Charlie’s Latest Piglets
These are some of Charlie’s latest piglets, just born at the time of the photo. She was still in labor as the paparazzi, that is yours truly, snapped this photo. As a Yorkshire she’s a very white sow with a very little black mustache. Her hint of a hairline in black on her nose is why she got named after the great comedian Charlie Chaplin. She, however, has never shown any inkling towards theater but instead seems happy to spend her time out grazing on Sugar Mountain.
White is a dominant color gene so her piglets are white. There’s just a hint of a cape on two of them which may become even less noticeable in time. Because Charlie throws white piglets I know that she is a pure white sow. These piglets though are carrying the black gene color since the father was black – our Berkshire boar Spitz. Thus if any of them become breeders they will stand a good chance of throwing multi-colored piglets.
Color genetics is actually a bit more complicated than the simple pair of genes commonly taught in school but for the purposes of tracking white-black-red-yellow it’s almost enough to know. Noses, crowns, socks and other marks are also controlled by various gene sets that I’ve tracked through our herds. All quite fascinating – like a game of MasterMind.
To the unfamiliar all white pigs or all red pigs might look identical but to those who deal with them daily they each look different. It is common for the pigs to have some small birthmark like Charlie’s mustache even though they’re otherwise white. Sometimes it is as subtle as a swirl pattern in the hair. Other times it is a small color mark. One sow was named snake eyes for the two dots, one on each hip. Another sow, Mouse, had the Disney character Mickey Mouse on her hip. One of our very first sows was named Soviet because she came with the Soviet Flag, the Hammer and Sickle, on her hip. Another, named Australia, was born with a birth mark that looked just like the continent of Australia. I have a tendency to name them after their markings.
Charlie is now the matron sow, the boss, the oldest of the ladies in the field at five years of age. With the butcher shop coming on line this spring we have increased our breeder herd so she has many new younger sows to keep track of out in the pastures. A large cluster of younger new sows farrowed just before her so there is a great sound of piglets.
Outdoors: 69°F/50°F Sunny, 1″ Rain Over Night
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
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