Saturday, September 24, 2011

Farrowing Pasture

Here's Charlotte, our first "Mama pig" on farm, in her 3/4 acre farrowing pasture. The space is chock full of lush growth, is peppered with oaks, and is adjacent to, but separate from, her sisters' spread. It is fenced with a single live aluminum wire (about eight inches off of the ground).
shelter and pasture
Providing a separate paddock for the soon-to-be-Mama and co. did two things.  First, being fresh and as yet un-grazed, it ensured that our soon-to-be “Mama pig” would have access to all the supplemental nutrition in the lush forage that she would need, and sure enough, as soon as we let her in, she tucked her head right down and started grazing--that sight never gets old!
Secondly, having the separate paddock minimized the risk of other hogs unknowingly squishing piglets in the shelter (even at 1.5 years old, our gilts still love to snuggle, its quite charming, but in this scenario it could pose some negative side effects).  While this is often a major cause of piglet mortality, we are comforted by the fact that our hogs are rather strong animals, what with their romping around pasture all day, and are thus much less likely to collapse into a sedentary position in the way that an over-fed, under-exercised hog would...another plus to the pasture method!  So we have minimized the risk of a roll-over by keeping the other two gilts out of the paddock altogether (they have their own sweet paddock to graze in), and aren’t too worried by the remaining risk of the Mama rolling over, as she is more capable than most of controlling her weight.  With these precautions and a sound shelter, we’re overjoyed to say that we have a 100% piglet survival rate!