Piglets In Winter: Mulefoot Sow Delivers On Pasture

| 1/14/2011 9:52:00 AM

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Domestic animals never cease to amaze me, but I've not been so amazed in a long time as I was last weekend when one of our Mulefoot sows decided to deliver a fine batch of winter piglets out in her wooded pasture. She looked like she was a few days off so we chose not to move her to an outdoor farrowing pen that morning -- had we watched that Mulefoot sow more carefully, we would have known she was planning for piglets on the winter pasture. I'm glad we weren't on top of her because I would have missed an amazing lesson. This particular pig chose to build her nest in a private A-frame hut that's well away from the yard where the rest of the pigs spend most of their winter days half buried in hay they pull from big round bales.

The day was cold ... high of about 25 and there was nothing but dirt on the floor of the A-frame hut at 9 AM.

The sow in question was lounging with the group and hogged her share of feed at about 6 PM.

The sow in question was missing the following morning -- temperatures had dipped to nearly zero degrees.

Mulefoot pig A-frame hut in winter. 

I wasn't particularly concerned that she wasn't with the pig herd in the morning, but I was quite amazed when I saw that the door to the A-frame was stuffed tight with hay. Huh? So I hiked out to the hut and pulled back the hay to see a momma pig with at least 5 baby pigs all enclosed in the most magnificent hay nest I have ever seen (it's hard to count black piglets in the dark). And she would have had to haul that hay -- about 200 pounds of it -- from the pig yard. Yes, she selected mouthful after mouthful of hay from the big round bale, carried it off to her pasture hut and arranged it just so, obviously knowing that she and her babies would need substantial protection from the ensuing cold

Nebraska Dave
1/14/2011 11:08:43 PM

Some where back in time they did do this without our help. It still is amazing that animals know just what to do and never one of them had a Lamaze class and I seriously doubt that Mom had a talk to tell them what was about to happen. I do believe there is wisdom in not trying to make things better with intervention. The only thing I found with hogs is they are quick to cull out the runts and let them die. It's definitely survival of the fittest in the animal kingdom. Have a great cold piglet day.

Robyn Dolan
1/14/2011 6:37:07 PM

So cool! Encouraging post;)

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