A little rundown of how we care for our baby pigs! We got our first load of pigs in the week before Memorial Day and so care for them at this age is pretty labor intense. Here is a little glimpse into the care we give at this stage of the game.
Baby pigs arrive in our barns from a nursery in Indiana that is a couple hours away from us. They are around 12-15lbs when they arrive. Right away, we load them off the semi trailer, into the barn and we sort them into pens. Each pen is disenfected and clean, allready for these new baby bigs. You can see in this post where I talk a little bit about prepping the barns for baby pigs.
Once the baby pigs are settled into their pens and have had a chance to drink water and rest some from their travel, we count and sort. Just like people, each pig is different. Some are bigger, some are smaller, and you can sometimes get a feel for their temperament. When we sort pens, we grab all the smalls and any pig that may seem more timid then the others. We have 2 pens on each side of our barn (so 4 total) that we reserve for smaller or more timid seeming pigs. These pigs can grow with each other and have an easier time growing because they are with other pigs more their size. We “gruel” these smaller pigs as well.
Gruel is a feed that is supplied from our grower, Indiana Packers Corp. It is basically a nutrient dense kick starter for the pigs that are smaller on average than the rest of the pigs in the barn. So those 4 small pens, get grueled with this special feed, twice a day. I always feel like I should be yelling sloooppp or sueeeyyy like you see in the old movies when I mix this for them. It is like candy to them, they love it!
Once all the pigs are settled into their pens, twice a day we walk the barns, monitor growth, behavior patterns, water intake, feed intake, and temperature of the barns, etc, etc. Assessing the pigs as you are walking the barn takes a trained eye. My farmer is really good at spotting any pigs that may need extra attention and getting them that care when they need. I feel like he has taught me well too. As a nurse, I am very careful when assessing the pigs, we want each pig that is in our care to be healthy and happy. We take it very serious that each pig is cared for properly.
The picture below gives you a little view of the pen itself. There is plenty more space behind the metal feeders you see and plenty of space behind where I am taking this picture. Much needed and well used room to grow for these pigs!
When we walk the barn, the pigs scatter and run from us. Which probably seems strange but really this is what we want. Part of the reason that we make sure to walk each pen thoroughly is beacuse we want all the pigs to get up, and make sure they are drinking and eating. Just like their momma pig would if they were with her. This is a chore that I can directly give our 2 year old, he does a great job of getting the pigs up and to the feeders and waterers.
You can see in this picture below how the baby pigs like to lay. Literally in a big pig pile.They would sleep like this all day if we let them! That is why Will goes around and gets them stirred up to get to their feeders and waterers.
But of course, being a 2 year old, occasionally I can find him straying from his one job in the barns. Usually he is in the feeders. But hey, when the only farm help you can afford is 2, you take what you can get!
We also check that all the brooder lamps are lit and putting off heat for the baby pigs. The brooder lamps hang over mats, which the pigs also love to pile up on, especially in the evenings if the temperature is cooled down. If a brooder lamp has blown out, we just relight it and we also put a little feed on the mats. This helps remind the pigs, hey don’t poop on your mats, these are for sleeping and lounging only! And it works too, they keep the mats free from waste if we keep a little feed on them!
Sometimes, you do get a sick pig. It happens, just like children, you try and try to keep the germs away but you can’t always. We have veterinarians on call at all times and work directly with leaders at IPC. The moment we notice a pig or two that may be under the weather, we notify them and action is taken. This could be in the form of an antibiotic that is run through the water or an intramuscular injection into the ailing pig itself, both are administered by us as directed by a veterinarian. The sick pig or pigs are taken to the designated sick pen where they can be closely monitored until they are feeling better, at which time they can be put back with their original pen mates.
Our kids love choring the barns and we always take a little time at the end to just spend time with our pigs.
Whether that be just allowing them to chew on your boots for awhile
allowing the littlest farmers on our farm, to play with the littlest animals on the farm.
Everyday I thank God for this job, of caring for his animals and also that I get to raise my family on this farm.
Questions? Just let me know!