Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Piglet birth and death

During chores Friday night, Stefanie discovered a newborn piglet wandering around in the pasture. It was freezing outside, and we were not expecting any piglets until April. We had only put the sows with the boars two months ago, and pigs are pregnant for almost four months. Unfortunately we had forgotten that the boars broke into the sows' pasture four months ago. Even though we didn't see any breeding, we should have known that sows in heat would be the reason that boars would decide to bust into the sows' pasture one day.

And here we were dealing with the consequences of that unauthorized breeding. Mike and Stefanie found five piglets, but two had already died. They moved Rachel and the remaining three piglets into a stall in the barn with a heat lamp. One was nearly dead from hypothermia, so they put it in a bucket of warm water to bring it back to life. It seemed to have worked.

Saturday morning there was a dead piglet in the water pan. Mike couldn't find the other two. He dug through the straw in the stall and finally found one that was barely alive. He and Stefanie continued digging through the straw but never found the third piglet. 

They brought the remaining piglet -- a gilt weighing 1.3 pounds -- into the house and warmed it up in a bucket of water, then dried it off and put it on a heating pad in a laundry basket. Stefanie offered it a bottle of warm goat milk every couple of hours, although it only took about an ounce each time. As the hours passed, it actually took less and less milk.

Stefanie put the laundry basket with the piglet in her bedroom when she was ready to go to sleep. She woke up in the middle of the night to give the piglet more milk, but it was dead.

The best laid plan of farmers often mean nothing. I specifically did not want winter piglets for this very reason, which is why we had the boars and sows separated last fall until December. If only we had looked at the pig gestation calculator and marked the calendar for possible farrowing after the boars busted into the sows' pasture, things might have turned out differently. But that didn't happen. So, what can we do now?

We took a really close look at Alice, the other sow that was in the pasture with Rachel, and she looks pregnant. Her teats are starting to fill with milk, so she will probably be farrowing soon. We put her in the barn and are checking on her regularly. She's the one who loves belly rubs, so I just came inside after giving her big pregnant belly a rub down this evening and checking out her teats. They are not super full, so I'm hoping we won't get any piglets overnight. Since they weigh around a pound at birth, it would be good if we're there to dry them off when they're born because mama pigs don't clean their babies at birth.

She is in the big barn, which doesn't have any monitoring system. I would put her in the kidding barn, but it is all set for the six goats that will be giving birth in the next ten days, so there's no room for her. Unfortunately high temperatures are below freezing with lows in the single digits for the next week. Life is about to get really crazy around here.

1 comment:

Zan Asha said...

Gosh. I am so sorry Deborah. There seem to be a number of surprise offspring for you! I am impressed with all of your heroic efforts and am sad about the unfortunate outcome. However, it looks like the silver lining is in saving Alice and her future piglets. Please keep us posted! :)


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