and sticks and whatnot per my reading. Now I know that my pigs aren’t being weird, just good mothers.

    As always, thanks for your posts. They help us other farmers with what we are trying to do.

  3. am in the pm says:

    Only problem I foresee is what happens if you have torrential rain & nest turns into mud wallow . What of the piglets ?

    • Very good question. Then the piglets retreat up under cover of brush, rock or stump just up hill. In fact that happened the other day. The nest itself drained quickly due to our porous soil. The piglets also tend to go up under the brush if the sun gets too hot for them. They shift around depending on what they need. I think the bowl shape is mostly for when she is farrowing to help route the piglets to her belly.

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