|Big Man gets water as a big pig eats dinner at dusk.|
|Piglets in the creep.|
Sometimes, though, the little things make a big difference. Spot was in a farrowing stall that had an uneven floor, and she unfortunately got into the habit of wedging her large frame in a narrow valley next to the wall. Her piglets arrived on Tuesday night, eleven of them, and a combination of her wedging and teetering on a high point resulted in three potentialities swiftly losing their foothold on life (I was away for about an hour with a cold one. Leaving ten healthy potentials and coming back to seven makes for a rough night). As soon as we realized the topography was the problem, we threw down nearly half a round bale's worth of hay to smooth things out and stayed up until 3:00 am until we saw that she'd settled down and picked a safer place to sleep.
She lost another one on the second night; it disappeared, we assume, into the hay somewhere (disappeared piglets happen sometimes, which is not pleasing at all, but is just part of the deep bedding way, I suppose). Another one slipped away on the hearth just now, the same cold piglet from the first night, who never, it seems, figured it out. Sometimes an almost-piglet or two from a litter is not all there in the head; these are the ones that most often end up crushed, or huddled in a corner. We don't get that down about those losses; especially with an animal that has such high litter numbers, some of them just aren't made to cut it.
Eleven to six is the worst piglet outcome we've had yet by far, but oddly enough it is about normal, or better, than lots of folks who are raising pigs the way we are. A local farmer went from fifteen piglets in two litters to three piglets from both litters combined. Another local farm is pleased when they get four or five survivors from a litter. Given that this batch was mostly infrastructure/farmer error, I still feel strongly that our way is better for moms, piglets, and herd than farrowing crates.
We have two gilts (lady pigs who have never had piglets) who were bred at the same time as Spot and Scar, but are a month or so behind in gestation. It will be interesting to experience births with new mothers again, but we are very excited to see what come of them.
|Despite the poor showing by winter this year, everyone is ready for some time in the sun.|