17 of the first 22 piglets born to my spring litters. I guess labeling them as spring litters alludes you to my delusions, which the past six days have exposed.
I thought farrowing in a hoop building in January would be the most difficult farrowing I would ever experience. Farrowing in huts in 30ish F weather in a blizzard followed by over an inch of rain has proven more difficult. I guess Jude Becker purchased insulated farrowing huts for a reason.
I put one bag of wood shavings in each shelter along with a couple slices of straw. I thought I could add straw for warmth as needed. What I didn’t think about was the frozen ground underneath. Last year farrowing in the hoop building I had the advantage of a bedding pack for warmth, not frozen ground.
On Tuesday a couple of sows acted like they were ready to farrow. A blizzard was forecast for that night. I locked one sow up in a shelter and for some reason I can’t remember did not lock up the other one. At first light I checked on the sows. The sow who was locked up had four out of twelve piglets alive. The other sow had one out of ten alive. The problem was moisture along with cold. Snow had blown into the shelters, especially the open-door one. I transferred the lone piglet to the litter with four. All five piglets are still alive.
I realized I needed more bedding and it needed to be absorbent. So I started buying wood shavings and have probably put at least four bags of wood shavings in each shelter over the past five days. I knew the piglets needed to get dry if they were going to resist the cold.
It has been raining the past two days. Below is a picture of a shelter I abandoned because I didn’t need it. The rain is not soaking into the frozen ground so instead is pooling.
So I keep adding wood shavings trying to build a little dry hill for the sow and piglets. It seems to be working. If a piglet lives the first day, really the first couple of hours, it is staying alive.
This has been another learning experience for me. Yesterday as the rain fell I despaired, but today I’m back to my optimistic self. Below is probably the best litter so far. I’ll let you know how many piglets are weaned from this difficult farrowing group.