Our late boar Butlig, once jumped/fell over the gate of his pen and escaped..... We thought that was a pretty amazing fluke..... He was rather long and thin at the time.....
However, his son Pinkie, showed quite a similar talent recently, jumping back over the fence into his pen -after being chased by the occupant of the pen he had broken into..... but he was a young piglet.....
This afternoon, our heavily pregnant sow (expected to farrow any day now) was rather restless -although she was still eating -which suggests that the piglets were not yet immanent...
Fatima thought a quick bath might be nice for her. So we got water and also food ready (so we could lure her out of the pen).... and was about to open her door, when suddenly she put her front legs up on the gate, looked carefully at the situation -and with a lumbering grace, to our utter amazement (and horror) -jumped cleanly over the gate: Piglets, tits, tummy and all.....
The gate is about as high as her fanny..... So that is quite an achievement.... especially when so close to her term.
After her bath, she came home quite easily..... We nervously awaited the results.....
Despite the addition of Coconut Fronds
-conditions in the Farrowing Pen are not very nice
We were woken up around 6.30 AM by a neighbour coming to tell us that there was a large pig at the back of her house.
Fatima went to fetch the pig while I tried to fix the door.
No.Three was very hungry.... and after breakfast she made several more escape attempts, including a few successful ones. Each time we repaired the doors -and eventually had to drive stakes in the ground so we could lie a bar across the gate -Like a US cavalry fort.
Looking at the pen, we could see many large and small stones (put in to dry out the mud, where water had leaked or been spilled from the trough) -but very little flat earthy areas where a sow could lie comfortably.
So, first we removed some of the loose stones,and then added some nesting materials: First some dry Coconut fronds, then some dead leaves from the Umbrella Tree -and finally some dried Banana leaves.
The Banana leaves were very successful -and the sow started gathering them together and covering her toilet area with them. After a while she had built quite an impressive and comfortable looking nest.
We suspected that the reason for her fanatical escape attempts (which were completely new and unexpected) were actually driven by the instinctive need to gather nesting material.
Around 2 PM No.Three became very restless -and we suspected that delivery time was rapidly approaching.
She would lay down somewhere, then get up again. walk around a bit and then start fussing with the nesting materials -before lying down and starting the restless cycle again.
It seems she was testing and improving the nest -by experimenting with the best position and exploring the best place to lie.
In the meantime, there were occasional interruptions from Carolers.
The Great Event:
Fatima predicted 6 PM -and I suspected the farrowing would start between 6 and 12 PM (I had volunteered to babysit from 6 PM to 6 AM).Self Service:
Fatima started serving dinner just before 6 PM.
We were about half way through the meal, when Fatima looked out of the window and saw a piglet. So we both rushed off to the pig pen.
The second one was born about 15 minutes after the first. The next one took about half an hour -and was born feet first. The fourth one was also born feet first after another 30 minutes, or so.
The placenta started arriving after another half hour -so it was clear we were finished: Four piglets, two extremely large and two somewhat smaller.
Their father was a Large White -and the piglets certainly lived up to the name.
Fatima wiped the newly born with a dry cloth -and tried to write their order of birth on their backs with an "indelible" pen (which actually proved extremely delible).
I helped them find their way to their mother's teats (which I also wiped with a damp cloth).
Apart from that, we did nothing. No navel cutting,teeth clipping, injections or anything else. Just pure nature doing its work.
Having been up all day and most of the night (with a few cat naps in between) I went to bed around 5 AM -and Fatima took over for me.
Later, I woke up to help Fatima (a bit) with the feeding -and then had breakfast and went back to bed.
An unusual way to spend Christmas day: Having our own nativity show....
Sleeping it Off:
For the next four and a half hours, our sow just lay there resting while feeding the piglets (which sometimes fell asleep -or even wandered off to investigate their new home).Hunger and Thirst:
Occasionally, I whetted the sow's neck -to keep her cool -and petted her while congratulating and praising her for her first delivery.
Gradually, the kids began to start wandering off -presumably having had their fill of mother's milk (each piglet had a choice of three teats -so there was plenty for all).The Sleep, Eat, Exercise Cycle:
When fully rested, the sow stood up and started eating the placenta. She also went to the trough and started drinking.
Then I noticed that she seemed to be rummaging through the nesting material looking for edible scraps -so I went of to get some pellets for her.
When I came back, she created a moment of panic as she apparently forgot her piglets (for a moment) and rushed to the trough -scattering screaming piglets as she ran.
Luckily, none seemed seriously hurt and she pigged down two and a half scoops of pellets -with plenty of water.
After eating and drinking, the sow lay down a small distance from her piglets and called them over. Gradually they answered the call.
Apart from the occasional forgetful moment (when hungry and food appears) the sow is very careful with her piglets -pushing them aside before laying down if they are likely to get in the way.
For the rest of the night, mother and piglets alternated between rest, food and exercise.
PIGLETS -June 2016
Even More Piglets
Garden Diary: December 2016
Garden Diary: January 2017