Monday, July 18, 2011

Pigs: Mamas Delivers

WARNING: Slightly Graphic Birth Photos

"Mamas" is what we call our pink breeder pig, so named because we were certain that she was going to be our first and most successful mama. She was not the first, however, having been beaten to that title by Wilma, who delivered 5 days before her. Saturday, July 16, 2011 was a big day for Mamas, and for me (since I got to watch)!

I got the text at about 11 am while at work that Mamas was in labor. She had made a nice nest for herself and settled in to pant in the heat and grunt uncomfortably for many hours. After work I went home, changed into shorts and sneakers, and drove to the farm with rubber gloves and sterile water. A short trudge up the hill, schlepping a gallon of water and a camera was rewarded with arriving just in time to see Mamas pop out her first little porker- a small female that our Pig-Partner's Girlfriend promptly named "Midnight" then changed to "Velvet" when her sex was revealed.

Mamas Delivers Her First Piglet Ever

Velvet was feisty. She poked and nuzzled Mamas every which way. She dug her sticky little nose in the soft dirt of the nest. She even found her way around to nuzzle and try to nurse before her umbilical cord was even completely out of Mamas.

Crazy, Independent Velvet

When she was finally loose, Velvet started exploring almost immediately. She climbed all over Mamas and even wandered a foot or so away a couple times. She climbed on Mamas' head and was greeted with a little friendly chatter from her hot and exhausted mother. In her excitement, she managed to wrap her cord around Mamas' ear and tear it free. She was off her leash and ready to go.

Velvet & Mamas

It was over a half hour before Mamas started pushing again. The time flew by for us, however, as we busied ourselves with ooh-ing and aah-ing over Velvet as she nuzzled every inch of her Mommy. We cracked jokes about how maybe she was trying to encourage her siblings to come join her. Mr. Farmer squirted milk at her from Mamas. We took pictures and laughed and tried to guess when the next one would arrive. It was Bootsie that came next with just two pushes and a plop on the ground. Bootsie was bigger, and Mamas was on a roll.

The rest of the piglets came quickly, maybe ten minutes apart or so. Number Three's jaw was stuck a bit, and Mr. Farmer had to help out a little by removing the cord from its mouth and widening the opening to let it out. Number Four was close behind, not even waiting for Number Three's cord to break loose before coming out. They were dubbed Midnight and Neo(politain), but I don't remember which was Three and which was Four.

Four of the first Five were
Black or Black and White, like Tiffany.

There was much nuzzling and climbing and nursing going on when, to our horror, and pair of white feet presented. We tried to let Mamas handle it as best she could, but even after two or three pushes the breech piglet was staying put. Mr. Farmer tried to grab hold and assist, but his rubber gloves made holding on impossible, and the feet went back in. We gave Mamas a rest and waited for the next push, at which point our Pig-Partner grabbed the feet, gave a little twist, and out came Casper- the only white pig in the bunch.

(I decided not to post the video, as it is pretty graphic. Sadly, I do not have a still shot of Casper just after birth.)
 We all gave a sigh of relief that Casper was well and alive and breathing on his own without trouble. Before long, Mamas started expressing placenta, and we sat back, watched the new piglets, and told her what a good job she had done. We rinsed her sore bottom with cool water and chased the flies away. Those piglets nursed for what seemed like forever! It made us all hungry, and we were also tired from the experience, so we went home for dinner and left the new family to its business.

Very Important Business

The next morning, Mr. Farmer and the kids went up to feed the pigs and take some more pictures. But instead of five piglets, SIX were nursing away on Mamas! Sometime after we left she had given birth to (naturally) "Surprise"- a reddish-brown little baby.

So that's ten newborn pigs this week: Four for Wilma and Six for Mamas, in case you are keeping score. Well done, Ladies, and well done Proud Papa, Tiffany, Prince of Darkness.

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