Monday, February 23, 2009

Red n black jailbreak and piglets

My goal is to keep as many piglets alive as possible in the winter. I've tried what worked in the summer; farrowing in portable shelters, but lost two litters that way. So with red n black, I made a stall in my hay barn out of hog panels, plywood and hay.
Here Andrea scratches behind her ears. She was pretty agitated all day, and made many attempts to get out of the pen. The ground is very soft there, so even though I put in T posts and tied the hog panels together, she could easily lift the whole side of the pen with her snout. Pigs are amazingly strong.

Andrea and I worked with her until after dark, and left when she'd settled down to sleep.

When we checked on her the next morning, she'd gotten out, and we scouted around until we found her on top of her favorite lump of debris in the pasture.

She's still in labor at this point, and short of scooping her up with the front loader or using a crane, there's no safe way to move her. She's not going to move voluntarily. Here four piglets are all working on their own nipple. Once they've chosen a nipple it is their own personal nipple for the entire time until they're weaned. So right now there's a lot of jockeying around as they decide who gets this nipple or that one. There are 14 nipples to choose from on red n black.
The fourth piglet is laying against mom underneath these three. The air temperature is in the 50s, and these guys are laying on the damp ground. So while moms giving birth I'm carrying a couple of bales of hay up to get some dry hay underneath these little guys. We'll move them into shelter when the sow is able to move, tomorrow.

This piglet decided that Andrea was pretty comfortable, and walked over and cuddled up to her. She dried it off with her shirt and then held it for a couple of minutes, and then put it back with the others. Remember, this piglet is less than 20 minutes old. They are amazingly complete at the moment of birth.
Here's that piglet back with its littermates. At this point we've got some dry hay under the mom, and dry hay under the piglets, and all of the piglets born so far have been wiped dry and are actively nursing. All is well.

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