Becky decided to take a day off from ‘the farm’ and explore other parts of Virginia. The break was well deserved as she works very long hours seven days per week. Her three Tamworth pigs were getting close to farrowing and she wanted to be onsite for the arrival of the little piglets, but plans had been made. Getting away for a day can be difficult to arrange, so Becky decided to stick to her plans.
Unfortunately for Becky, her pet pig, the one that rolls over for a belly rub, started to deliver within hours of her leaving.
Glenn planned to work at Becky’s farm while she was gone, so I told him to give me a call if the piglets started to be born. Within minutes of him leaving our farm, he called to tell me he saw pigs. Glenn quickly made Mama a temporary pen well supplied with piles of hay where she made her birthing nest.
I rushed right over to watch and document the event. I arrived just after piglet #2 was born. I watched as piglet after piglet was ejected from the mama. Within seconds, each little piglet was up and looking for milk. As each was born, I called Becky with the update. She questioned me as to the condition of each piglet and, of course, her favorite sow. All were doing well…not one sign of any distress or discomfort. The screeching of the power saw, the pounding of the hammer and the jiving of the radio’s music coming from Glenn’s construction site just feet away did not seem to disturb any pig. Mama was intent on birthing her babies and the babies were intent on finding milk as fast as possible. The first born, having the longest time to drink, fell peacefully asleep at his nipple…no distress here!
After seven little oinkers arrived, I thought the birthing was finished as some time had passed without any more new arrivals. I was wrong.
I took a walk to look at the other pigs in the main barn. When I returned, Glenn said another piglet had been born. And, to my discovery, another two piglets had been born in the mere minutes of my absence. Then, the final piglet slid out tangled in the afterbirth. This little guy was covered. Glenn cleared him from the gooey mess and placed this last piglet at a nipple. I really think if we had not been present, this last piglet would not have survived.
In total, ten piglets arrived and all alive…three solid red (more like pink), like their Mama, and seven spotted black and pink - six males and four females. The Papa pig is a solid black Berkshire. They are all so very cute and fun to watch as they jockey for position along their Mama’s belly and sometimes are a bit confused as they stumble at her butt or over her head.
After a few hours, Mama finally got to her feet, sauntered over for a drink of water and wallowed in a favorite mud hole. The hard work was done and she took a break herself. The ten babies cuddled into a mass and took a nap.
|all 10 piglets eating - the unlucky ones are on the bottom tier|
By the end of a long day (I do not think farmers have short days.), Glenn had finished building one complete pig pen. He filled the pen with hay and placed a heat lamp in one corner. Then, he moved the piglets two at a time into their new quarters. As Glenn held two piglets, he determined their sex and I sprayed their navels with iodine. Mama pig was getting irritated as her little babies were leaving her side. Once eight were moved, she followed them into the new pen.
Glenn fed the Mama some peanuts and the little piggies went to sleep under the heat lamp.
Then, Glenn released the other two pregnant Tamworths from their pasture and they wondered into the shed looking for treats and water. They saw the babies, took one look, and went back to eating.
|The two pregnant Tamworth gilts waiting their turn to become Mamas!|
Any day now, these two should be having babies of their own. And, I hope, Becky will be around to enjoy the entire birthing process.
The experience was wonderful and enlightening for me.
Update on Puppy - Glenn took Puppy down to the main flock this afternoon and left him with Avalanche and the entire flock of ewes and lambs. When he returned back to the house without Puppy, I made him go back and retrieve the little tike. Puppy is only 6 weeks old. What was Glenn thinking? Besides, I observed a Bald Eagle (my first eagle sighting on our farm for me) soaring the pastures this morning. Looking for a tasty morsel to eat? Do eagles eat puppies? I did not want to take any chances. So, Glenn went back down to the lower pasture and returned with Puppy riding in the tool box. Puppy looked content.