While we’ve never really had a problem when moving pigs around our holding, with a 300kg sow there is always the possibility that she will choose to go in a different direction. Once she makes that sort of decision, there’s not a lot the hapless pig keeper can do about it other than to try bribing her with food which is not always successful.
When you also have to factor in 6 feisty piglets who are barely 2 weeks old, there is a serious potential for unpredictability which I could do without. The only way that I’ve found to tackle this is through careful preparation.
Last weekend it was time to move Esther and her latest litter from the farrowing shed out to their new pen in the woods. Before opening up the shed, the route was carefully planned with any other doors/gates firmly closed and barricades in place to prevent any potential deviations.
Their time in the shed went very well and, as expected, by 2 weeks old the piglets were starting to explore the whole shed as well as the outside space whenever the door was left open.
A recent collection of spare apples was a particular highlight for them before they left the shed but it’s fair to say they are only curious about them at this stage. Only the smallest of the fruit would be big enough for their little mouths and they’re not quite old enough to properly start with hard feed.
Within a week though, they should be showing an interest in some special pig feed (as well as the apples) but they’ll still be on mothers milk as well for another 5 weeks or so.
In the end the move all went off without incident so I like to think that my prior planning made all the difference. On the other hand, I got the impression that (despite the wet weather) Esther was very happy to be headed back outdoors again and she probably remembers this route fairly well by now.
The happy family are now settled in a new pen which was reseeded over the summer so they have some lovely fresh grass growth. It didn’t take long before the piglets started to get their noses dirty in the mud and run around chasing each other.
Is there a better way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon than watching that sort of goings on?