Sunday, August 30, 2009

Composting a sow

Hi folks. Not many people knew, but I've been gone for the last 3 weeks, rowing down the colorado river through the grand canyon. It was a good trip, and I'll write it up in a few days.

While I was gone one of my sows had a litter, which was expected, but then died, which wasn't expected at all. My farm sitters didn't find the body; I did when I returned.
I found her in the pig wallow, and she was about half in the water, half out. I don't know how long she's been dead, but she was pretty decomposed. The weather has been hot the last couple of weeks.
The sow that died is red-n-black, who I've written about on the blog in various places. She was a good mother and very protective of her piglets, and she'll be missed.
But life goes on. I've placed her piglets with another sow that farrowed recently, in the hopes that the new mother will adopt the 6 little pigs, but if she doesn't, I'll be bottle feeding them. I'll check on them tomorrow morning. There was some early indications that the new foster mother sow will accept them -- and she has spare nipples, so...
It was pretty hard to get her out of the wallow. I couldn't get the tractor very close, and I ended up pulling her in half when I put a chain around her to get her out. I ended up gingerly dragging her out of the mud using the front loader and then scooping up all of the pieces when I got her on the bank.
Wish that I had found her sooner; I'd like to know what killed her -- prolapsed uterus, maybe? I'll never know.


Lee said...

Sorry to hear about your sow. Do you plan to post more about how you go about composting her? Cover materials, time frames, etc. This has always seemed a better strategy for dealing with butchering waste than trash sacks and a trip to the dump.

Bruce King said...

i haven't had any issues with pigs eating other pigs at all - i think that's more common in confinement operations. When I found her her piglets were over trying to talk to her. It was a little heartbreaking.

Regarding composting, I use 12" of wood chips below the carcass, and 24" above, and then top it with 6" of dirt. I'll let it compost for 2 months, and then turn it over and till it to break up the bones and aerate the soil, leaving it another 2 months to complete the cycle.

Anonymous said...

Exhaustion trying to get out of the wallow?

Photobby said...

Bruce! Glad your back. Bummer about the sow.