Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Wean Piglets on Pasture

Weaning piglets is no small task, especially when you have them in field and forest the way we do! It's definitely a  two person job when you are in the field with no barn in sight. We wean our piglets at 8 weeks of age...they get the benefit of lots of mother's milk and their condition and size at 8 weeks really shows.

  1. First, you want 'em nice and hungry, so manage the feed so that they will be hungry at move time and follow you anywhere you go!
  2. Pick a location to move your sows to, about 300 feet from where your piglets will be and lay in your paddock.
  3. Corral them all into a smaller area behind some hog panels.
  4. Peel out the mama's using a small, walking cage with all sides covered except for the front.
  5. Put some food down for the piglets to distract them... they will already be crying to go with their mamas.
  6. Walk those sows as fast as you can to their new spot and feed them right quick.
  7. Keep the piglets in their familiar spot where they can still have the scent of mama and the comfort of bedding they know.
  8. String the electric fence on the inside of the hog paneled corral so they don't forget about getting zapped and will still respect the fence.
  9. They'll need to be here about a week.

After about a week, you should be able to move them back into a large paddock, still keeping some distance between them and the mamas. You will notice that the little critters will become suddenly even more ravenous as they are withdrawing from mother's milk. They may whine a bit; our Tamworth pigs are known to be rowdier and more talkative than some pigs! But they'll have each other and you'll see them happily pig piling and rooting around in no time.

Hungry Piglets

Note hog panels, electric fence and visual barrier
Moving cage

This is what our moving cage looks like, only here it doesn't have the visual barrier. It's fashioned in a horse-shoe shape with a straight sided opening. This can easily be placed down over the pigs. If there is separating of pigs required, we first corral them into a smaller paddock, then using a piece of ply wood, we push and direct the hogs we want to move into the cage. Two people can just lift it slightly and walk along to move the pigs...

If you follow these steps, you can successfully keep all the participants happy with out pigs escaping and running wild! The key is to have them out of sight, sound and smell. Remember, in farming there is no timeline...just one step after the other, and lots of patience.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tamworth Feeder Pigs Off to New Home at Intervale

These two vigorous piglets are heading off to a farm at Burlington's Intervale to be raised by a young farmer. We named this year's pigs after the characters from The Matrix. These two critters are Maggie & Morpheus!

The Tamworth pig is particularly well suited for Vermont as they are hardy and adaptable. They are one of the oldest breeds and are prized as "the bacon pig" for their ability to put on large mass without a lot of fat.

These little piggies are 7 weeks old.

Maggie & Morpheus


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Documentary on Icelandic Leader Sheep


Watch these interesting videos on the history of Icelandic and Icelandic leader sheep, a genetic trait unique to the Icelandics...

Part 1



Part 2

 
directed by Guðný Halldórsdóttir, edited by Stefanía Thors