My five remaining gilts from my sows’ first litters are nearly 6 months old. They are lovely good natured Saddleback pigs. They have been raised in the barn and have enjoyed playing in the straw, rooting for clumps of grass and fodder beat, dashing about the barn and playing with a football or empty milk container. The pigs have at times spotted the barn door and wandered into the neighbouring pig pen, but they have never walked down the step into the fold yard.
As we are taking the pigs to a sale on Saturday we decided it would be good for the pigs to get used to walking as they will have to walk from the trailor to their pen and from the pen to the sale ring. In training the pigs I have got the pigs to leave their barn and walk through the neighbouring barn and in the last few days they have managed to walk down the steps and into the fold yard. To get them to walk down the step I placed some fodder beat at the bottom of the steps. Four of the pigs went down with a little encouragement from me but one of the girls wouldn’t go down the steps. I didn’t force her and waited til the following day and I made sure that the fodder beat was close enough for her to reach for and without any help from me she eventually went down the step.
It is interesting to watch the pigs. Whilst being curious they can also be quite nervous when faced with a new place or situation. It was fun to watch the pigs grow with confidence and venture further away from their familiar territory. They began to get confident and curious about the cattle that were also feeding at the troughs in the fold yard. I did laugh when the pigs got close to the cattle and then upon hearing an unfamiliar noise dashed back to their barn woofing all the way.
I will be sad to see these lovely gilts go off to the rare breed sale but unfortunately I cannot keep them. I will miss them but I have lots of fond memories to look back on.