A Pig in the House!

Probably the most risky time in a pig’s life is during the first three days after being born. During those first precarious days, the piglet is a very different animal from the tough and hardy pig that it will soon become.

day old berkshire piglet

At a day old, the piglet hasn’t even ‘grown into his skin’

The ratio of a new born pig to it’s mother is 200:1 and at only a few pounds in weight, the baby piglet is in real danger of being inadvertently crushed by it’s mother. During the first few days, the baby has to learn to find it’s source of milk while at the same time stay out of mother’s way while she lies down or moves around.

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Our farrowing rail gives a corridor for piglets to roll into.

65% of pig deaths occur during the first three days following birth and the most common reason is from crushing. To give our piglets a higher chance of survival, we have installed farrowing rails around the edge of the stall. This gives a small corridor into which the small piglets can roll, staying out of harms way. Never the less we inevitably lose piglets.

Our sow farrowed at the beginning of March and has ten healthy piglets all doing well. Unfortunately, an eleventh piglet has not faired so well, being stood on and incurring a badly crushed leg. Small and weak, with very little body fat, a baby piglet is very sensitive to the cold and if unable to move around and stay with the litter will very quickly become chilled.

So our little pig was found injured and very chilled. Her little body was limp and lifeless, so what better remedy than a nice warm oven! She fitted perfectly into a clementine box and was placed in the oven of our wood stove.DSCF7607

After a couple of hours she was nicely ‘done’ and was starting to lift her head looking for food.DSCF7608

With a badly injured leg, she wouldn’t have stood a chance back in with her boisterous siblingsĀ and so she happily became our house pig for a week. For some reason she didn’t seem to know how to suck on a bottle – perhaps that was why she was weak and had been left out in the cold? DSCF7663But the survival instinct is very strong and against all odds, she quickly learnt to lap milk out of a bowl, much like a cat and it wasn’t long before we were unable to open the fridge door without her waking for a feed!

Well, as all babies do, she got bigger and stronger and outgrew her box. She still wasn’t strong enough to go back with the others so she then became my greenhouse pig, spending warm days in the greenhouse and cold nights in the kitchen. DSCF7671For a few days I had a gardening buddy!

While I planted seeds, she rooted happily in the warm earth; thank goodness we never put chemicals in our soil!

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All this gardening is very tiring!

Yesterday, we decided that she was ready to return to her mother and that we were finished as foster parents. However, her mother thought otherwise. After ten days away, she was not going to accept her back – she smelt different and she sounded different. It took a few hours of coaxing and talking to a nervous sow to convince her that this piglet was one of hers. Eventually she conceded and we left them, hoping for the best.

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Peace in the barn this morning.

The happy ending to the story is that when we went to the barn this morning our orphaned piglet has been fully accepted and everyone is happy again.

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About Jane Fowler

We are working towards a sustainable lifestyle, homeschooling our children, growing all our own food and creating art. Join us in our journey, learning with us along the way.
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15 Responses to A Pig in the House!

  1. That sure puts a new spin on putting the ham in the oven! Great article

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  2. Tammy says:

    oh, this is adorable! I would be so worried about the little piglets when they’re born – must be sort of stressful. What a beautiful blog/photos/post – congratulations!

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  3. Looks like our families have lots in common. Saw your ‘like’ at my blog today and thought I’d drop in … and decided to follow … I hope you’ll do the same. What first drew my attention was the Rayburn in your kitchen … we have a Rayburn 216M! We love it … what a coincidence! D

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  4. df says:

    What a gorgeous story! You did yourselves proud indeed!

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  5. Chas Spain says:

    Well that’s one of the nicest things I’ve read in a while. Really heartening. So lovely of you to drop my my blog and lovely to find yours here. (I just won’t let my kids anywhere near here as the sight of a piglet would be way too exciting – they are so keen to have one.)

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  6. Rachel says:

    What adorable pigs!

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  7. nruit says:

    So nice to hear that your little house piggie was accepted back! Lovely, beautiful pigs.

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  8. Flora says:

    What a lovely story and happy ending! Thanks for this.

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  9. nruit says:

    Wondering how your little piggie girl is doing?

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  10. Stephanie says:

    What type of milk did you feed the piglet when she was indoors?

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  11. Jane Fowler says:

    Reblogged this on Blueberry Hills Farm and commented:

    We’ve not got any piglets here this year. Reading this post from a few years ago, reminded how much fun (and extra work) baby animals are.

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