Saturday, August 25, 2012


When pigs are newborn, their ears are flat against their heads, and a little shiny.  These guys are all of an hour old, and doing what their instincts demand -- find a nipple and latch on for dear life. 

This is a litter of 13 pigs from sow #29; shes been a particularly good sow, dependable, raises good pigs, and calm, for the most part; but a little barky when her piglets squeal, which is actually not a bad trait when shes out on pasture with them. 

One of the little pigs isn't oriented, and is smaller than the others.  There's been a trend in small farms to espouse "letting nature take its course" -- basically, toss the animals out on the land and see if they live or die.  That seems a little callous to me, and that's what I'm thinking as I watch this little guy.  He's pushing up to mom, but doesn't seem to have figured out the part about opening his mouth and suckling 

On these "darwin farms", which is what I've been calling them, they'd probably watch him die.  One of the nice things about being a smaller farm is that I have the time to spend with the animals, and I do here.  I pick up the little pig, and using my thumb gently open his mouth and put him on a nipple, and then milk the sow a little so that some milk spurts into his mouth.   I watch the sow to make sure that I'm not annoying her, but she's out, as most sows are just after birth; they'll lay very still for 24 hours as their piglets sort themselves out.  I think that it is very pleasurable for them to suckle the pigs; #29 is making a deep grunting sound as the litter massages her teats. 

Satisfied that the sow is taking no notice of my intervention i watch carefully to make sure that this little guy is sucking and swallowing, occasionally helping him by massaging his teat.   after 15 minutes of this he seems to be getting the hang of it, and I go about my chores. 

When I check on him two hours later he's in the row of pigs, nipple in place.    I know that I feel better having intervened. 

1 comment:

SmithGang said...

This is a very compassionate and sweet blog post. I loved it. It's awesome to be with animals and connect and step in like that and do what ya can. I recently tried with 2 baby goats but it was just alittle too late but I tried. Love being on the farm.may you have continued sucsess.