We moved five 250-pound very pregnant American Guinea Hogs today. In case you ever find yourselves in such a situation, there is really not much you can do other than herd them in the right direction and hope for the best. John lassoed them, which was quite humorous to watch as they “walked” him like big dogs would walk their owners. It took both of us about an hour to get them to cooperate. By the sounds they were making, one would have thought we were trying to hurt them. All of our hogs were all in the same paddock over the winter months. We weren’t quite sure which ones were pregnant until today. Their bellies are practically dragging on the ground, and their clitoral hoods are sticking out, kind of drooping. 48 hours before they are ready to give birth, there will be a milky “line” that forms underneath their tail.
We felt it best to separate them from the Berkshires and other Hogs to give them more room. If there is not enough space for the babies and the mommies (they need separate areas), they tend to sit on the piglets — squishing them to death. I did not want that to happen. Plus, I am not sure how the Berkshires will be as they are not as docile as the American Guinea Hogs. We now have classified our hogs into two groups — the teenagers and adults. The Berkshires are our juvenile “delinquents” (sometimes they like to find trouble). They chase each other and the chickens around all day. They are very active! They never hurt one another (or the chickens for that matter); I just didn’t know how all that activity would be for momma and the babies — better to be safe. Too many other things could go wrong with farrowing and the piglets, I don’t want to add any more possibilities into the equation. The AGHs are about 18 months old now, so they aren’t as adventurous. They will come out and follow the tractor around for food, but they don’t run around as much as they used to.
This will be the girls’ first litters, and ours as well as we purchased the gilts from a small farm at four months of age. I really don’t know what to expect. From what I’ve learned, they are great mothers, very attentive and caring, and our roles should be more of an emergency response only versus doing a lot of unneeded work and “meddling”. As long as we provide them with what they need to be comfortable, it should go smoothly.
They now have plenty of pasture, and hay (they are making nests) and they have occupied a few chicken tractors for shelter, which they stayed in all winter and they worked out great! It was fun today; once we got them moved to the new 2-acre paddock, all they did was find a little bit of space to fall asleep in. I will write more about the birthing experience! I am excited as to what we will learn.
Photo by Fotolia/shishiga