Lucky’s first litter started with nine live piglets but now she has just seven. The two missing piglets aren’t dead or missing, they are living on my porch with Tazzy our Yucatan mini pig. I had to remove these two from their mom to save their lives.
At 6 AM on Friday three weeks ago Lucky, a black Hampshire sow, was in labor. By 9 AM she had given birth to nine piglets and two more that were born dead. From the beginning, Lucky was a good mom. She didn’t squish any of her tiny babies and all of them were nursing and healthy. A week later I noticed two of the babies were smaller than the others. At two weeks they were half the size of their bigger, porkier siblings. One of the little pigs, named Napoleon by our AirBNB guests, had scabs on the sides of his face from bites by his siblings when he tried to nurse. Then I found Napoleon wandering as if he were blind looking for his mother’s teat. By now Napoleon and his sister, named Snowball, were a third of the size of the others in the litter. The other bigger pigs where hogging their mom’s teats and getting bigger each day while Napoleon and Snowball lost the battle for food and didn’t thrive. Lucky had enough teats but didn’t have enough milk for all nine piglets so it was time to take action.
I brought both piglets into the house to bottle feed and care for them. Napoleon grabbed onto the bottle nipple and let go, only briefly, to let air into the bottle. Snowball took longer to train but when she got hungry she followed her brother’s lead and latched on to the bottle emptying it in minutes. Now they both follow me around the house nibbling on my shoes for food. They even moved into Tazzy’s crate. Tazzy is a three-year-old, forty pound mini pig, who shares the house with us. Tazzy wasn’t happy with sharing her bed and let me know by messing on the floor rather than using her “pig door” to do her business outside. I gave Tazzy her crate back and set up a new crate and pen for Napoleon and Snowball, still inside the house, but more contained and easier to clean up after.
Tazzy is happy, back to her regular routine, Napoleon and Snowball are healing and thriving on their four daily feedings and I’m busy keeping their pen clean. If you have read, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell you will remember that Napoleon and Snowball were the two pigs that took over the farm. It remains to be seen if these two take over Miles Smith Farm but I do know that right now, Napoleon and Snowball are hogs for attention.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, in Loudon, NH, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at email@example.com.