Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had some piglets born; but the Lord has graciously granted a litter to our gilt Missy. She was one of two that survived her litter, and was the smaller of the two, but was a fighter. She had a fairly large gash on her leg when she was young, but God granted her healing. Also, she got caught in a hail storm some time ago, which we believe was the cause of her ears swelling up like pillows. In researching the condition, there was basically one remedy suggested: lancing the ears.
That was fun. I took a folding disinfected razor blade knife out there with some hydrogen peroxide; and being this was the first time I had ever done something like that, I basically just poked it in. It burst, shooting out blood and fluid, which surprised me probably more than her. Sadly, that didn’t do the trick; so over time I had to go at it again a couple of times; but I modified my technique by poking it in and slicing down. That sure got it bleeding all right. Also, each time, I chased her around until I could pour that hydrogen peroxide on her ear. In the end, that worked much better; and her ears haven’t been swollen since; but they are somewhat deformed now.
Missy also took a long time to get pregnant. I believe we had her with two different boars, and several months with this last one; but after many estrus cycles, which we were able to track, they finally stopped.
Here is Missy (left) with the second boar Wilbur (right), borrowed from the Bunkers:
And here they are again, opposite sides:
And sure enough, almost to the day (which is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days for gestation), 11 piglets were born, all alive. This is the largest litter we’ve had; and at this point, only two have died:
Here is their introduction video, taken around the time they were born:
And here they are two and a half weeks later:
We thank God again for His gracious granting of these piglets, a healthy delivery for their mother, and for granting her a good motherly instinct.
You must have some pretty good hail to do that to the ears. Happily this bit of surgical procedure worked out better than the hen with extra fluid.
What is the thought process behind the decision to let the piglets to fend for themselves verses intervening and possibly having more piglets live to maturity? I can see benefits to either decision, but have never had pigs before.
Yes, it was a pretty good hail storm; and yes, we're thankful the ear operation worked pretty well.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by us leaving them to fend for themselves. In the litter Missy was born, we actually brought two piglets into our trailer and tried to bottle feed them, but they died — we still have no idea why. We've had pigs just die for no apparent reason. In this batch, one we just found dead who had been doing fine before (maybe it got crushed?), and the one that was struggling — we figured with her that she was either going to have to learn how to walk or either wasn't going to make it anyway or we would probably be hand feeding her whole life. With her, we did try to get her onto Missy's teats, and she seemed to drink some, but we couldn't just stand there all the time doing that either. So we made a decision to let it play out, because who knows — maybe God would grant her help.
Anyway, I don't know if that answers your question or not, but those are some of the things we've done in regards to caring for the piglets during their really young times.
Thanks for saying hi.
Thank you David, you answered my question. I have heard piglet details from both you and the Bunkers where the death of piglets is related, but not what steps you took to try to get them to make it; not that their life or death is really in your control, but I hope you get my meaning.
It seems that the piglets are very fragile. I can see where taking a more hands-off approach may be good in order that the stronger ones would make it, especially if bottle feeding doesn't seem to matter.
In any case, I wasn't calling into question you animal husbandry skills, or good intentions with the animals, and I know that you can't deal with a weak piglet 24 hours of the day. I wouldn't ask you questions about the animals if I thought you were bad pig stewards.
Thanks for answering my question. I pray that the Lord would bless you both.
I had a feeling my answer was going to come across as defensive — I didn't mean it to be. I apologize. We always try to do our best to help the animals along if we can, although with some animals it seems there's a fine line between trying to help and letting them do what God created them to do. That's one thing with most animals — sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. I don't know how common "death by unknown" is with piglets, but they can also get squashed by mama (that's why we have a farrowing shed), or they can drown in the water trough.
I suppose all newly born animals are fragile to some degree. And then there are predators too, and even things like black widows, etc.
Anyway, I apologize again. We're actually new to all of this, and so we just pray the Lord guide us. We have made mistakes, and done some things correctly; but we're always learning too, and just thankful for the opportunity and pray God glorifies Himself through us.
I was not offended. You have nothing to apologize for. I do appreciate the spirit in which the apology was offered. I have been following your blog for long enough that your attempt is to be the best steward of what God has blessed you with. If sucking fluid from a chicken and attempting to nurse it back to health doesn't show your husbandman desires, I don't know what is.
I have been blessed by your sharing your struggles in getting to a godly vision or stance regarding man's proper use of animals and their place in creation. It has helped me work towards figuring that out and teaching my children the same.
Thanks and may the Lord richly bless you.
Thank you, Todd. May the Lord be glorified, and may He guide you and give you wisdom.