On June 9th we were lucky enough to score a half-tonne of seconds apples from The Apple Man (not his real name) in Gawler. The pigs get mostly grain, but we like to mix it up as much as we can, as well as their free-range forage of course. We’ve started to score some waste baked goods, and have asked around at the local fruit-and-veg stores. The only one we’ve been able to get anything meaningful from so far is The Apple Man. That half-tonne cost us $50, which makes it almost half the price of the bulk barley we currently have. Score!
Anyway, we got the apples and started feeding them out to the pigs. Their morning feed was grain, and most of the evening feed was apples.
On June 10th it looked like Ziggy was coming down ill. She was lethargic and off her food. She’s not the most active girl, coming from an intensively bred farm, but she was even more droopy than normal.
On the 11th I was sure she was sick. She was laying down along the fence between the runs and clearly didn’t want to get up. I couldn’t even get her to lay down in her new house out of the weather, I think because she liked laying there where the next-door pigs could chat to her. She wasn’t eating or drinking, and it was getting quite cold.
I was super-worried about her laying in the cold. I ended up getting a heap of straw, layering that over her, and then covering that with a couple of old quilts. No matter what dad will tell you, I definitely didn’t lay down next to her. I just knelt down and gave her some loves. Really, that’s all.
On the 12th she was even worse, so I called the vet. We had another pig get similarly ill about a year earlier. The vet came out and it turned out that she only had a cold. He gave her some antibiotics, but she would’ve gotten better on her own. I was hoping Ziggy would work out that way, but after a full day of no food or water, I wasn’t going to just wait and see. In addition to that, Stumpy, her sister, was starting to get lethargic.
We use the Production Vet from Roseworthy College, which is literally less than 10 minutes away. Dr. Mandi came out with two final-year students. They were awesome. Dr. Mandi thought it was the apples, and that the new girls, being intensively-bred, don’t have the stomach for them. The theory was that they had a huge belly ache. The problem is if they don’t eat every 24 hours, they start to develop gastric ulcers.
Ziggy’s temperature was 41.5, which is also bad. The vet gave her a big dose of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory, both via injection. We gave Stumpy the same, just to head it off.
That was at around 11 am. I took Ziggy’s temp during the day, and it only started to drop around 4. It dropped to around 40.5 by 5, but by 8 was 38.3
I had managed to get a little food into her on the Wednesday afternoon – some green weeds and a few handfuls of barley. The following day she was still laying down, but I was able to get her up. She ate and drank (she was super thirsty), and made a full recovery. Stumpy was also fine.
I don’t think it was a stomach ache, as they never scoured. I think they had a cold/infection, and the drugs helped. Either way, the vet visit was well worth it, and literally cost us less than $200. I can’t remember the last time I took a dog to the vet for less than that, and this was a vet coming to us and dosing two pigs with drugs.
The truly valuable thing about the visit was we got to speak about the partnering/management relationships they offer. For about $100 a month we can get a quarterly visit where they help with the herd and breeding management. They also have a world-renowned pig expert, who actually as a PhD in pig breeding. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
We want to look at ramping up to a commercial venture. This vet deal will mean we can build a real relationship with our vet, and they will know all the ins-and-outs of us and our herd. Even if we don’t end up making this a commercial venture, I’ll probably do it just for our little breeding herd here.