Are you ready for winter? It’s a common phrase heard every fall all over the place.
What does it take to be ready?
Vehicles and houses need to be winterized. On top this, a farmer needs to make sure the animals have a warm place to spend those cold days.
Those animals that won’t be going through the winter need to be butchered. This has been common practice since humans began domesticating animals. The ones culled are usually either raised for meat, too old to make it through the winter, or have not become pregnant with next year’s young.
This was the case with Sienna.
We got Kali and Sienna two years ago when they were only a few months old. They were meant to be our breeder sows. The following summer they both went to visit Boris, the boar.
Both Kali and Sienna had litters of piglets last fall. But Sienna lost all of hers. So instead of raising piglets, she waited around for spring. We needed to put her with a boar so she could be bred again. But there weren’t any that I knew of around here, except for one of Kali’s piglets.
Pigs need to be at least six months old before they are mature enough to mate. As Kali and Sienna didn’t share bloodlines, this little boar would work for Sienna. All we had to do was wait for him to become old enough.
In June, the boar was eight months old and we moved Sienna into his pen. We waited and watched for the rest of the summer.
By fall, unfortunately, it didn’t appear that Sienna had been bred. So, with a heavy heart, we put her on the list of pigs that would probably need to be butchered.
It is very difficult to tell if pigs are pregnant. They are already large animals and piglets only weigh about a pound or two when they are born.
We still kept watching her, but Sienna really wasn’t putting on any weight or changing her shape at all. It wasn’t until the end of October that we knew for sure. When her milk started to come in, that’s when we knew we had to get her into the barn quickly, or we might lose her second litter.
We didn’t know how much time we had. It was once her new pen was ready that the fun began.
We needed to move her from her outside pen into the barn. Sienna weighs about 600 pounds, so if she doesn’t want to go somewhere, there isn’t much we can do to convince her. Feed is always a good draw but it doesn’t always work.
Once out of her pen, she wanted to do some exploring. She smelled another pig she hadn’t met before and went over to say, “Hi”.
It took some doing, but finally she was ready to go into the barn. And 10 days later she had her piglets. There were only four and she lost one the first night, but the other three are doing well and growing.