Cohort Size & Summer Feeder Weaner Piglets Available

Sleeping Summer Feeder Weaner Piglets

We just weaned piglets last week and have caught up with the backlist of reserved piglets so feeder weaner piglets are available to buy and raise up over the summer months.

These piglets are six to eight weeks old – robust and already had a good start on pasture. Depending on the diet you feed they should be ready to butcher in November to December. They can be kept right into winter if you prefer to add more marbling for an excellent charcuterie pig. In early winter is a good time to slaughter as the butcher’s schedules start to ease up then. See the Piglet Page for pricing and details.

If you would like some delicious pastured pork but don’t want to raise your own then see the Pork Page for whole and half pig options or visit the local stores and restaurants that carry Sugar Mountain Farm pastured pork in Vermont. If you would like to order directly from our farm for a whole pig, a half pig or a monthly CSA box you can contact me via email. You can pickup here at the farm or get delivery along our weekly route here in Vermont. I have two openings in mid and late July for whole and half pigs and am booking pigs into August through fall as well.

Another Sleeping Weaner Cohort

An interesting thing about these two photos is it shows the natural cohort size of piglets of this age group, about six weeks, out on pasture. These are weaner pigs which have just come off the sows. Each of the above groups is eleven piglets. That’s fairly typical for when they’re allowed to behave naturally. I tend to see them in groups of seven to twenty with about a dozen being the most common. Even though there are about 30 in this weaning paddock, they break themselves down into smaller sub-groups like this – a natural cohort size.

This group has been in this paddock for about a day and then at the end of the next day they moved to the next paddock in the weaner grazing rotation. This area is planted with soft grasses, legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil, vetch, etc), brassicas (rape, kale, broccoli, turnips, etc), millets, amaranth, chicory and other forages. The brassicas, legumes, chicory and amaranth are some of the first things the piglets eat but they also start munching down on the grasses the first day too. They’ll move on and then about three weeks later the paddock will be ready for another rotation. Off to the left you can see the next paddock where they’ll go tomorrow.

Outdoors: 70°F/48°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Baking powder applied as a paste to wasp stings quickly stops the pain and eliminates the swelling. I’m not allergic though so take that with a grain of sodium bicarbonate.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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11 Responses to Cohort Size & Summer Feeder Weaner Piglets Available

  1. Cheryll says:

    I just love your blog and all of your posts! We started raising pot bellies for food last year and I consult your blog regularly for advice. LOL. We hope to move within the next year or so to more property and when we do I will be expanding our pig herd to include some bigger heritage breeds. Where do your red piglets get their beautiful color? Tamworth? I just love love love the red ones and have told my husband we need red pigs after we move :) I know your pigs are your own mix of breeds but couldn’t remember where the red genetics come from. We are in Florida or else I’d come visit you and buy one!

    • We have three color lines of red in our herds. One of them is the recent introduction of the Tamworth herd three years ago. There are some of those in the photos. One is probably from Duroc a long ways back in our original mystery pig genetics that comes down the Mainline genetics. The third is our Mahogany line that developed out of the cross with our Mainline and Blackieline which produces a dark red piglet that turns near black as an adult with deep mahogany color highlights. In the last four years we’ve seen a new red color gene set which we call fawn that has a lighter red with a yellow or white cream underbelly and often some black spots. I have not fixed that color set yet. It’s quite pretty. This too came out of the Mainline and an outcross. The rest of our genetics come primarily from Yorkshire, Berkshire – our primary lines – and Large Black plus some Gloustershire Old Spot and maybe some Hampshire. My ultimate goal is to eventually bring all the genetics together but that will take another decade. I will maintain multiple color lines within that.

  2. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Your spark today keyed off memories about bees. Maybe the spark comes from the same information. I used to keep a few hives, and read a lot about them. Seems a famous, seminal entomologist, Fabre’, working in South Africa, made a casual mistake. He equated bee and wasp stings with ant stings. Ants sting with formic acid, which can indeed be countered with topical bicarb, and for serious multi-bite cases, with some taken internally.

    That casual mistake lasted for years and was widely spread as an article of faith. As a boy, I was taught, both in school and scout first aid classes, that bicarb was a treatment for bee stings. Turns out that bee venom, like most rattlesnake venom, is haemotoxic. Bicarb is like faith healing for bee stings. That has made me take a lot of things with a grain of salt!!

    I’m big, have taken and survived many bee stings; on one occasion, trying to save a hive that was toppled by a fallen tree limb in a cold rain, several hundred, because my suit got snagged and pulled partly off me while I was covered by a few thousand really angry ladies. Walked about very slowly with great swollen bags on my sides for several days. (I saved the hive.) But I understand that folks who suffer anaphylactic shock can die from just one sting, sometimes in mere minutes. And that people like me, “immunes,” can have their status change overnight. So if I ever have an apiary again, I will have a couple of those emergency antihistamine injection kits on hand from the git-go.

    What benefits are you seeing from your addition of Tamworth genetics? Anything you hadn’t available somewhere in your lines already? Do you think they might be a good place to start a pasture/forage line for a humid, hot summer place like Missouri?

    • Well, if the baking soda is purely a placebo it is a very effective one. When I was first told this I was very dubious. I tried it on some wasp stings and not on others – all obtained at the same time and randomized. It appears to work very effectively.

      Update: I found this mention of using Baking Soda for insect stings on the Mayo Clinic web site. I found other mentions that say yes it works or no it doesn’t. However it doesn’t seem anyone, Yea or Nay, has actually bothered to do controlled double-blind testing. In the interest of science I think we need to do a much larger controlled study of 1,000 volunteers in a double-blind. Any takers? :)

      Almost all of my stings are wasps. Bees almost never sting me, even when I’ve kept them. I have had a colony of carpenter and two others of mason bees living outside my bedroom window over my garden for years and we get along fine. The wasps need more distance to feel safe.

      The Tamworth are pretty calm, not quite as calm as the Large Black #2 line we have and most importantly I have gilts and boars in that line who have 18 teats. I’m working on moving those genes into our Mainline. That will take a few years. The disadvantage of the Tamworths are they are lean and slow growers. The line I have is also not as at good winter farrowing instincts but our Mainline and Blackielines have strong growth rates, marbling and very strong mothering skills. In Missouri I would want shade. But we want that here too.

  3. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Here in Davis, in summer, on wet places, we have the dreaded black gnats. One sixteenth of an inch, “no-see-ums” whose bites express differently in different people. I suspect genetic susceptibility. I have an elderly lady friend who gets horrid two-inch welts. My son and I get nickle-sized circles of seeping blisters around a red center, lasting days. I’ve tried rubbing alcohol, calamine, etc. Application of a paste of bicarb gives some relief, applied early. No use in the later stages. Think it is a poultice effect. Probably the same with wasp stings. (I’ve no idea if wasp venom is just like bee venom, closely related though they are.)

    That teat count is awesome! For home consumption I’m not really concerned with speed of weight gain, but more with low-input meat. I do like better-marbled pork, from growing up on the yield of scraps-and-gleanings-fed animals. I’m going to have to research the regs about interstate transport of swine. Suspect that the expense and driving to buy breeders from you and take them South and West would be worth it. You had a post about a visit from a very competent young vet recently, on the occasion of breeders going out into the world. Is that purely a pickup on-site, or are there transporters as for horses, or rail shipping variants?

    • Apparently the different venom types are quite complicated. There is a good discussion of it in the article The Chemical Compositions of Insect Venoms which you spurred me to find. I’ve not finished reading that yet. They have a fascinating chart of the various chemicals which I’m still digesting…

      The teat count is awesome and it really does translate to better weaned piglets due to more milk. The Tamworth line does not bag as large as our Blackieline and our Mainline who have produced some hugely endowed sows like Anna, Petra, Jolie, Angela, Blackie, Lady Diamond and others. In those lines we have fourteen to sixteen teats. My goal is sows with 18 strong teats and the tremendous milking volume of the Blackieline and Mainline. More milk means stronger larger piglets. Our baseline is 14 which is already above the industry norm. The better marbling we get from the Berkshire and Large Black lines is another key component and that is now strong in our Mainline.

      Twice we have had gilts who had over 30 teats each. That is just crazy many and I did not keep either of them as breeders. One came out of our Blackieline and one out of our Tamworth line. There actually is too much of a good thing!

      The import of swine varies by state but not by too much. Typically it requires simply a veterinarian certificate of health with a statement that they are disease free. We’ve dealt with this several times and have a vet we work with. To transport long distances my suggestion would be to get breeder quality weaners rather than adults. It will take longer to get them to their first litter but for the same cost and much easier transportation a larger number can be obtained. The alternative which several people have done is bred but not guaranteed gilts which are effectively transporting additional pigs in utero. We do not actually do shipping of live animals but rather load at the gate. In some cases the buyers picked up with their own trailer or truck and in one case they used an animal transport company. He looked quite competent and I think the buyer was pleased with his services.[1]

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        Walter, you mentioned 30-teat gilts. While I agree that this seems excessive, did you consider starting an experimental line of pigs, breeding the 30-teat gilts with long boars, just to see if, perhaps, you might get long, 20-teat pigs out of the crossing?

        You have been breeding for increased teat count for a long time. I can’t see why attempting to breed for a lower teat count in a few oddball gilts with excessive teats would be a bad thing. Granted, I have no idea what other reasons the two 30-teat gilts might have needed to go to the butcher for. If four of the teats were on their neck, or something, then yeah, I imagine those needed to go to the butcher, heh.

        • I thought of it for a moment but I have too many other projects and in both cases of the super high >30 teat counts the teats were all over the place rather than being in just a neat line down the center of the belly. They had teats on their thighs, sides of their chest, etc. It was pretty wild.

          • Farmerbob1 says:

            Wow, yeah, the mutant placement would be a show-stopper. Did the butcher give you a phone call when he processed them? While I’m sure butchers see all sorts of weird things, I imagine they also call when they see them, at least sometimes.

          • No, she didn’t say anything. We’ve only seen that twice out of many thousands of pigs but the butcher sees tens of thousands of animals so they may have seen it all before.

  4. Maria says:

    You observe fascinating things about your animals Walter. A friend just pointed me to your blog as I want to keep a pig for food to experience raising my meat all the way. Ive been loving reading all your stories.

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