Monday, March 26, 2012

Today - piglet revival

I was doing the daily chores and noticed that a piglet was away from the sow; and a quick check showed that of the 11 piglets she had, the little guy I'd noticed and 3 others were missing.   When piglets are small they can fit through the biggest openings in a hog panel, but usually can't get there because they can't climb up that far up the panel.  The sow had pushed the hay around and formed a ramp, and for some reason four piglets had decided to go out.   I fixed that, and then went to search.

It's unfortunate for the pigs if they're away from the sow, especially in the cold and wet of spring.   I found one pretty quickly; cold and dead.  And then found another, also dead.  At this time of year, if they're not with the sow and get wet at all hypothermia kills them quickly.  I didn't have much hope for the third, but working my way around the sow in a circle, I found this little guy behind a barrel of feed.  He had wedged himself in so that he couldn't fall over onto the cold concrete, and had saved his life in doing so. 

When I found him he was barely responsive.  No vocals, and very limited movement.  He was ice cold.   I ran him over to the truck, and had a spare pair of jeans that I used to wipe off the mud and water and get him dry, and then searched the truck and found the towel.  I turned the truck on, and used the floor heater to get some heat on him.  He wasn't making any coordinated motions; he wasn't oriented at all. 

I shut the gate and took him to the house, and filled the bathroom sink with water.  Hypothermia is a core body temperature that is too low; depending on how cold the animal got, the blood in the extremities may clot.  I used a thermometer to make sure that the water was 103 degrees, and put the piglet into the water, holding his mouth and nose above the water.  a little reaction as he went into the cold water, but not much.  Not very hopeful but I kept on. 

Water is the most effective way to get heat into the core of the animal; I gentle moved the pig in the water, and watched the temperature.  When it went down to 99, I ran warmer water in and brought the temperature up to 103.  I'm starting to see some movement now, paddling motions that remind me more of dreaming than anything. 

Pulling the pig out of the water, I towel it down, and let it rest in the output from a wall heater for a few minutes.  I just don't see any improvements after 5 minutes, so back into the water this little pig goes.

This time is a little different -- I can feel the pig relax as the warm water covers it.  The eyes, that have been partially open, close, and the breathing seems to be more regular.  Poor little guy.  moving it up and down, the piglet feels warm now, and seems to be dozing or sleeping.  Toweling him down, back in front of the heater and wait. 

He looks like he's sleeping.  I let him be for 15 minutes, and then wrapped in the towel I drive back to the farm and put the pig back with the litter.  While I'm driving I'm seeing him snuggle into the towel; good.  Coordinated movement is a big improvement.  Back with the other piglets, he's clearly exhausted and probably dehydrated.  I watch for a few minutes, he seems ok, so off to do the rest of the chores.

About an hour later I check on the little pig.  Still lying in the same position...  I think he need something in his stomach.  Some rehydration mix and a big syringe and the pig has a full stomach.  Back with the piglets, and this time he crawls into the pigpile and seems better.  looking good. 

2 hours later, on a final check for the day, he's suckling with the other pigs.   He might make it.   Fingers crossed. 


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Thanks for the great post. Just made my day!

Bruce King said...

The little pig did make it. He's bouncing and squabbling with all the other piglets.