We’ve all been talking about this absurdly mild winter, but a few weeks ago when we had the coldest period we’ve experienced this year, we noticed a few piglets suddenly looking very badly. The self-feeder broke (that’s another story) and left all the pigs on short rations for a few days until we figured it out. Their feeder would trickle grain, but only when the pig pigs bumped it, so they little ones weren’t getting anything out of it. They still had whey and hay, but younger pigs don’t have as big a digestive tract as older ones, so they are less efficient digesting roughage. And in cold weather, just a short period of deprivation can take a toll on small pigs.
Once we realized what was going on, we airlifted the pigs to a hospital pen. They’ve been there a week and a half, eating both pig grain and higher protein chicken feed. With a little attention, they are all starting to bounce back. It is interesting how the hair coat on pigs does so much to indicate their general health. Now that they are on the mend, they are starting to lose their mangy looks and are already beginning to regrow a normal glossy coat. Not that they look great yet; they probably have another two weeks before they look presentable.
The obligation falls on us to be better observers and to take quicker action. I could present some mitigating factors to justify things, but we have these animals and it is a responsibility we need to own up to. Sorry piggies. We’ll do better by you next time.