Wilhelmina (we call her “Mina”) is one of our best Tamworth sows. Her mother is Hermione, one of the two sows we got from Kingbird Farm three years ago. Her father is Harry, a boar from East Hill Farm, where we took two sows to be bred the first year we kept pigs. The father of the babies is Albus, of course, our boar who we got from Hogwash Farm.
She’s a very reliable sow, often having two litters a year. She’s a great mother, too. Her litter size isn’t huge, usually between 6 and 9, but that’s okay, because she doesn’t squish piglets and is quite attentive. She doesn’t even fuss much at us when we need to notch ears after they are born.
She prefers to pick her own nesting spot, and we usually let her, but right now, with this relentless weather we are having, there really isn’t a good spot out there for her to choose. Everything is covered in snow or is deep mud, and we are expecting yet another damn storm and 12+ inches of new snow tomorrow. Grr. I am so done with winter!
Anyway … we parked the livestock trailer out in the pig paddock. We tried to lure her in there, but she wanted nothing to do with that. It’s really hard to convince a 500 pound pregnant sow to go someplace she doesn’t want to go. Even really good food didn’t do the trick.
But we left it out there and I was pretty sure she’d go in on her own, and she did. We check last evening, and she was in there with two other big pigs, so we just closed the door and then I convinced the other two to exit, which really wasn’t too hard.
So now she’s got the entire trailer to herself and her future babies. She’s got lots of straw for bedding, and we can feed her separately from the rest of the herd, which is good because she’s not very aggressive at the feed trough, believe it or not, and I worry she wasn’t getting enough. She lets herself be bullied a bit too much for my taste. She’s got growing babies in there and needs lots of calcium and calories.
This trailer is way bigger than a traditional farrowing crate — it’s at least three times her size, so she can move around quite a bit. I’m not going to let her out until she farrows and the piglets are a decent size, though. I’m thinking of it sort of like a stall in a barn. (If only we had a barn …. )
So now the big question is when will she farrow and how many will she have? She looks awfully close, doesn’t she?
Guess correctly and win a pint of maple syrup and a pint of lard!