All good things must come to an end and two days ago this was true for our piglets. It’s been eight weeks since they were born and we usually wean them between six and eight weeks. We determine the time based on how well the mom is dealing with them.
When pigs are eating they push and shove each other out of the way in order to claim food for themselves. For the less pushy pigs, there is a fair amount of running from one spot to another and the ones on the bottom end of the pecking order won’t grow as fast as the dominant pigs.
To allow each pig to eat in relative peace we try to keep the numbers in a pen to a maximum of three, thus they grow, instead of using their energy to jockey for position at the trough. The only exception is a mother with babies.
Piglets start to eat mostly out of curiosity. When they are about a month old they start to nibble at the feed in their mother’s dish. But as they grow they need more than their mother’s milk so they start to eat solid food with purpose. At this point the mother is both expending energy to nurse the piglets and fighting for her food.
When she starts to lift the piglets with her snout and toss them out of her way while eating, it’s our cue start weaning. Kali has been starting to toss her piglets.
Prior to weaning, the piglets had never been outside. But they needed to go out to get to their new pens. When the doors first opened they were scared, and then curious about everything.
Because we have had Kali for almost 4 years we knew she wouldn’t go far from her piglets. In order to get them to leave the barn we gave Kali a small amount of feed just outside the door. They saw her eating and they felt it was safe enough to follow.
With the piglets following Kali and Kali following the feed bucket it was like a small parade. Once in their new pens, the piglets enjoyed the extra space by running around in circles at top speed.
Kali spent the day with her piglets, and returned to her pen by evening. They didn’t seem to miss being tossed out of the feed trough and Kali had some peace and quiet at last.