Friday, March 07, 2008

This little piggy...

We have babies! They finally arrived on a beautiful sunny afternoon yesterday, and I was privileged enough to witness nearly all of it. Of course, that meant worry and wondering about whether it was all going well.

Maya had 10 piglets, 9 of whom survived. The runt was about half the size of the piglets you see here and couldn't move very well. She just laid where she was without trying to get near milk or mama, as you can see in the photo below. I tried putting her into the fray a couple of times so she could get some milk, but she wouldn't latch on and the others pushed her out, and mama would start to get very agitated. I didn't want to create a situation where other piglets were stepped on and lost, so I backed off.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day she got stepped on at some point, probably because she couldn't get out of the way, and I discovered a huge laceration when I finally decided to take her into the house to bottle feed her. By that point she was chilled and in shock, by my best guess. I warmed some goat's milk I had in the freezer, but I couldn't get her to suck at all after several tries of warming her and reintroducing the bottle. Her snout kept getting bluer and bluer, and she was weaker and weaker. We eventually made the very difficult decision to euthanize her, which was very sad and definitely the down side of homesteading.

Mama and all 9 piggies made it through the night, and the most welcome site of my morning was seeing Maya come running out of her farrowing hut for breakfast and a nice long drink! The babies, however, were clearly wondering where their heater had gone, looking all around for mama while she was gone.

These nine are incredibly vigorous, and at one point yesterday, one of the largest made an excursion all the way next door to the boar paddock! He was a bit muddy and chilled, but none the worse for wear when I retrieved him. Here I am showing him to the kids with a rather incredulous look on my face. Our boar, Big Boy, is right next to Maya, and he'd been very concerned and protective all day yesterday every time one of us approached, running along the fence line and grunting at us. But a bowl of feed, and he happily let me take the squealing piglet from the paddock. The kids had been dying to get close to the babies, so this seemed like a good opportunity. Mama sniffed him quite a bit when I put him back, and finally let him nurse with the rest once satisfied he was one of hers.

We'd known farrowing was getting close by several signs even without knowing the breeding date, so we moved Maya into her own paddock about a week and a half ago.

Here she is with enlarged nipples and noticeable dropping; her vulva was also significantly engorged:

Here, you can see her teats beginning to bag up nicely, as she enjoys some nice belly scratches from Julia:

The day before, there was milk in her nipples, so we knew to start watching her closely and to put fresh hay in her farrowing hut:


Jenny said...

Woo hoo!!! Congratulations! I was hoping you'd post about the piglets after I saw your message yesterday on the yahoo group. Sooooo cute!

Christy said...

Congratulations! They are so cute. I'm sorry about the one. Trebs, our sheep friend, had 2 stillborn lambs yesterday. It is hard to deal with.

Madeline said...

I didn't know you were expecting! How exciting. Jesse and I just read and watched the post laughing and crying as if we were there. So sad about wilbur. Those are mighty fine piggies!

Danielle said...

Thanks for the well-wishes.

Jenny, I'm still a bit worried about her, but it appears to be just swelling at this point. I'll be checking on her again soon, but I'm basing my interventions on behavior, and both she and the piglets seem to be thriving, and there's no sign of infection at this point.

Christy, it is hard, unbelievably so with each bigger animal we get. This may sound weird, but pigs are so human in so many ways. It's a weird connection.

Madeline, actually, she was a little gilt, and I kept calling her "Fern" in my head. Jim I think got pictures of the kids holding her.

Woody said...

Cool beans...

Miranda said...

Yay, you got babies!! So, when is the playdate? ;-)

Maria said...

Yay! Congratulations on all the wonderful oinky babies!

Danielle said...

Thanks to all for the well-wishes!

Miranda, glad to hear you guys are settling in enough to even consider the trek out this way. You guys are welcome any time, but it might be a little prettier and more fun in another month or so. We're still pretty muddy here.

Maya continues to look well, and all her swelling has gone down. Wow, was she swollen! The babies were outside in the late afternoon sun yesterday, and they were so much fun to watch: fighting, running, rooting. Too cute! They all seem to be quite robust.

Jenny, can't wait to see you guys! I'm so glad we'll have baby piggies here when you arrive.