The past weekend has been a major entry on my calendar for some time because a number of fairly big events were scheduled.
However looking back on it all now, I realise I hadn’t fully appreciated that nearly all stages of pig breeding were involved – artificial insemination on Sissy plus a new litter for Fifi and also 3 meat pigs heading off to the butchers.
Fifi farrows for the first time
Fifi had all week to settle down in the farrowing shed and was getting closer to farrowing so we started final preparations on Sunday morning. This just means gathering the various things we might need at short notice once it all starts. If there are problems then we don’t want to waste time hunting for something crucial that might save a life.
By lunchtime things were clearly moving fast and over the course of the next 2 hours she rapidly farrowed 9 piglets with remarkably little trouble given this was her first litter.
They’re now almost 2 days old and all are still doing well. Almost up to the psychological (and non-scientific) 3 day point when I can start to believe they’ll all survive.
The most important first hurdles have been passed though – getting milk from their mother, finding the heat lamp and getting plenty of sleep!
After the rather worrying time during the last farrowing for Sissy we’ve decided to try getting her back in-pig as soon as possible.
Once separated from a litter at weaning, a sow will come into season again within a week.
As usual, this meant careful planning to make sure I could be around to do this, ideally at a weekend. Also it meant timing the order for supplies so they arrive at the right point – it only lasts for about 5 days
In the end it all seemed to go well with the 3 AI attempts spread out over Friday and Saturday. As often happens, at least one attempt was a bit of a disaster but the other 2 appeared to be fine.
We’ll know for certain in about 3 weeks if we don’t see Sissy coming back into season – another future entry in my calendar!
Meat pigs to the butchers
To round off the weekend, there was a trip to the abattoir on Monday to take the first 3 meat pigs. This is never a great day but we always keep things as calm as possible for the pigs.
Having been born and raised here on our smallholding, they travel less than 30 miles in the trailer which all helps.
Considering the nationwide problems with smaller abattoirs closing due to the costs of regulations these days, we’re quite lucky to have something within a decent distance.
The pork from this batch has already been sold out in advance via social to a combination of our loyal regular customers and a few new ones as well.
Once we get the meat back next weekend, we’ll know for certain whether there is any left available or, in the worst case, if we’ve over sold it ahead of time.
There will be another batch of 3 meat pigs heading off in about 6-8 weeks time so anyone who missed out this time won’t have long to wait. We’re also hoping to get a little more bacon from the next batch – we don’t often have bacon made because the pigs needs to be kept quite a bit longer but it’s nice to have it every once in a while.
As well as being some of the finest pork available (according to me at least!), the pork sales help cover the costs of keeping all the pigs on our holding so we’re always very grateful for that.