Yesterday Lacy, my Saddleback sow farrowed 9 piglets. I would like to say that it was plain sailing but it wasn’t.
Lacy is a lovely sow and is never aggressive towards humans. She will dominate Cagney, her sister when it comes to feeding time and will often take a bite at Cagney but apart from that Lacy is a very good pig to deal with, that is until it comes to farrowing.
This was Lacy’s third litter and I am delighted to say that she had 9 healthy piglets, 7 gilts and 2 boars which is a great result.
When Lacy farrows she tends to become aggressive towards the piglets, which is not uncommon. At about 3.30pm yesterday she had her first piglet and soon followed a second and third. Infact everytime I turned round or went outside she seemed to have a piglet. All was going well and although I had got a box incase it was needed the three piglets were milling around quite happily. That is until Lacy took a swipe at the third piglet and bit him on the face, puncturing his face so that he is now breathing through the hole and slashing his tongue.
I managed to get all three piglets safely away from Lacy and promptly phoned the vet who said keep the piglet warm and give about 0.1ml of penstrep if you think it’s needed.
I wiped away blood which seemed to take forever and the poor little piglet was suffering from shock but miraculously has survived.
As the piglets were born I gathered them up into a box under the heat lamp. The numbers began to increase and the box became quite full, so I had to resort to two boxes. The containers are deep but one piglet, I think the first born was a determined little piglet and kept trying to jump out of the box and succeeding on a few occasions.
With the possibility of the piglets jumping out of the box and into the mouth of Lacy I was stranded in the farrowing barn, with 28 guinea fowl, 7 ducks and 17 hens free ranging outside as well as over 100 quail to check for feed and water and 8 other pigs to feed, all of which needed doing before nightfall. Hmm I was in a predicament.
My father-in-law came over to the farm to watch the piglets whilst I sorted the poultry and then it was back to piglet watch for me. By about 9pm Lacy had farrowed 9 piglets and was cleansing, a sign that farrowing has finished. Everytime I tried to place a piglet near Lacy she started to snap at it, yet everytime a piglet squealed she became concerned and when she tried to lay down she did so with caution so as not to sit on any piglets.
I waited a couple of hours for Lacy to calm down and then Steve and I decided that it would be best to release all the piglets into the farrowing pen and to try to keep them away from her mouth with a stick. When this happens there is an awful lot of grunting goes on and Lacy paces up and down the farrowing crate before settling down.
I was relieved that she didn’t attack any and I stayed whilst the piglets suckled. I also wanted to make sure that the poorly piglet suckled which it seemed to do.
Today all the piglets are well and Snuffles (the poorly piglet) is trying his hardest to suckle but I think he is having trouble breathing and sucking at the same time, so I am supplementing his feed every hour with a drop of warm calf milk.
I’ll keep you posted about Snuffles and the rest of the Saddleback piglets.