You know what? It just kind of hit me that I only do updates in the mornings. Probably not the best way to describe my day but mornings are my favorite and most productive times.
By the time I’m done at the end of the day, I still need to feed myself and wind down. Otherwise I’m up half the night buzzing around still trying to get things done.
So morning hour updates it is!
This morning is a little warmer and I’m feeling just better enough that my face doesn’t feel like exploding. As part of my morning rounds, I check on a bred sow. She’s due on the 23rd but is showing signs of preparing already.
Her milk bar, otherwise known as teats, is beginning to fill. Her rear teats aren’t flaps of skin but have some substance to them. Her front teats are still close to her chest, so she has a few days to go.
Mabel, a Berkshire sow, is getting ready to have her second liter. I got her as a trade and barter thing because her original owner owed me some money. I got her and the boar, Buddy, at the same time.
Her first liter was 10. She’s got 12 teats, so let’s hope she has 12. I’ve seen this cross before and while they aren’t the miracle pigs that Petunia produces, they are still hearty and hefty.
After this batch, I will make a decision on what to do with her. I’m not really a fan of hers to be honest. It’s not that she’s a bad pig. She would do a fantastic job for someone. She’s just not the genetics I’m after.
Petunia is what I call a blocky sow. Low to the ground, massive shoulders and hams, great loin development and super feed efficient. Mabel is what I call a bacon sow. She’s long and lean. She’s not very feed efficient and I actually have to feed her nearly twice as much just to keep her condition.
My goal is to produce as effectively and efficiently as possible. Sows that require less inputs are always good. Ones that produce high daily weight gain piglets are better. Temperament is another factor I always consider. There’s a lot more too but you get the idea.
My preferences lean more toward the traditional old school hogs than the newer commercial type versions. That’s just my preference. My dad raised the latter, with a gestation barn full of yorkshires. I disliked them then and still do today.
This brings me to the subject of selection… the beautiful part about livestock is that it doesn’t matter if its cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys or anything else in between. We have the choice of variety, with many different options on how to accomplish our goals. Sometimes, the choices are daunting while others seem to fall in your lap.
I’m what’s called a researcher. I dig into genetic history, animal abilities, efficiency, mothering capabilities and so much more BEFORE I buy anything. A pig is never just a pig and a cow is never just a cow. Knowing ahead of time also helps me make decisions on what to do at times too. It helps me eliminate some of the risks.
So now, I sit and wait. I wait for piglets to arrive. I wait to make a decision on what to do with this sow. I have 8-12 weeks to decide. Decision making never stops on farms.
See… my problem is that I love all animals so it’s hard for me to make these hard choices sometimes… so I’ll leave you with a photo of newborn piglets!