Thursday, August 8, 2013

Black Wattle Piglets doing fine! - videos!

We are happy to report that the old fashioned treatment of our troubled sow worked well! We have a happy family of all 6 little piglets and  mom now nursing regularly and the piglets growing strong again.  IT was a close call. I suspect the piglets were within a few hours of death on monday.

The treatment? beer. yes.. beer and isolation. The beer killed enough pain and calmed her down  so that without distraction of the other hogs mom was able to bond with the piglets and feed them. We also did 3 rounds of goat milk to the piglets when mom wouldnt nurse. Not bottle feeding, just pour the milk into a shallow pan and let them suck it right in. The goat milk saved them from death while the beer calmed the mom down enough to bring the family together.

By the way... she strongly prefers bitter red beers, and doesn't like stouts. just for the record! Thats good since the bitter part of the beer is the hops, which is the component that kills pain.

Here's a video of them nursing on their own this morning. Be sure to turn on your sound to hear them nursing and the mom grunting to train them.

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Here's another video of the little ones running around happily this afternoon. Very active and inquisitive little ones!  Towards the end you can see mom in the background trying to take a nice dip in the water bucket!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Close call with piglets today

Today was stressful. The new litter of black wattles almost didnt make it.  They aren't out of the woods yet, but the urgency of their situation seems passed, at least for today.

Apparently  the mom suffered from a perfect storm of stress. All of the following happened in the last 24 hours:

1. She gave birth for the time
2. we just added 4 young boars to the community
3. the heat caused the sows to get possessive over the mud hole (fighting)
4. The delivery was stressful and somehow her birth canal got damaged
5. The damage caused her pain while walking and moving
6. the neighbor's dogs (3 of them) kept barking at the hogs and piglets
7. We were in and out of the pen constantly trying to contain the young boars
8. The heat was unbearable today, hot and muggy and smokey
9. The sow that gave birth is the submissive one of two sisters, she always follows her sister around

The result of all this was that hte mom quit nursing hte babies, and would actually chase them away if they approached her.  The poor little ones, 1 day old, were running around alone in the heat starving and thirsty.  They didnt get a chance to properly bond with the mom due to her high stress and pain problems.

So, by noon today it appeared the piglets wouldnt make it. they became listless and almost too weak to walk. After seeking some advice from other pig farmers, and doing some research, we came up with a solution...

We moved the momma sow  off by herself in a separate area, and gave her "medicine" for the pain and anxiety.  A natural medicine really.. beer. Works wonders with pigs. Calms them down and relieves pain quite well.

It was a big chore to get her alone. at first we had to put her sister in with her, because the two can not be separated.  then we started on the beer. At first they didnt like it, but we kept trying different types until they would drink. Finally adding some raw ilk helped a lot.. and the calming started.

After a while we could bring the sister out and the mom stayed in. I hosed her down with cold water and built a little mud puddle (very little) near hte shade we rigged up . We were able to get hte babies nursing once for a little while, but just enough to save them from death, not to nourish them well.

finally I tried something.. raw milk on a plate. tip their snout in it and they started lapping it up like crazy! they loved it! 6 piglets went through  a quart of milk in no time.  Finally they could sleep some.  We gave the mom plenty of feed and cold water through the afternoon, and repeated the milk for hte babies twice.

By the end of hte day mom was nursing them by herself! The babies were up and running around again! What a relief! all 6 seemed to have full bellies, and a happy disposition again. Just 6 hour before we were worried they wouldnt see nightfall.

Tomorrow will be the real test... we will need to keep mom cool and watch her closely. if she gets stressed again its another beer party! but for today, success! six piglets happy and fed.

Who would have thought.. beer could save a life.. 6 of them even.  without it, the mom would not have been able to calm down enough to be a mom. Sure, we could call a vet, get a painkiller, a anti-anxiety drug, and accomplished the same thing, but how much better to use an age old approach that does both with no side effects, and no chemicals!  Beer... who knew...

And I have to add... we feel blessed to have been led to a proper solution by the ultimate farmer.. our creator. We try to  always rely on him for wisdom and advice, and he provides. not always a voice from heaven... but a voice inside.. a voice of wisdom and understanding.

Videos of momma hog nesting

I caught this unique moment on video... the sow about to give birth building her nest.

Nature is so amazing... how does she know to do this?

In this video, the sister (soon to be aunt) is coming over to inspect the work.

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Hog drinking fountain

Southern oregon has been inundated with miserable weather.  Smoke fills the air from the raging wildfires, summer heat in full force with 100+ degree days, and now humidity sets in for that extra miserable feeling. How does one keep cool?

This sow found a way.. she prefer to drink fresh cool water straight from the hog proof watering system I put in their pasture.  Last year, after seveal attempts at sprinking systems, all totally torn to shreds by the hogs, I devised this simple way to sprinkle effectively. Its no more than a 10 foot piece of 1/5 inch pipe, closed on one end, hose connection on the other, and tiny holes drilled along its length.  It shoots water out in tiny streams 10 to 20 feet away in all directions.

AND it makes a great drinking fountain!



Fun while milking!

One of our farm rules is..

"If your not having fun, your not doing it right"

This is especially true of things that are done every day, without fail, like milking! so how do you make milking fun? Everett has found a way.. turn the holding stalls into his own personal jungle gym :)




Monday, August 5, 2013

Baby Pig Videos!

Here are some videos of the adorable little piglets that joined us today.

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Black Wattle piglets arrive on time!

They are here! The last littler of 50/50 red wattle - large black crosses were born today! 6 little piglets all looking healthy and happy.  These guys are known as black wattles, to signify the cross. they are mostly black with faint red stripes down their body.

I am amazed at how lively they are, being only minutes old! These little fellows are roaming all around the pasture, looking for anyone or anything to suck on!  

This is a great week to visit to see  fresh baby pigs... they are much cuter in the beginning than  a few months later :)

The mom is still giving birth to the last one, laying in the pen with her sisters. you can see the little ones roaming around already, minutes old. 

sometimes the ears take a while to settle in 

Can you see the characteristic faint red stripes down his sides?

These little ones got tired of waiting for mom and went searching for milk form.. auntie! she had a good attitude about it..

finally the way life ought to be.. nursing on mom :) the last one is making his way to the breakfast buffet. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Boars relaxing "poolside"

Well.. the new boars are having a little trouble with the farm rules about who lives where.... they keep slipping under the electric fence and heading to the duck pond. Not where they are supposed to be. But who can blame them in this summer heat! nothing like laying poolside for a leisurely afternoon.

Looks like I'll have to work on the electric fencing to get it up to full voltage again!

Can you find the poolside pigs in this short video?

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Let's walk around the pond to the "pig" side...


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Black Wattle Pigs due any day! - Nesting begins!

Our last litter of black wattle pigs is due to arrive any day! This sow is obviously ready to give birth. She is producing milk, and started nesting today.

Nesting is, well, just what it sounds like. before giving birth the sow will find herself a quiet alone spot, and build a nest to give birth in.  This lady chose the furtherst shelter, recently filled with fresh straw. Apparently we didnt fill it right though as she spent hte morning rearranging the straw. She moved it all to one side (the side with afternoon shade)  and fluffed it up.

I'm predicting pigs born tomorrow!



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Roadtrip: New Large Black Boars!

This week we embarked on a unexpected road trip!

We have been needing a new boar for a while, and have been deciding between the Large black  or Red Wattle.  As you recall, we recently switched out sows to large black, and bred them to the red wattle boar a couple times to produce a cross called Black Wattle. We liked the result, but having the red wattle boar around was a bit of a concern after seeing how docile and friendly the large black boars are.  So... we finally decided to go for the large black boar to produce purebred large black pigs.

And off we go. the only farm on the west coast that had decently aged large black purebreds was in idaho falls! 1500 miles round trip form our farm .  A long trip for a baby, 4 young children, a dog, and a stock trailer, but we did it!

The large black is known for excellent bacon,  an extremely calm disposition, and the best pasture living skills.  These guys can actually live MOSTLY on pasture foraging. We are very happy to have this breed as our main breeding stock :)

here are some pics of picking up the pigs today

Of course first you must catch them! I let the farmer son do the initial catching of the hind feet. after all, he's much younger than me to be chasing pigs around! Kaelyn looks on approvingly :)

First one to the trailer!

And of course the farm dog has to see what all the comotion is about.

These guys are 4 months old, pasture raised. not a bad looking pig!

The boys will enjoy the straw filled stock trailer on the way home, complete with water bucket and a variety of foods.  Hope they like a road trip!