I have just received an email about a sow who is due to farrow soon and her teats are hot and red.
“Hi Sara. My sow, Matilda, is due to have her first litter in the next few days. She is very content but I have noticed her back teets are very red and feel very warm, is this normal? She doesn’t seem to mind me touching them at all, I have been bathing them and she doesn’t seem to mind that either. We have had pigs for a year now and this is the firtst time we have gone through pregnancy. She has been wormed and her farrowing ark is clean. What more do I need to do?” Nelly
I have received an email from my friends Gregg and Belinda who got their saddleback pigs from me over a year ago. Two of their three saddleback sows have just had piglets.
Good news. Last night/ this morning one of our sows farrowed…giving us seven healthy piglets. Maggie is due to farrow some time today…she’s got milk. The other one will farrow in a week or so. We are planning to keep at least one of the gilts for breeding. Thanks so much for helping us in getting started.
Here is Holly and her seven piglets.
Holly the saddleback sow and her seven piglets.
Gregg emailed today to say that Maggie has now farrowed.
All is going well although Maggie has been a little unwell during the farrowing but is beginning to eat and drink.
Maggie the saddleback sow and her piglets.
LG is the third sow and she is due to farrow in the next few weeks.
“The RSPCA’s THINK PIG campaign aims to encourage UK’s shoppers to use their consumer power to help improve pig welfare.
Many of the 160 million pigs bred for meat across Europe live in conditions that the Society believes are unacceptable. Pigs face a range of welfare issues that most people are just not aware of.
Consumers have the power to make a difference for pigs and that’s why the RSPCA is urging consumers to ‘Think Pig’ when out shopping and make sure what they put in their shopping basket is a vote for better pig welfare.
The campaign needs to reach a broad consumer audience and the Facebook game,
Think Pig Game Screen
with its social elements, is one of the ways that the Society hopes to achieve this.
RSPCA and Farm Animals
The RSPCA is working harder than ever before to try to improve the welfare of as many farm animals as possible, at every stage of their lives.
More than 900 million farm animals are reared every year in the UK. Unfortunately the law alone is not always strong or detailed enough to ensure that they all have a good quality of life, and are transported and slaughtered humanely.
It is a huge challenge to try to improve the welfare of such a large number of animals, ranging from those kept as pets to those kept on large-scale farms. The RSPCA works in a number of different ways to encourage improvements, and always uses all available scientific information and practical evidence to support our arguments.”
This is an important campaign for me as I have kept pigs and would like to know that all pigs are kept in good conditions and are well looked after, so if you are on facebook then head over to the Think Pig page and lend your support.
City Screen will be showing the pork industry documentary Pig Business by Tracy Worcester which compares traditional, environmentally sustainable farming with industrialised agri-business on Tuesday 11 May at 8.30pm at York City Screen.
I am going to watch this film on Tuesday night which has been organised by Slow Food North Yorkshire. As I myself was recently a pig keeper and breeder I am interested in looking at the welfare of pigs and how high-welfare pork products are marketed in the British supermarkets.
I have been asked what are Oxford Sandy & Black pigs like.
They are ginger/sandy coloured with black blotches and have lop ears, a white blaze, socks and tip of the tail.
Oxford Sandy & Black pigs are good dual purpose pigs, they don’t get too fat, they are docile, easy to handle making them great for the beginner, hardy & good mothers.
If you are going to breed Oxford Sandy & Black pigs then the piglets will be a mixture of colours.
If you keep Oxford Sandy & Black pigs then I would love to hear from you about your pigs.
I am delighted to say that within two hours of writing this post I have had an email from Kim who keeps and breeds Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs.
“I have kept the Oxford Sandy and Black pig for sometime now and they are a wonderful temperament pig, very quiet and as you say brilliant for beginners. They are lighter boned than most breeds giving them more meat to fat. Also they do not grow to the clossal size of most pigs. The boars are equally as quiet and placid.
The meat is very succulent, sausages are also wonderful and the bacon is out of this world. So a dual purpose pig lending itself for joints and bacon.
On my website have written about the OSB and have a monthly pig facts page which has helped those in need of assistance. And should people wish to ask questions then i am always at hand for further advice.
Most of all they are great fun and good for the soul.
I am sometimes asked if you should be present when a gilt or sow is farrowing. Some people believe that you should just let the gilt or sow get on with the farrowing. However if your sow/gilt knows you well then she may not mind you being present. It is useful to be on hand in case the gilt or sow needs assistance or in case the sow becomes aggressive towards the piglets.
If you are present at farrowing time then it is important that you have a pig board and easy access to the door so that you can get away from the sow if she becomes aggressive or is disturbed by your presence. If the gilt or sow is distressed by your presence then you will need to withdraw from the farrowing pen and leave the sow/gilt to farrowing on her own but I would stay close by so you can still monitor if all is going well or if she needs assistance.
My sows farrowed in a barn and usually started farrowing late afternoon and into the evening. I always sat behind the sow so I had easy access to the piglets and was in a position to help the sow if she needed assistance with farrowing the piglets. I would sit with the lights out and the light from the heat lamp would be enough for me to see what was happening.
I also needed to be close by as one of my sows could get aggressive at farrowing time and she has tried to bite and kill the piglets during farrowing.
Being present or close by so you can observe the farrowing process gives you an insight into their farrowing habits and behaviour which is useful information when the sow or gilt farrows again.
Did you know that pigs can suffer from sunburn? Pigs cannot sweat so it’s important that they can cool down in hot weather.
A mud wallow is a good way to help prevent sunburn and heatstroke as the pigs can go and wallow in the muddy water and cool down their skin.
Make sure your pigs have good shelter from the sun so they can get out of the suns rays.
Sunburn – Light coloured pigs are particularly susceptible to sunburn. You can apply suntan lotion to help protect the skin, but not oil as the oil will help to burn the pig’s skin. The symptoms of sunburn are a reddening of the skin, blistering and a staggering movement. The pigs should be moved to a shaded area and kept cool. Apply calamine lotion to the sunburn and cold wet cloths applied behind the ears will help lower the pig’s temperature.
Heatstroke – If a pig gets too much sun then it can cause the pig to stagger about. The pig will start to shiver and stagger. They may lie down and be panting and their temperature will be raised and their skin hotter than usual. You will need to cool your pig down if they suffer heatstroke or sunburn. You can cool them dow by hosing them down or placing a wet towel onto their skin or creating a mud wallow near them so they can lie in it.