Bertha Brings Shame To The Family Name…

The same night I went to check on Ziggy, Bertha had her babies. I went out at 8, and she’d had 4. The creep was set up, but the light wasn’t on. The 4 babies were scattered around the shed and freezing. I got the lamp on and gathered the babies up, but one was knackered. We got some milk into him and warmed him up, but he was dead the next day.

The first 7 we saw, 5, 6, and 7 of which we watched born.  Number 8 came after this photo. The second-from-the-left was the sickly one that didn't make it. You can tell even here that he wasn't real well.

The first 7 we saw, 5, 6, and 7 of which we watched born. Number 8 came after this photo. The second-from-the-left was the sickly one that didn’t make it. You can tell even here that he wasn’t real well.

We’d picked her as being a week, or maybe 2, from dropping. We had the creep set up just-in-case, but the way her teats were developed made it look like there was time. We’re getting better at picking the litter times, and can obviously predict it accurately when we see the pigs mate. We just got it wrong this time. 😦

We saw her give birth to the last 4, making a total of 8. However, we found a dead one under her the next day. It looks like she’d been laying on him the entire time. That’s 9 born, at least 8 born alive, and 7 survivors. For a young gilt and an accidental pregnancy, I’m going to call that a win.

The babies are tiny, because she’s quite small to be giving birth. She seems to be doing a great job though, and has recovered quickly. I’m worried that she won’t have enough milk, but we’ll have to see. Seriously, the babies are super-tiny.

The creep, for the first time, is working perfectly, and I think it’s the heat lamp positioning. We put it down low in the middle of the creep. The babies are under it and Bertha is laying on the other side with her teats towards them. It’s working perfectly.

They instinctively good mums.

They are instinctively good mums.

Active piglets! They're all of a couple of hours old.

Active piglets! They’re all of a couple of hours old.

Hungry piglets are hungry.

Hungry piglets are hungry.

This shows the creep barrier working perfectly. Warm piglets on one side, giant mum on the other.

This shows the creep barrier working perfectly. Warm piglets on one side, giant mum on the other.

Counting back, this means she was pregnant in mid-February, which means she was 4 or 5 weeks pregnant when her brothers and sisters went to The Other Farm. This also means that some of her sisters were probably pregnant. There’s a big lesson in this…

Pig husbandry is the fun part of all of this, but it’s really the hard part. At times it seems more art than science, and much of it are things you need to learn the hard way. Still, if learning the hard way is having a littler of cute piglets to play with, then I can’t really complain. 🙂

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