Typhoon Odette was very destructive. Our neighbors that kept poultry in cages suffered losses. Our ducks and chickens were unharmed because they were free ranging and found their own safe places. The couple chickens in a small coop under the house were okay. Even the newly hatched ducklings were fine beneath their mother’s wings. Majority of ducks and chickens stayed under the house, protected from wind, rain and falling and flying debris. One young chicken stayed in her comfortable roosting place, a beam over the entrance of the house, about 12 feet high above the ground. It was a safe place because the roof of the house protected her.
The biggest impact was on the pigs. When the typhoon landed, I had a boar, two gilts and one very pregnant sow due in 2 weeks. A portion of the boar pen roof and fence was damaged by a fallen coconut tree. The sow housing was surrounded by fallen branches and trunks of gmelina, mango, ficus and various other trees. The pen where the two gilts stayed together was about a foot deep with muddy water.
The morning just after the typhoon we had to get help clearing the paths. It wasn’t easy going under and over fallen debris to feed the pigs. The boar and gilts were hungry and eager to eat. However, the sow seemed the most distressed. She ate, drank and lay down exhausted.
When the sow farrowed two weeks later, she had so much troubles. She was distraught, feverish, and seemed determined to lay on all her piglets. She had 15 piglets and when it seemed like they were all going to die, we decided to collect what was left and raise them ourselves. The piglets were not even two days old when we took them away from the sow.
The sow recovered and the piglets that survived made it to weaning age and were promptly sold. All seemed well, but there were a few subtle changes that I felt were an effect of the terrible distress brought by the typhoon.
For sure, all the pigs are more cautious and nervous and irritable than usual. The least affected are the two gilts. This is probably because they are housed together and had each other for social support. The boar, nearing 7 years of age, seemed unaffected. Beneath the debris of roofing sheets and broken lumber, he was more concerned with getting fed. However, he is now more easily agitated by the presence of people particularly if they are making noises around his pen.
The most tragic impact was upon the sow, now nearing 4 years of age. The failure to care for her piglets was the first most obvious tragedy. Then over a month ago, her distress culminated in inappetence. I was puzzled and considered all sorts of viral or bacterial infections. But the symptoms were not there. The behavior linked to inappetence was so strange: more motivated rooting, crossing of back legs while walking, yawning, vocalizations in response to the boar. There were moments when she seemed to be getting better and started eating, but this would stop and she would return again to being a terribly picky eater. What she ate a little of today, she won’t eat tomorrow. She drank but not as plentiful as her usual self, and she would turn over her drinking bowl as if looking for something else beneath it.
The sow escaped from her pen once and visited the boar. I have put them together now and she is free to root in a large space. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible, free to roam and choose the food she wishes to eat, and to have company. The symptoms, I think, are more psychological (and at the same time hormonal) than anything else.
I read that influencing the serotonin in the brain may be a solution but I don’t have the means to do this on this island. Typically, this sow would’ve been culled a year or two earlier. But I don’t cull hard, unfortunately, because the facilities available for doing this to large animals is too cruel for my standards.
This year, I have been working hard on a lot of changes that I didn’t get the chance to do over the past 12 years. Now my pigs have more space and freedom to root and forage. I continue to learn by observing the areas where they root and see how seasonal foraging would allow the growth of plants. With a very small herd, it is sooner than later possible to move away from large domesticated pigs that I currently have – a mix of typical industry breeds such as duroc, largewhite, landrace and pietrain – and transition to the much smaller and robust Philippine native pig. By the time I am ready to transition, the right breed for this island environment will hopefully be available. The fenced areas for the pigs may also be used for goats and perhaps other meat birds such as Rhode Island Reds which are quick finishers and aren’t as wild and rowdy as the native chickens.
Lately, I’ve sold enough of the ducks and chickens so that the crops would have a better chance of growing. I’ll be transitioning to growing more crops that we can eat, more native plants and trees for the wildlife, and hopefully diversifying into simple aquaculture. I already have tilapia but would like to add “hito” or mudfish) and freshwater lobsters (crayfish). Aquaculture is quite important to me because I am experiencing the effect of pollution on marine resources on this island and I think that fish and seafood provide essential nutrients that other sources cannot.
Overall, my values and goals have not changed. I grow food for our consumption, not for commerce. If there’s anything to sell it’s because there’s surplus. When we take good care of nature she is very capable of providing abundantly.
Number 3’s Fifth Parity Serviced by Pinky Boar March 1, 2019 Farrowed June 25, 2019
May 29, Number 3 was transferred to the Maternity Pen. She ate plenty of pineapples. She looked happy and comfortable. By evening, she started that characteristic grunting sound, as if calling piglets to suckle. This could be a sign of hormonal changes.
June 7, Number 3 was given an anthelmintic (Levamisole Hcl).
June 8, Number 3’s vulva was swollen. She had this problem several times before but not this close to farrowing. I notice that she never had this problem during lactating. I wonder if this was a sign of hormonal problems or more serious health/reproductive problem. The vulva becomes swollen and there is bleeding. Often, a boil or pustule is visible which becomes enlarged and bursts, reducing in size. However, this time, if there was a boil, it was discharging from the inside. The discharge was a mix of blood and clear liquid. I often use Hexa-mide cream (Hexachlorophene Sulfanilamide) which clears the wound, swelling and irritation.
June 17, Number 3’s vulva looked normal and no discharge visible.
June 24, nest building started at 5:30PM.
June 25, Number 3 was given her usual feed at 6AM and 4PM while she continued nest-building. She started farrowing at around 9PM. Number 3 gave birth to a small litter of 7 piglets.
June 30, Number 3 accidentally stepped on a piglet and killed it. The accident was at the trough where the ground gets wet, slippery and very hard. That area needs to be re-designed.
Observations: The small litter size is probably due to the condition of the boar. I decided to reduce the boar’s daily feed to reduce his weight. Unfortunately, this actually meant he wasn’t as strong and agile and thus kept falling off the sow during mating. When I started giving the boar the usual feed, he was much better. We didn’t need to cut piglets’ teeth. Perhaps because of the small number of piglets, although there was fighting at the teats, it wasn’t aggressive enough to upset the sow and disrupt suckling. Piglets were weaned at 35 days.
We also noticed that the fan seemed to affect the piglets. Since the fan was directed towards the center of the pen, the piglets stayed away from it and instead stayed in the creep space which was not reached by the force of the fan. So the fan seemed also a good way of guiding piglets away from certain areas, reducing the risk of laying over or crushing by the sow.
Note: Although this was Number 3’s third successful litter, we had to clip the piglets’ teeth because she got angry while nursing. We had the same issue with Auntie Brownie who farrowed on July 29, 2018, during a hot and humid season. Humidity is particularly high, which is more difficult for gestating and farrowing sows. There were 13 piglets in this litter, which is one of our highest, and thus a higher incidence of crushing was expected. Our sows seem to want to keep only 8 piglets per litter.
Gestation 115 Days Serviced by Pinky Boar June 30, 2018. Farrowed October 23/24, 2018.
Nest building started at 5:45PM, October 23. Number 3 took some time building her nest, spent a lot of time just standing in the middle of the pen, looking around, assessing the nest and environment. There might’ve been insufficient nesting material. Must take note of the quantity and quality of nesting material next time.
Farrowing, October 23, 2018 at 11:44PM
Farrowing went on until around 3:30AM October 24. At around 4:10AM, Number 3 got up and lay on a piglet for a minute. She must’ve known she was lying on a piglet so she got up, rooted the nesting material and lay down again, letting the piglets nurse. When piglets are unable to squeal when laid on, the mother is often but not always unaware of what has happened.
October 24 – Around 6AM I noticed one dead piglet, a large male, most probably due to crushing. In the night, Number 3 had already crushed 2 piglets including this one. The second piglet was hidden underneath the nest and I discovered it only 3 days later.
In the video above, Number 3 is very tired and overheating. Trevor tries to cool her down with some water. In hot and humid climate, water might increase humidity. We are installing a fan to correct this problem.
In the video above, the piglets are 1 day old. Number 3 lies on the nest, reluctant to nurse. It is in the early morning and she is panting as the heat and humidity builds up. October and November are hot and rainy months.
Fighting amongst piglets during nursing begins by 12:18PM and Number 3 gets upset by this. Although Number 3 does her best to adjust her position whenever there is fighting, as well as getting up immediately when a piglet squeals, the situation worsens as Number 3 gets more exhausted and stressed by the heat and the pain from piglets’ teeth whenever they fight at her teats. By noon-time the following day, we decided we need to cut piglets’ teeth.
October 25 – Teeth clipping done at 3PM. Nursing situation is much better after teeth clipping. During this time, we saw a piglet had an injured front leg but this got better over the next several days. This piglet remained very active and became one of the largest in the litter despite the injury.
In the video above, day old piglets have discovered the piglet escape hatch and explore the ‘Piglets’ Restaurant’ where fresh soil and green forage is provided. The piglets sample the soil right away and this is their source of iron when iron supplements are not available.
October 26 – While rescuing a smaller brown piglet from crushing, I found a dead piglet, one of the larger ones, crushed during fighting perhaps or during heat stress at high noon.
In the video above, piglets are 2 days old. Video was taken at night. Piglets’ teeth have been clipped so the mother no longer gets angry during nursing. However, the mother still feels very exhausted and may be suffering from heat stress. She is lying and adjusts her position, pushing the piglets with her hindquarters. This and numerous movements make it appear as if the mother is careless. She also doesn’t get up immediately when a piglet is overlaid or stepped on. Note the piglet with a limp. This piglet’s foot was probably stepped on by the mother. Piglets recover well from these types of injuries.
October 27 – I found a dead piglet in the nest in an advanced state of decomposition indicating it may have been crushed on the first day or may have been stillborn.
In the above video, piglet are 4 days old and quite active after teeth clipping and no iron supplements. Soil was spread in the creep space and ‘Piglets’ Restaurant’ which the pigs eat since day 1.
November 2 – I found a piglet crushed, a large male piglet, 9 days old. This is very disappointing. Hot and humid, Number 3 is panting heavily, and the crushing might be due to heat stress. We are implementing some changes which we hope will reduce heat stress and the incidence of crushing.
We separated Number 3 from her piglets on November 28. Piglets were 35 days old but already eating solid food. We had no serious scour problems. Piglets were sold 10 days later.
The Problem of Crushing
For 2019, we are implementing changes which we hope will reduce the incidence of piglet mortality due to crushing. See Piglet Crushing Management.
Here are some videos of Number 3’s piglets
In the video below, while her piglets are out in the garden, Number 3 plays in her pen. I get very nervous when such a big pig starts running like this with little piglets around her. So it is good that piglets are able to go out so the mother has the chance to relax.
Note: This is the first time we had to clip piglets’ teeth because Auntie Brownie, now on her third parity, got very angry whenever she nursed her piglets. No teeth cutting was needed on first and second parity. The months June-July were very hot and humid. I think this aggravated the problem of mastitis, making Auntie Brownie very sensitive to piglets’ teeth. This time, we also had a high crushing number of 4 piglets, with 12 live born piglets. 8 were weaned successfully.
Gestation 111 Days Serviced by Pinky Boar on April 9, 2018. Farrowed July 29, 2018.
During gestation, Auntie Brownie made loud grunting noises indicating call for bath. I gave her a few baths during high daytime temperatures. She also created a pit, cooled it with her urine and lay in it. Unfortunately, high humidity and dew point during these months didn’t help. We have changed feeds, employ wet feeding, installed an electric fan for Auntie Brownie’s next farrowing and see if we will get better results.
Nest building started a day before farrowing. I saw Auntie Brownie pawing the ground so I gave her some dry banana leaves. She took it and began nest building, then rested. She kept at this for the whole day, seemingly too lazy to build a satisfactory nest. This must be because of the heat and humidity.
Farrowing, July 29, 2018 at 10AM
The farrowing was without incident, 12 piglets born alive. However, within the first hour of birth, piglets started fighting which upset Auntie Brownie. Although fighting at the teats within a few hours of birth is not unusual, I found it unusual that Auntie Brownie got hurt so easily, and the fighting was frequent. I think that piglet fighting is an indication of poor milk flow. This may confirm the problem of mastitis or agalactia due to heat stress.
In the video above, Auntie Brownie is very tired and obviously having problems nursing her 1-day old piglets. Intervention is needed when this happens.
July 30 – 2 piglets were crushed to death and 1 was injured by overlaying. It seemed that Auntie Brownie was deliberately overlaying her piglets because she was hurt and upset by them fighting at her teats. Brownie’s teats seemed hard when I pressed them in the morning, but by late afternoon, her teats seemed much softer. It is possible that her teats were sensitive because of mastitis. I also wondered if the piglets’ teeth were sharper than the usual we’ve had before. I inspected the teeth of one of the dead piglets and I saw needle teeth that were thin and sharp, instead of the usual triangular shape with the pointed tip. Not all the piglet’s teeth are like that, and I am not sure if such teeth do make a difference.
July 31 – Teeth-clipping went well this morning, there are 9 piglets left. 1 piglet got crushed last night. Brownie drank water but did not eat. White discharge. Piglets went to the mother to suckle and the situation seemed better, although nursing is less frequent (every 1-2 hours); hoping later nursing will be on regular. I hope things progress from now on and that the mother quickly recovers.
August 1 – It is Day 3. Suckling is much more peaceful since teeth clipping. The injured piglet remains feisty and active. Piglets look forward to exploring the Escape Hatch/Restaurant/Garden after nursing, particularly brightens up sluggish piglets. The injured piglet seem to be the first to want to go out. Nursing was hourly and sometimes 15-30 min intervals. Brownie is drinking and eating well. She is getting Amoxicillin antibiotics in her water (for 3 days).
In the video above, piglets are 6 days old and go out into the garden several times each day, particularly after nursing.
August 5 – Piglet got crushed this afternoon. We were unable to revive it. This was a 7-day old piglet, very active and was seen fighting with litter-mates just a few hours ago. I believe this is accidental crushing, which happens when the piglet is unable to squeal so the mother is unaware that a piglet is being laid over. The piglet may have been very tired and was deep asleep.
The ground in front of the trough has become tough and slippery and this area seem to be where crushing fatalities often occur. This area will need to be dug up and wood shavings spread to soften the ground and reduce slipping.
In the video above, piglets are 11 days old. The piglet with the injured leg fights for milk. She is also the first one to go out of the escape hatch to play in the garden.
Video above shows Auntie Brownie interacting with her piglets, very much aware that I am filming her. With 4 or possibly 5 piglets crushed by the mother, the piglets have developed a very cautious relationship with their mother who at the same time is their source of life and nutrition. Through ambivalent socialisation with their mother, the ability of piglets to develop this alertness at the first few hours of birth is crucial to their survival.
Weaning the Piglets
September 3 – Auntie Brownie separated from her piglets, now about 38 days old. However, we put the runt with her, the one that got injured by crushing. We usually sell piglets at 45 to 55 days old, or after all signs of scour, if any, are gone. There was some scouring in this litter starting on day 2-3 after weaning which was treated with Apralyte. Because of early treatment, scours were gone in a few days.
The Problem of Crushing
For 2019, we are implementing changes which we hope will reduce the incidence of piglet mortality due to crushing. See Piglet Crushing Management.
Number 3 was serviced by Pinky Boar on November 13, 2017. Her expected date of farrowing was March 8 (115 days gestation). She farrowed March 9 (116 days). Number 3 has a history of farrowing on time and not earlier. This is her third parity.
First Few Hours – March 9, 2018
Around 1AM, I heard Number 3 making grunting sounds, not desperately asking for nesting material but since she usually does not grunt at this time of the night, I suspected she will be farrowing soon (12-24 hours).
At 6:10AM, our usual feeding time, a small amount of feed was given. I saw that the dry banana leaves we gave her yesterday had been put in one corner of the pen, indicating she was already exhibiting nesting behaviour in the night, thus the grunting sounds several hours ago.
7:00AM, we gave her more dry banana leaves which she collects and starts nest-building, stopping to rest every now and then, until around 10AM.
12:00 noon, I saw a couple of piglets! Farrowing must have started at least 30 minutes earlier. Number 3 farrowed along the lower right corner of the pen near the wall, her head towards us and her back along the wall, so we couldn’t see the piglets as they come out. The piglets are only partly visible through the gaps along the pigpen wall.
12:36PM, there appears to be 2 black and white piglets and 1 brown piglet, all suckling already.
1:41PM, two hours old, first sign of piglets fighting at the teats, so Number 3 starts grunting which helps stop the piglets fighting. While grunting indicates milk flow, I think it also creates strong vibrations across the teats which calms down piglet fights.
2:05PM, a rather lively piglet has started exploring the pen, then quickly returns to the mother.
2:30PM, a piglet travels even further towards the opposite side of the pen and stays there for a while, probably to urinate or defecate.
3:30PM, about 4 hours from the onset of farrowing, Number 3 gets up to eat the afterbirth, drinks water and eats about 400 grams of feeds. We counted 9 piglets born alive.
4:00PM, Number 3 lies on her right side, instead of her left side (her farrowing side) and this resulted in a lot of piglet fighting. The fighting subsides after a while. I think because Number 3 changed her first nursing position, the piglets need time to find their teats which can result in competition for teats.
Nursing takes place every hour, and Number 3 maintained this regimen for the rest of the nursing period.
Above Video: The light brown piglet climbing over the others is Humphrey. His teat is established at the first row upper left side of the mother, parallel to Panda, but he has trouble finding and attaching to it. He remains a very active piglet, but later he was the last to outgrow his scour. The black and white piglet that is unable to attach to a teat is Blackie. She gives up easily when she is unable to find her teat. She is the weakest in the litter and died due to accidental crushing. Panda is the rightmost piglet suckling. He had developmental problems but he attaches very well to his teat and grew to become one of the biggest piglets. The light brown piglet going to the mother’s head with Humphrey is Ihid and is considered the runt in the litter. He is growing fine.
Above Video: The weakest piglet, Blackie, is the focus in this video. I notice that the weakest piglets don’t engage in play and don’t actively explore the environment. Instead, they dig their snouts into the ground persistently. This is obvious even at only 2 days of age. In my experience with pigs of various ages, this persistent behaviour almost always indicated illness.
Some Observations on Farrowing
I was worried that Number 3 would have difficulty farrowing because she has a small vulva and thus possibly, a small cervix and birth canal. Interval between piglets in previous farrowing were 30-45 minutes. However, this time, farrowing was much easier and shorter intervals (5-10 minutes) between piglets. I think it might be due to the fact that this is Number 3’s third parity and because of the addition of calcium in her diet. Calcium metabolism is also fairly good since Number 3 gets plenty of sunlight and exercise.
Above Video: Piglets at 5 weeks of age. Number 3 enjoys having her piglets and at the same time knows how to discipline them when they are fighting.
Above Video: Here, Number 3 is squeezing her way into the piglet creep space so she could eat their food. Because of this situation, we have decided to build a fenced area just outside the Piglet Escape Hatch. We call it the Piglet Restaurant where piglets can eat and drink safely, away from their mother. It is fenced to prevent ducks and chickens from eating the piglet’s food.
Some Observations on Lactation, Nursing and Sow-Piglet Interaction
Above Video: At 2-3 days of age, the piglets have discovered the Escape Hatch. They begin by exploring the soil outside. Later, they go further and eat soil and vegetation. It becomes their routine to go out and play after nursing. This gives the mother the chance to rest and relax inside the pen. Later, we built a fence around this area where the piglets can escape and eat, away from the mother.
Number 3 produced a lot of milk at farrowing. By 7 days of age, milk production became insufficient because I continued giving her only gestation feeds and the lactation feeds have not arrived. When piglets fight and ask the mother for more milk that is a sign there isn’t enough milk production. I tried to rectify the problem by giving Number 3 some papaya fruits and leaves, and by giving her lactating feeds once it became available. This solved the problem in 2-3 days.
However, because of the early scarcity in milk production, fighting among litter-mates became somewhat established and piglets also developed the habit of drinking water from the mother’s trough. Piglet behaviour is developed early on and can be difficult to change. So it is important to start with good conditions.
Number 3 tries to adjust her position during nursing so all piglets have access, except when she is too tired or too relaxed to notice there is trouble amongst piglets. Number 3 also gives special attention to weaker piglets, allowing them to access her teats or continue suckling while the others are asleep.
Above Video: 3-day old piglets fighting. This is Puzzles (black and white spots) and Brownie. These piglets are next to each other at the teats and will continue to fight at the teats until weaning. The mother disciplines pigs that fight.
Number 3 disciplines naughty piglets. When there is fighting at the teats and Number 3 gets hurt, she growls, gets up and nips the piglet that is causing trouble. She actually knows who is being naughty.
Video Above: On piglet discipline, relevant behaviour is in the first 15 seconds of this video. Piglets are 17-days old in this video. In the past several days there has been much fighting at the teats because of one or two very aggressive piglets. Notice the third piglet from the left fighting with the second piglet. Number 3 gets hurt, growls and gets up, then looks for the naughty piglet and nips her. This is how Number 3 disciplines her piglets – she actually knows who is at which teat and who is being naughty. Despite much fighting such as this, Number 3 never savaged any piglets and continued to nurse them. We don’t cut any piglets teeth.
On Crushing/Laying Over
One piglet was crushed accidentally on Day 3. This was a weak piglet, perhaps unable to nurse well on the first hour of birth. The accident was partly my fault. I gave Number 3 a small bath near the trough which motivated her to lie near the trough and nurse her piglets there. That area is a dangerous place for piglets, particularly when the mother gets up for feeding time. This was the same area where the weak piglet was crushed.
Above Video: Number 3 lies in the distance, then calls her piglets to suckle. This is a great technique, reducing risk of crushing or laying over. Piglets are 9 days old here and although Humphrey has already established attachment to his teat, he still likes humping over everybody!
Since a piglet was crushed, the rest of the litter have become more wary of the mother and they try to be more careful and alert. They actually try to avoid sleeping near the trough. The mother also discipline her piglets to keep them from going between her legs or under her teats while she is about to lie down. It is obvious that the mother is aware of the dangers of crushing/laying over. Interaction between sow and piglets is crucial for them to establish communication.
Caring for a Slow, Under-Developed Piglet
One piglet we call Panda is different from the others. He is of normal size but has a somewhat bulbous head, arched back and very slow in response and perception. Initially, he had a weak suckling reflex although he does attach tenaciously to his teat. He doesn’t have the same gait as his siblings and has difficulty getting up.
Above Video: Here is Panda at 10 days of age. He has a somewhat bulbous head, a rigid gait, an arched back, and he doesn’t run around as actively as the others.
Above Video: Here, Panda has difficulty getting up while everyone else is already drinking milk!
Above Video: While piglets actively explore the garden, Panda seems to have difficulty. However, the excitement of the outdoors kept his spirits high and was daily motivated to get better. In the next couple of days, Panda progressively became better, catching up fast on his litter-mates.
Panda received Iron Drops like all his litter-mates. We don’t intervene during nursing and leave him to find his teat and develop good suckling reflex. Drinking water is provided for all piglets in an outside creep-space we call the “Piglet Restaurant.” All piglets are allowed to go out into the garden and eat soil, vegetation. Panda was the weakest but he always looked forward to going out into the garden. The outdoor exercise and abundance of soil and vegetation had a strong positive psychological influence on Panda. In fact, despite his ‘disability’, Panda was quite fierce in defending his teat from the other piglets. In 2-3 weeks, Panda is nearly as active as his litter-mates.
Above Video: 20 days old. Humphrey is a very playful piglet since the beginning. He is parallel to Panda at the teats. Early on, he developed the habit of humping Panda (and other litter-mates), thus his name. In this video, he harasses Panda and Panda squeals. The mother hears this and calls. Humphrey hears the mother and stops, to Panda’s relief, and pretends to have not done nothing wrong by rooting the ground.
Above Video: Here, the piglets are 16 days old, enjoying the garden. Panda is doing much better here and being able to go out into the garden and play has given him great psychological motivation to get better.
Some Observations on Post-Weaning
We separated Number 3 from her litter when the piglets were 45 days of age. All the piglets remained active and playful and eat well. Scour began to set in at Day 2-3 of weaning and remained up to 6 days so I decided to intervene with probiotics. The scour is grey, watery, projectile of various degrees. All piglets remain active and eat well. Piglets were also given green banana leaves. There was some improvement but scour remained. So by Day 10 I decided to give Apralyte treatment, an anti-scour formula, for 5 days.
Day 2 of anti-scour treatment, piglet scours are thicker and not as watery as before and the appetite of the piglets increased immediately. Day 3 of anti-scour treatment, the piglets began to get bigger as well. By Day 4-5, piglets are all back to normal, except for Humphrey who was the last to get rid of his scour completely.
Next time, I must include probiotics in sow/piglet water at least a week before weaning. Although the pigpen has been sprayed with Lactic Acid Bacteria solution, that didn’t seem sufficient. This batch of piglets also had less green forage because of the early provision of piglet crumble feed. We have had better cases in the past wherein piglets did not develop scouring as bad as this and they did not receive any piglet booster or crumble feed. I think next time I should implement early addition of probiotics in piglet diet before, the abundance of green forage and the late addition of any protein-rich feed (piglet booster, crumble, etc) in their diet.
Although we can look after piglets after they are born, I am getting more interested in how to make the piglets healthier while still inside the mother’s womb. Iron deficiency is one of the biggest hurdles. While I am still studying how adjustments to the mother’s diet may help, it is also possible to provide Iron rich forage and soil that piglets can nibble on as early as the first 3 days of life. The pigpen floor has more sawdust than soil, so while the Piglet Escape Hatch into the garden is crucial, I will need to put some clean soil into the pen for the piglets.
Some Observations on Extended Lactation/Nursing (up to 3 months)
Above Video: This is perhaps somewhat embarrassing but Ihid does not care! Here he is still suckling at nearly 9 weeks of age!
We allowed the runt Ihid to stay with Number 3 until he was 90 days of age. Ihid continued to suckle and the mother allowed him to do so but less frequently. Because Ihid was unable to eat well in competition with his mother he has not put on as much weight as his siblings. He developed no scouring.
However, after weaning, Ihid developed scouring after 3 days, so Apralyte treatment was given by day 5, for 3 days. Improvement is observed quickly. An acidifier, citric acid, is also added to Ihid’s water. This is now also given regularly to the adult pigs, ducks and chickens, to lower their gut ph, improve digestion, and reduce effluent. Less messy effluent also means minimized odor and easier management.
Above Video: Ihid the Runt finally weaned at nearly 3 months of age. He misses his mom. We are deciding to keep 2 piglets next time so the pigs don’t become too lonely.
Piglet Weights at Post-Weaning (55 days): 25-16 kilos. The females weigh less than the males. Panda weighed 22 kilos.
Four piglets were sold to two neighbours and three piglets were sold to an orphanage in Dauis. We keep Ihid the Runt. Although we have done this many times before, I still miss the piglets every time! I love each and every single one of them! 🙂