From Our Farm to Your Table

Why are there Pigs in my Bathtub?

Tue, 2018-04-17 21:46 -- Carole Soule
Alan, a Scottish Highlander calf

There were seven baby pigs in my bathtub. I thought one or two would need help, but three days after their birth it seemed wise to move the surviving seven to the farmhouse. Even though she was an attentive mother with her previous litter, Lucky was not so conscientious on this occasion. Fourteen had been born, only seven were still alive. I had to take action. 

Lucky is a very calm sow. She never objects when her I handle her babies, and they squeal. Typically, mothers become aggressive when their young cry out…but not Lucky. After giving birth, Lucky seemed lethargic. I discovered that she was running a high temperature of 104.1 and needed medicine. As she had also developed mastitis, it was time to administer penicillin. She barely complained when I jabbed the needle into her neck.

After receiving two treatments, her temperature came down to 102.5, but she continued to be lethargic. She hadn’t moved all day while her young nursed. Despite my pushing, shoving and coaxing, Lucky would not stand until I offered her a bucket of water. Giving water to a prone pig is like trying to drink while lying in bed; not very efficient.  As the water poured onto the floor, thirsty Lucky perked up and struggled to her feet. Her thirst proved motivation to get her up from her bed. After guzzling two gallons of water, she carefully settled back down with her babies. All seemed well until the following morning. 

Both piglets were still breathing when I found them although one was extremely cold. They were apparently squishing victims of a 700-pound careless mother. Despite my efforts to help them, both died. Later that morning, I found two more wedged between Lucky’s front legs and a board. One survived. Only seven of the original fourteen newborns remained so to save these seven I decided to relocate them to my warm bathtub where there would be no more ‘death-by-mother-squishing’.

Feeding piglets in the bathtub

Lucky finished her remaining course of penicillin and will soon move in with other adult pigs.

The ‘lucky seven’ survivors are now six because one more died.  They have moved onto the porch with House-Pig ‘Tazzy’ and will live there until it's warm enough to move outside and they are able to eat solid food. 

A bull calf arrived the same day as the piglets. Misty, a Scottish Highlander cow, gave birth to a healthy red boy named Alan ….. all without any cow-drama. We brought mother and son into the holding pen to keep an eye on them. Alan is the first of seventeen calves expected this Summer. A total of seven calves have arrived in the the last few days.  Stop by the farm to see these babies.

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