We finally have some piglets! We were quite disappointed that the AI seemed not to have worked with Priscilla, but her sister Tallulah was due at the start of February so we had that to look forward to. The cold snap arrived at just the wrong moment for her though. On the Friday her milk first came in, just a few drops, but enough for me to start getting excited and to begin checking on her every hour or so overnight. Saturday came and went with still no change and Sunday was much the same. Matt was a great help, coming out to share the night shifts with me despite the road out to the farm being covered in snow. On Monday afternoon I was up in bed having a nap to help me get through another night of watching and waiting when Em came running in to say that Tallulah had passed a bit of bloody mucus and it was all starting! I quickly phoned Matt who called in a half-day holiday and rushed up to join us. By the time he arrived I already had five little piglets dried off and curled up in the creep area.
Em and Matt took a turn sitting in with Tallulah and we ended up with ten lovely little piglets and one stillborn.
Matt stayed with the piglets (and had some dinner!) whilst we took a little break as we were worried about mum accidentally crushing the piglets as it was so cold and they would need time to learn to hide safe in the creep area whilst she was moving about. Unfortunately during the evening this did happen and we lost one. The following evening, I was too nervous to leave the piglets alone for a moment, so Karen, Georgie and Neil all came out to run shifts with Em and Matt so I could get some rest.
The others were soon settling in to a routine of feeding and then retreating to the creep area under a heat lamp. However on day three, we noticed that one of the smaller runts wasn’t looking as active as the others. We gave him plenty of chances to feed on mum alone whilst the others were kept in the creep, but he just kept failing to latch on properly. After an afternoon of this, we decided to bring him in to the kitchen and try to feed him with a syringe. We got a couple of ‘meals’ in to him and he seemed to perk up a bit and so I continued with syringe feeding every few hours overnight. Unfortunately, by the four o’clock feed he had started to look weaker again and he died shortly after that.
This left us with eight healthy piglets who continued to grow at an almost unbelievable rate. It felt like you could lean on the gate for half an hour and just watch them getting bigger before your eyes. When first born, the piglets have a soft hair and almost velvet ears, but it doesn’t take long before they are all wiry and far too big to cuddle, so we had to take our chances whilst it lasted!