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Pigs Farrowing Outdoors

 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Our sow is due to farrow around 10th Jan - not a planned pregnancy, a wild boar 'made friends' with her. It wouldn't have been the plan to have piglets so early in the year. Anyway, we've got what we've got so now we have to work with it. The question then is.. will she be OK to farrow in her outdoor pig house if it's well bedded with straw? The weather could be mild or cold, it's difficult to say.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Alison, what are your alternatives?
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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My daddy kept hogs for the entirety of my childhood in a ten acre pasture that was about half wooded. He never did a thing to protect his sow(s) that slung their litters in the winter and I don't remember him ever loosing a pig to the weather. But then we live in south Mississippi so the weather conditions here might be as harsh as what you have where you live. The ol' sows would always root out a bed up in amongst a naturally occurring debris hut and mom and babies always seemed to do fine.

If you ive in a more extreme environment, on thing you might could do if you don't have wooded acreage is to build a sow-sized straw bale house. As long as she can keep her litter dry, everything should be ok.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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We farm in the mountains of northern Vermont and farrow hundreds of pigs outdoors year round. We don't have barns. We do make wind blocks, one walled, two walled and such sheds. Greenhouses are great. Most of all they need protection from the wind. Even a few large hay bales do the trick. Next they need dry bedding. Wetness sucks the heat away. January is actually better in this way than November. Their mother is 103°F - she's a heating pad. A good, experienced sow farrows fine in the cold weather. She does need privacy so that other pigs don't snuggle up to her. Naturally they go off in the brush to seek privacy but this is harder to do in the winter.

Good luck with your unplanned pregnancy.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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ivan, the alternatives are currently none so we'd have had to have thought of one if it had been deemed necessary (like converting our little tractor barn). But thanks to George and Walter, we'll just let Miss Maybelline get on with her own thing. She'll have her own paddock and her own house that we'll extra-insulate with more straw. Thanks, one more weight of my mind
 
Gord Welch
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
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I let my sows "run wild" with their boar, they all farrow outside and all have healthy, strong litters. In the end, it produces a much healthier pig. The catch is, though that the nutrition must be very good. There must be sufficient wild area for medicine and they must not be hungry at all. If the nutrition is perfect, no iron shots or otherwise is needed. I do feed a bit of molasses around birthing time. Any herbs which are good for a human mother will be good for the sow. I think the most important thing is that sow be allowed to choose her farrowing area - and it needs to be dry and safe. Please let us know how it turns out.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Sounds like you have it covered, Alison. Please send us an update when you have time, haha. Good luck.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Well, yesterday within 1.5 hrs midafternoon she delivered 10 lively little piglets. 2 dark stripey ones, 4 ginger stripey ones and 4 pinky/white ones. They're out and exploring already! I've put up ads 'free to a good home at 10 weeks' as that's us more than doubling our pig-count in one afternoon (I'd read that wild boars normally have 4 - 6 offspring so I was hoping for a smaller number - sigh). Mild and sunny here though it's to go a bit chilly for a couple of days at the weekend (-2C / 28F).
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Free to good home? I would suggest selling them. Also realize that once it is out of your hands the "good home" is probably about six months to the dinner plate. You don't have that control.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Yes I'm aware that that may well be their fate - in fact WILL be the fate of all of them as it's not allowed here to cross a wild pig with a domesticated one - as if we did it on purpose!!! That's also why they have to go free as an abbatoir won't take them so someone has to know someone who will do the deed, like we do. Plus right just now it seems to be really difficult to sell piglets (not that we're breeders, just raising our own meat once every 3 years). I've seen breeders write in response to ads that they can't even cover the cost of castrating the males (I say, well don't do it then!! We haven't and won't).
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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Congrats on the new additions. It seems that they are doing just fine. I would not worry about the cold. The wild pigs raise their young outside in the same cold. Turns out pigs are hardy. Nature wins again.
 
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