The three black baby pigs fought and squiggled into position until each latched onto a bottle nipple and started sucking. It’s been two weeks since I became a “piggy momma” and I’m still learning what it takes.
Two weeks ago Chipmunk, a Miles Smith Farm pregnant sow, gave birth to nine piglets then she contracted mastitis. It took us all (eight piglets, sick Chipmunk and me) to work out a feeding routine. I had to bottle feed them and after the first few feedings, when they heard me, the piglets would squeal and shriek crowding the door. Mother Chipmunk grunted as if to say, “Hurray. Feed these babies. They are driving me crazy with their squealing.” When I opened their pen door all eight babies would pile out to suck down the milk I put out. Chipmunk’s mastitis is healed and she has started producing some milk but I still bottle and pan feed those eight babies.
The story doesn’t end here, though. The skin on that ninth piglet’s back was damaged during birth, an injury called “degloving.” Most degloved piglets die because of infection.
To try to save his life I gave him to Olivia, a nine-year-old 4H’er, who named him, “Herman.” With help from her mother and grandmother, Olivia is nursing Herman to health by keeping him clean and coated with bag balm. Herman’s skin is healing and he is thriving under the watchful care of his 4H “mother” who plans to show him, if he lives, at the Deerfield Fair. If Herman survives his first three weeks it’s likely he’ll grow up to be a show pig.
While Herman enjoys his pig quarantine at Olivia’s house, back at the farm his eight siblings crowd the door squealing for milk twice a day at feeding time. Thankfully the piglets have learned the difference between my fingers and the bottle nipple and soon they will all be eating solid food. In another week these eight squigglies will welcome guests who want to stop by and say, “Hello.”
Pinky, another pregnant sow, is due soon. Hopefully, we’ll have a healthy litter of piglets without any more swine drama. Despite the animal drama that goes on at the farm I’d choose it any day over people drama, wouldn’t you?
Here is a video of the piglets at bottle feeding time: https://youtu.be/wMp_wsrufDg