What They Say

Sep 6, 2015 by

What They Say
Courtesy of Marie McKenna

They said it couldn’t be done.

When I was a child my mother met my teacher in the local supermarket. She told my mother I was an average student, I would never get more than 50% . I was in primary school. My mother came home and told me. I got thick. I got mad. I decided to prove her wrong.

I got oodles of advice about rejected piglets. I listened to it all. I did what I usually do and made my own mind up. To date this has served me well. I have 12 piglets alive and kicking but I’m not counting my piglets…… just yet.

The things I have learned.

1). If you suspect the sow is rejecting her piglets, she probably is.
2). Remove them and keep them warm.
3). Go get colostrum. Sheep, cow anything is better than nothing.
4). Cow’s milk is lower in fat than pig’s. I added a glug of cream initially.
5). Feed on demand for first week.
6). Don’t listen to people who know about Landrace pigs (pig breed raised intensively).
7). Listen to old people who raised pigs long ago.
8.) Vets know little about pigs.
9.) Rare breed pigs can survive outdoors without a heat source. They just need shelter.
10.) Go with your gut feeling always.

For the first week you need to feed at night. After this feed as late as possible and they will go through the night. As they get older they reduce the number of feeds but they take more at each feed. They will get *scour (very watery diarrhoea). Watch out for it. Be ready to intervene if they show any signs of listnessless or sleeping while the others are jumping around. Remove affected piglet and make up a solution of 1 pint of warm water and add a teaspoon of sugar and salt. Syringe drops into piglet every half an hour. Have a sachet of Sulpha 2 from the vet on hand to dose just in case. Use the tip of a teaspoon and add to 100ml of water. Give 20 ml per 250ml bottle twice a day.

(*Scour can either be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It can also just be caused because you are feeding them milk meant for a calf and they need time to adapt to it. The bacterial/viral one tends to be foul smelling. Don’t panic. I did initially and when I saw them with it, I dosed the lot. I calmed down and just noted which one had it and watched them. Generally the next day they were back to normal. As long as they are drinking and active it won’t do them any harm).

You will get very good at noticing piglet pooh!

Get them out onto soil as quickly as possible. They need to root and nudge in soil and they will even eat it. This prevents iron and B12 deficiency and helps combat scour. It also balances their intestinal flora. Try to keep their bedding area clean and dry.

If you have rejected piglets and you need advice feel free to contact me. I know from experience you are on your own. And don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. It can, it just takes patience, and a lot of stubborness. And I am writing this from my own observations. I am not saying they are right. I am sure loads of intensive pig farmers will disagree with it. However, rare breed pigs are a very different type of pig. They are hardy and used to being outside and they have a thick coat of hair to keep them warm.

I am hoping to start weaning this week. I have ordered chick starter as I couldn’t get any organic creep feed. I used this for the last lot and they thrived.

I will keep you posted.

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