Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I'm back; various updates

What I had
A friend of mine thinks it was swine flu, but I'm not sure. Basic complete lack of energy, fever, extreme sore throat, followed by runny nose and persistent cough. While I was sick I was doing all the chores, but I was weak as a kitten, so I'd go do something and then basically collapse for a while, and then do the next thing, and sleep for 12 hours. Basically not recommended.

Piglet treatment
Piglet with the anal prolapse is still alive but not doing well. I've arranged a sale on friday, but I don't think it'll make it until then. I'll be trying hemorrhoid cream per suggestion for topical but honestly I don't think that the piglet will survive.

Buckets of dead piglets
The long pig had a litter of 16 pigs on friday, 14 live, two stillborn. On Tuesday 3 are alive; the rest were crushed and suffocated by their mom. She's a good sow and was in a good spot with cover and shelter and has raised good litters in the past. I've had it with losing entire litters of perfectly good piglets. I'm ordering a farrowing crate tonight. Buckets of dead piglets suck. On a positive note, the dogs think that buckets of dead piglets is heaven.

Wood chip case/legal update
Ecology requested a walk through of my property as part of a settlement talk, and I led them around the property and talked for a couple of hours about settling. I even went as far as to draft a proposed settlement, but after reflection realized that my heart wasn't in settling on those terms, and I've withdrawn that settlement offer. I'll write up that process soon.

I received the transcript from Paul Andersons deposition on friday, and will be excerpting and publishing the questions and answers from that deposition here. If you own land in washington state you'll want to read what was asked and answered here. Farm plans, prior use and current use are all apparently immaterial when it comes to whether land is considered wetland or not.


Robin said...

Buckets of dead piglets, boy doesn't that sound jolly. Sorry you lost so many. It will be interesting to see how you like the farrowing crate. My brother-in-law used a farrowing crate to avoid crushing but it made one of his sows so angry she would never settle. Most of the piglets froze/starved the first night. Like most things on a farm, it's not a cure all as you can have problems both ways.

Anonymous said...

Come on? A pig farmer with Swine flu...can you smell the irony?

Bruce King said...

Losing baby animals is the hardest part of farming for me. I'd do just about anything to reduce the number I lose.

Part of it is husbandry -- there's a learning curve when you're working with a new species, and I'm reconciled to that fact, but I do hate it.

Hoping the farrowing crates used for a week or so, until the piglets get oriented and active, will reduce the overall mortality.

Dean Smith said...

I don't know if this of any use to you but I could tell you how my Grandfather dealt with farrowing in the 1950's. He had a barn and half the barn was a big farrowing area. 8x10 or so pens with a heavy oak gate across one corner. He'd pen the sows in that corner and hang a heat light just outside the corner to keep the piglets warm. The sow could lay down parallel with the diagonal gate with all her faucets out for the piglets. Sometimes he'd have to encourage the sows, but it seemed to work pretty well. That was before there were farrowing crates.

goldforestfarms.blogspot.ca said...

Oh Bruce...that is disappointing to hear of your decision to go with the "Iron Maiden" of pig production. We've raised pigs for so many years between my grandfather and I...I just haven't seen a situation where a farrowing crate was necessary. A careful sow is a sow worth keeping. Unless something changed with her farrowing situation like bedding or space or? I would just cull her. As mentioned above, a simple pen with a nearby 'sow proof' and heated space would more than suffice. We use portable farrowing huts without a problem. The piglets only need a few days to gain enough sense and mobility to be able to get out of the way. I would sure be glad to offer some help if you wanted it from me. Anything to help you avoid a crate...just not humane. But, of course it is your farm and herd...your decision. Good luck.

Bruce King said...

I've tried pasture farrowing, I've tried calf domes, I've tried porta-huts with pig rails, and I've tried farrowing pens - 6x16' spaces.

I've tried deep bedding, I've tried shallow bedding. I've tried heat lamps, I've tried culling.

The sow in this case is the long pig, who's successfully raised litters of 9, 11 and 14 in the past. For some reason, this time she ended up with 3 out of 16. Yes, I could cull her for that, and maybe over time come up with a herd that has fewer problems, but my next try is to use a farrowing pen for the first week of the piglets life, and then try transitioning to a farrowing pen situation.

I'm not talking about gestation crates, that I think are completely un-needed. I don't think that a week of confinement every six months is a bad trade for years of additional life for the sow.

I'll write up what I'm doing, what my practices are, and I'm open to all input. I'd just like to stop having dead piglets, and farrowing crates is my 9th attempt to get better results -- to save piglet lives.