Monday, April 11, 2011

Piglets are here...finally!

   When I started chores Saturday morning and opened the barn door I found the babies.
   Swee had eight baby piglets that morn, I figure about 7am. Two still had yuck on them and were off to the side and she was nursing the others already. I left them for a little while in case she wasn’t done cleaning them up. Later Marty went back with me and he took out the one that wasn’t moving and was lying on its back. We thought it was dead. It was alive but very chilly so he warmed it up in the sun and rubbed on it. A little girl.
   I climbed in with Swee and put the other yuck one on a teat as it couldn’t seem to find it. Then I moved the runt closer also. The one Marty was warming still had the umbilical cord on it. We put it back next to her belly. Later we checked again and it wasn’t eating yet but was staying warm. The runt was starting to eat a little by that time.
   Later in the day, we were working on the back porch, jacking it up cuz it was sloping so badly, and I thought I’d better check on the babies again. We hadn't given Swee any food yet as we didn't want to disturb her.
   But, what a scare! Swee was still in the same position and still grunting. The babies were still feeding. But she hadn’t moved and still had the afterbirth behind her. With her previous three litters she cleaned up the afterbirth pretty quickly. But, this was about 6 hours later.
   I got worried and went in with her. I moved her tail aside to check and make sure she didn’t have anyone stuck. She just grunted and didn’t get upset with me. That got me even more worried.
   I have to say that unlike all the stories I've heard of sows being mean, she is a really super good pig. She never gets upset with me if I climb in with her and the babies, at least not the first few days. She lets me pick them up, check them out, etc. If she doesn't want me to handle them she makes a little more assertive grunt at me and I back off. But, this letting me fiddle with her back end...well that was a real surprise.
   So I ran back to the house and got the guys. I was pretty worried.
   Marty gave her the golden treat - two apples - and she got up and ate them. Apples do it every time! Then she ate the afterbirth which makes me gag and I can’t watch it. I can deal with a lot of blood and gore, but not that! She wanted more apples so we gave her another three and then some turnips and she drank some water. Whew!
   She must've been really wiped out. 
   We got a good look at the little kids. They are now considered the “babies”; the last two litters are the “boys” and the “girls”. This new litter had one runt and then the one that we thought was dead. The runt and the gimped up one that was cold can’t move their back ends well, but they were getting around some. That was a great sign. I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had lost them. But they must’ve got enough to eat and got warmed up. They all seem to be doing well. And this morning they are all starting to chase each other around. 

Swee with her first litter. Look like little puppies!
They are only about 5-6" when born.

   Our pigs are all American Guinea Hogs, a pretty rare heritage breed. Check out our website for more info on them. They are pretty small for a pig, Sam weighing just over 200 pounds maybe (we haven't ventured to get him on the scale). The babies are about the size of a large hamster when they are born. They pretty much fit in the palm of your hand. And, since they are a very hairy breed (ours have very thick, curly, wooly looking hair) they look a little like black puppies with their floppy ears.  

   Since Swee was a month past what we expected, that means she bred a month later, around December 22. We try to breed by the moon, which means we put her and Sam together four days before a full moon. I wrote it all down and have to go back and write down about the two that were smaller. When I send in the info to register them with AGHA (American Guinea Hog Association) they like to know how many runts and stillborn and gimped up ones. She has never had stillborn which is good.

   When the babies are about four days old we give them some dirt from the garden area. That keeps us from having to give them iron shots like the conventional pig farmers do. At about four weeks (or when they are big enough that they can't get thru the fence) we put her and the babies out on pasture again. The healthiest litter she has had was the one that she birthed outside on pasture (instead of in the barn stall).
   She had her last litter on my birthday, and this one on Rich’s. Happy Birthday Rich! Bet you never had piglets for your birthday before...we'll name one after you. 

Swee is a great mom. This is her talking to Marty
and her second litter out on pasture at four weeks old.


  1. Ewww...apples with an afterbirth chaser. That's almost enough for me to swear off pork for the rest of my days!

    What is the purpose of registering all the babies with the AGHA. Is that for tracking family lineage for future breeding purposes? Or are there other aspects related to registering, like for piggy census' or qualifying for government farm subsidies, etc.

  2. Love them little piggies! I'm so glad that everyone is doing good! Whew!!!!