Hospital Ward

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.

Piglets in Recovery

Piglets chowing down on grain mixed with wood ashes, an old cure-all.  Note the thinned hair along the backbones.  Sudden-onset hair problems in pigs are indications of health problems.

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.

Piglet Pen

All under the watchful eye of a self-appointed livestock guardian cat.  Actually the cat is  just detouring after patrolling for rats and mice that live in the rows of hay bales next to the pen.  Two opportunist hens adopted the pigs after realizing how much food there was for the taking.

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.

One Comment on “Hospital Ward

  1. Thank goodness you got them just in time, otherwise … I myself can’t always be in the best of health or condition to be able to look after everything on the farm all the time… and so I have had to ask others to look after the animals for a while so I could recuperate, and often, that’s when disaster strikes, it’s unbelievable, coincidence, or is somebody trying to kill our pigs. Maybe there are things that only we can see and others just can’t or don’t, on our farms.

    I’ve asked someone to look after my pigs past 2 days since I’ve had to look after my husband who had a badly strained back. Now my boar (with the hernia) seem to have been overfed, and now can’t urinate, and I’ll probably lose him soon. It’s just unbelievable. Things like this happens almost every time I ask someone else to look after the farm for a couple of days (or even half a day). Makes me want to give it all up. Sigh.

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