Tomorrow is the day that our last group of yearling pigs will go to the locker for processing, so I have to make my final decision on which gilts to keep for breeding. Yesterday morning I went outside for another one of my visits with the pigs. Although they were not at all friendly a few weeks ago, my little visits have turned most of them around. There is still one pig with a pink nose and two white legs that has made it quite clear that she doesn't want to be friends, so her destiny is sealed. The other four that are still here, however, have grown accustomed to my little visits and enjoy being petted.
This one was the first to roll over for a belly rub, and now I can walk up to her and start petting her, and she just drops herself to the ground and rolls over like this! In addition to winning me over with her sweet personality, she also allowed me to count her teats. She has 13, which means she'll be able to feed a lot of little porkers! One of the other pigs has 14. Two of the others only have 11, which is not good if they have more than 9 piglets. Two teats at the end often don't develop enough for the babies to actually be able to use them effectively, so more teats is better. Julia had 13 babies last year, so these pigs can have a lot! Because the sow lays down, and all of the piglets nurse at the same time, she needs to have enough teats for all of the babies.
In addition to personality and number of teats, I'm also looking at body conformation. The pig in the picture is one of the medium-sized pigs. Unfortunately the one with 14 teats is huge. She has a lot of fat, especially around her jowls, and it makes me wonder if she'll have fertility issues. Overweight animals often do. She has been getting all of the same food as the others, and somehow she wound up weighing a lot more. Since she is bigger, will she have bigger piglets? It might be interesting to keep these two and see if they are different in terms of fertility and how many piglets they are able to raise.
So much to consider, and my deadline is only a few hours away.