Thursday, May 12, 2011

Feed a pig, starve a fever.

Even though it is now Thursday we are still recovering from our weekend.  Sick kids, sick pigs, sick freezer, sick well. Yes the well ! When the sun came out seems all things began to fall apart. Sadly, not all things were fixable. Thus the story of  piglet above.

Mother Red Wattle, Morticia, had her very first litter last week. A lovely birth in a lovely hutch. 8 beautiful piglets.48 hrs later Keith noted 6 dead babes, and a very uninterested mother. At my urging he brought the two "survivors" inside. Flat ears and wrinkled skin it was evident they were dehydrated. We did our best, heated bed, frequent feedings but they did not make it. One Internet article even suggested bowl feeding instead of syringes like I usually do

As you can see, they took right to it ! I was amazed. But it didn't last. Two bowl feedings and they began listless and uninterested. 24 hrs after bringing them inside the first one died and 12 hrs after that baby sister followed. Several articles say less than 10% of piglets removed from their mothers for whatever reason, will survive with human help.
I hated losing that litter. Hated it. The grand kids handling it better than me "Yaya you warned us they might not live !" Still researching things we could have done differently. Was it a mama sow issue ? Do we risk breeding her again ? Was it our issue ? Should mother sow been moved father away from the herd so she could not see them and then would concentrate on her duties ? I have learned that it can take many generations of hog raising in order to breed out problems and breed in strong genetics (Thank you Walter) but I am sooo impatient.

Oh how I wish we had 100 acres to let them all roam free. I do believe having more room for more natural selection of their farrowing digs would make a difference. Struggling with our 10 acres we are unsure of what is best. HOWEVER, right next door to Morticia was Leopard in the same sized lot and the exact same farrowing shed. Another new mama , not a Red Wattle but a crossbred, who had her litter on the same day in the same exact circumstances. All of her babies are doing great. THRIVING in fact.

So...opinions ? Suggestions ?  Hit me baby.

The kids ? Thanks for asking. Both ended up with Strep Throat. They are improving. The freezer ? After removing tons of meat, the thermostat was repaired and the tons of meat was moved back in. The well ? Its broken part (I can't remember the name of it) was also repaired and thirsty cows got to drink again. The bowl Piglet is slurping milk from ? Its so cool isn't it ?  Kindo Art Deco meets Andy Wahol. Got it in San Francisco two decades ago. Suspicious circumstances and thats all I'm saying. Its used to be my favorite salad bowl... USED to be.


  1. So sorry about the little piggies...they are soooo cute when they are little. As an old farm girl myself I can still (if I close my eyes and concentrate) feel the little devils chibbling away at my rubber boots during mucking out sessions.

  2. We give a gilt 2 chances. If she doesn't handle the second litter like a good momma should - she's off to the processor.

  3. Oh such a tragedy. Hay I got 240 acres and an unused barn, you got the Wattles..hmm. How do we get them across the border?

  4. We had a Tamworth gilt in a similar situation. The two remaining bottle babies were doing fine until we fed them a milk replacer, and both were dead within two days. It was a time when we didn't have a lot of goat milk. They were a couple weeks old when they died, but my daughter had been watching vigilantly from the time they were born, and when it became obvious that the babies were being laid on, she took out the last two, so they didn't get as far gone as yours had. I was on a pastured pig list at the time, and the general consensus was to give her a second chance, but we decided to send her down south (to the locker at Chenoa).

    Our guinea hog will be farrowing in July, so we're hoping our next experience is better!

  5. I've had piglets to the stomache shutting down stage and their stomach would go into convulsions when you gave them more than a few cc's of milk at a time. You could count every rib very clearly and they've made it just fine, though I lacked a great deal of sleep. I was always the rescue the baby piglet lady. Oh how I love to bottle feed a piglet. There have been a couple baby pigs that just weren't right from the beginning and I had an uneasy feeling though I couldn't figure out why and sure enough they died within twenty four hours. I'd wonder if that was the case with yours. It isn't like you haven't fed a zillion babies before. Sometimes you never know what went wrong. I can't say enough about goat's milk for piglets. As for a nipple I've found those small red pointy nipples with the bright yellow cap work best. Piglets seem to really like those. Of course I have a smorgasborg of nipples for a variety of species. Funny how certain individuals taking a liking to one type or another.