So here are Bootleg’s piglets, Pinky and Brownie. They were born June 18, 2016. They are getting quite big now. They escaped from their pen this afternoon and spent some time rooting in the garden. These piglets remind me a lot of Bootleg. Since these are going to be breeding boars, it is important that I let them get used to me. They may not be as friendly as Bootleg, since I raised Bootleg by hand since birth, but I am hoping that these piglets will have Bootleg’s gentle temperament. At the moment, Pinky is more affectionate than Brownie. Brownie tends to be more nervous and gets startled easily, but he is getting better. 🙂
So, Bootleg finally did it, he finally decided to say good-bye. His tumour had a small eruption two days ago, then he fell ill yesterday and died this morning. It all happened very quickly. I feel sad but also in a way happy that he spent 16 months with us, making such a difference in our lives. The gilt Brownie was with him, which I think is very important, so he never felt alone.
Bootleg is buried next to his mother, Miss Piggy, who died July 19, 2015. Bootleg has two piglets here, Brownie and Pinky, so in away, Bootleg is still with us. 🙂
PS. The background music in the video is from our neighbour’s loud sound sytem, playing “Words” by the Bee Gees
“This world has lost its glory let’s start a brand new story now, my love Right now, there’ll be no other time and I can show you how, my love…”
Our first encounter with umbilical hernia was with Bootleg, now a 16-month old boar. It was at the age of two and a half months that I noticed something was wrong: Bootleg’s prepuce was getting considerably large. After some research online, I confirmed that Bootleg had umbilical hernia.
Generally, decisions are made on a farm as to whether to cull or keep an animal with hernia. If it is the latter, a policy of treatment is developed. I have no previous experience in these matters but I decided to keep Bootleg and find a way to repair his hernia.
Surely, I noticed that Bootleg’s hernia became bigger after some vigorous playing and landing on his side. I came to understand better that an umbilical hernia is a tear in the abdominal muscles, where for some reason or other (genetic or environmental or both) the muscles in that area are weak. Stress and other such activities may cause the tear to become bigger.
I rang up the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian looking for someone who can repair umbilical hernia. I was advised that hernia is generally untreated in slaughter pigs. However, because I insisted, I was brought into contact with a veterinarian who could perform the hernia repair surgery.
The surgery was performed on site. I administered all post-operative treatment with care. Bootleg was kept in a fairly large pig pen that had a soft dry bedding. I monitored his food and drink and for the next two months, fed him small amounts at frequent intervals. In the first two weeks, the hernia appeared to become larger. This should cause no alarm because this is actually swelling after the surgery. In three to four weeks, the hernia was considerably smaller.
During the surgery, the veterinarian noticed the presence of two tumours about the size of quail eggs. His prognosis was not good. He did not remove the tumours worrying that they may be cancerous and could spread if cut.
So, while Bootleg’s hernia did not continue to grow in size, it was the tumours that became bigger. As he matured, hormonal changes in his body triggered the growth of the tumours, both located in the prepuce.
At the age of nine months, Bootleg successfully mated with one of our gilts, Number One. Because of the size of Bootleg’s hernia and tumours, I had to assist him in mating. The result are eight beautiful healthy piglets. I continue to monitor these piglets for signs of hernia. So far, only one piglet, Pinky, appears to have umbilical hernia. It is something that I noticed upon birth – the umbilical cord of this particular piglet showed a light colour flesh protruding where the umbilical cord is attached to the abdomen. This makes me wonder if in this case, umbilical hernia is genetic. Or perhaps while in the womb, Pinky’s umbilical cord got tangled with another pig and got pulled, tearing and weakening the abdominal muscles. Certainly a possibility.
Bootleg continues to be a very active and happy boar. I would not consider him to be of the best of health but he is considerably happy despite his conditions. The tumours in his prepuce are quite enormous now and mating is impossible. I cannot assist in mating anymore because the weight of the boar as well as the weight of the tumours is just too much for me.
While Bootleg is no longer useful as a breeding boar, he serves the critical purpose of a teaser boar. He stays with two gilts and one sow and through him we are able to know if the pigs are in standing heat. If there is standing heat, we call Ogie to administer artificial insemination. Through Bootleg, we are also able to have boar exposure for the gilts and the sow, enabling oestrus.
A second experience with umbilical hernia was with a female pig called Blackie. I bought Blackie from a neighbour and noticed at the age of 5 weeks that Blackie may have umbilical hernia. You can determine this by palpating or feeling the belly of the pig with the palm of your hand. If you feel that there is a lump there and that when you press with the tip of your finger, you can feel that there is a small hole, then that is most likely umbilical hernia. I find that it is easier to determine this in female pigs than in male pigs.
This time, we opted not to have hernia repair surgery. Since Blackie is female and there is not the prepuce that will get in the way, we decided to stop Blackie’s hernia from growing by using a binder. We devised a wide variety of binders – from duct tape to corsets. All of that failed. All binders quickly wore out. In fact, I feel that the process of lifting and restraining Blackie has caused more harm. The stress would have cause the hernia to tear even larger.
We decided to separate Blackie from the other pigs so as not to cause an accident that could damage her hernia. If that happened, we would have to deal with treating wounds which could become infected. Not wanting Blackie to be completely isolated, we kept her in a fenced area inside Bootleg’s pen. This was what we called The Hernia Ward.
It was an excellent decision. As Blackie matured, she encouraged Bootleg to mature as well. This sort of exposure enabled Bootleg to become the unrelenting but gentle boar that he is today.
Blackie’s hernia continued to grow, at least, it didn’t grow so much that it touched the ground. Again, that would be disastrous since friction against the ground could cause wounds and infections. Although her hernia was huge, Blackie didn’t seem to mind it too much. She wormed her way through small gaps in the fence and through holes dug in the ground, to be with Bootleg.
Our third hernia case is the male piglet, Pinky. Pinky is now three months old and his hernia is considerably smaller than Bootleg’s or Blackie’s hernia at two months old. Perhaps this is because of good management after previous experiences. I don’t feed our pigs large amounts of food and instead try to provide forage material such as coconuts, fruits and vegetable trimmings, cut forage crops, banana leaves, etc. This is beneficial for Pinky so he does not gorge and his guts will not fall out of and get trapped in the hernia hole. Pinky also gets plenty of exercise so as to strengthen his abdominal muscles. Pinky stays with his brother Brownie, which is important since pigs are social animals and become depressed if they are isolated.
With these experiences, I think that it is best for us to adopt a no-intervention policy with regard to umbilical hernia in pigs. But this is not mere no-intervention; this should be accompanied by a conscientious feeding program and the provision of a healthy environment and social life for the pigs.
Number 1 farrowed June 18 and her piglets are weaned and ready to go. These are all Bootleg’s piglets too. We’re keeping Pinky and Brownie 3, both male piglets, and the rest can go. Folks here are starting to buy piglets for fattening for Baclayon town fiesta in December. If you’re interested in buying our piglets, please come and visit us. Piglets in our village sell for PhP2,500 each.
Here’s a video of the piglets with Number 1, taken when the piglets were about 6 days old. This is Number 1’s first litter and she has proven to be a wonderful caring mother!
Here’s a video of the piglets enjoying the garden. They are about 3-4 weeks old here, learning to root and forage for the first time.
Their father, Bootleg is half-duroc, and the mother, Number 1, is a mix of Landrace and Large White. There’s probably some Pietrain or Philippine Native Pig mixed in there too. Our attempts at cross-breeding and keeping pigs in natural environment has been quite successful. These pigs are strong and hardy, able to enjoy the outdoors. They are never mutilated (no castrating, ear notching, or tail docking, etc). They are also never injected with antibiotics or supplements. I’ll post more about our pig breeding experiences later.
A few days ago, I got some ground beef and ground pork from the supermarket. I wanted to make some burger patties. They are great served with salad vegetables. Here, the burger patties are served with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and grilled red bell peppers.
The spices and seasonings added to making these patties are:
Flour or oatmeal or bread
Egg, salt, pepper and sugar
Curry powder blend (yellow)
Fresh milk or cream
DIY Nutritional Yeast (instead of MSG)
Phosphate dissolved in water and a bit of salt
Mix with 500 grams of ground pork and 500 grams of ground beef.
Sugar and phosphate should be kept at a minimum (1/2 tsp). You can opt not to use phosphate which may result in a drier meat burger. If you do use phosphate, remember that maximum usage levels in meat products are 0.5% (8 oz per 100 lbs, 500 grams per 100 kg) of your finished products.
Now what is DIY nutritional yeast? “Nutritional Yeast” is available in shops and is often used as an ingredient in cheese-like sauces in vegan dishes. If you cant find it you can make your own. It is simply active dry yeast that was made to rise then cooked until dry in a non-stick pan. The thin crepe-like yeast is then crumbled and kept in a sealed container until use. The taste of “nutritional yeast” is very similar to the unami taste of monosodium glutamate. Therefore it is a great and healthier flavour enhancer.
The result are delicious, tender, juicy burgers! And of course I just had to try making these burgers using duck!
I took out some duck from the confit pot, took the meat off the bones. To this is added the phosphate dissolved in water and placed in a chopper (or blender/food processor). The processed duck meat will look a bit like pâté. Place the processed duck meat and add the rest of the ingredients. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and fry it and taste. Add necessary ingredients to suit your taste.
Place the mixture in the fridge to firm up, then shape into patties and fry. Keep the rest of the patties in the freezer.
The burgers are fantastic! I love them and I’ll make thicker ones to go wth bread. Although the taste of the two different types of burgers are quite similar because of the same spices used, the textures are different. Duck burgers have a more chewy texture, a bit like using corned beef or pulled pork to make burgers. I am thinking that perhaps it is better to chop the meat with a knife rather than mincing them in a food processor. Next time!
I finally did it! Made my own balut! A duck hen has been sitting on a nest of eggs and for some reason she decided to push out two eggs. So I took the eggs and tried candling them with a small LED flashlight in a dark room (the bathroom, actually). I saw just next to the air sac what seemed to be large dark areas, the embryo of the egg.
Turning these eggs into balut is easy — just boil them! Hard boiled! Here are the results. Cracked open, they look like balut, smell like balut and taste like balut, delicious! I was wondering of Muscovy duck eggs could be made into balut, since most of what I read say it has to be the mallard. Well, these eggs are good enough!
I think that the main reason why mallards (and pekin ducks) are often used for balut is that the hens are not as broody as the Muscovy duck hen. The Muscovy will try to hatch out ALL her eggs and she will get upset if anybody keeps stealing her eggs!
Anyway, if you’re new to balut, you can learn more about it on Wikipedia! Oh, by the way, don’t look at the photos below if you’re squeamish! 😜