Our breeding sow, Bubble, has successfully been bred.
We were hoping she would get knocked up in February (although we think it may have happened at the end of January) because a pigs’ gestation is almost exactly three months, three weeks, and three days. This puts us in late April or early May for her to “pig out” in what will hopefully be nice weather.
Determining when she became impregnated was pretty elementary.
There are a handful of signs to watch out for, and she exhibited two of them fairly overtly. First, her teats began to swell ever so slightly. The difference at this very early stage is minimal, but it’s there. The formerly nubbiny teats are now pointier and starting to descend just a bit.
Second, where she previously welcomed the amorous attention of her man-pig, Squeak, she now flees in squealing terror from his every advance. Dave says that this second feature only proves that most women, present company included, must be bred sows.
Be that as it may, we were out today measuring the pig shed in preparation for dividing it. Once Bubble really starts to put on water and milk weight, we will need to separate her from Squeak until a few weeks after she pigs.
Our plan was to add a second door and then divide the interior of the shed in half. We would do this by installing a barrier through which they could still see, smell, and touch each other’s snouts (these are important), but not one that Squeak could breach to harm Bubble or her piglets. We would also divide the outside area with an electrified divider to give them both plenty of room while still remaining separated.
While measuring the shed today and scoping out our plans for the big divide, we noticed something awful.
A collection of long, whiteish worms were inside the shed in Ye Olde Poop Corner. After the briefest amount of research, we discovered that these are, in fact, roundworms and they need to be dealt with immediately.
The renovation plans were immediately scraped for medical research.
After consulting the internet and our friendly pig blogger, Walter, we learned that a single-dose, subcutaneous injection of ivermectin is needed to “stop it dead in its tracks.” The next steps are more aligned with our way of farming (i.e., not chemically or mediciny); we are encouraged to follow up this dose with new pasture and the interesting addition of garlic powder to their food. Walter says that he’s tried many different things to control worms and of them all, garlic powder is the surprising favorite. The pigs like it and it seems to do the trick.
We are feeling grateful to have identified the problem before Bubble became symptomatic and, of course, before she pigs out. We are excited and nervous about our first batch of piglets and want to do our part in making their introduction to this world as safe and healthy as possible.