Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas countdown... piglet count down

Where did the weekend go? Where did the week go?... to be honest, where has this year gone? We now have less than 7 weeks left of 2012, and only 6 weeks til Christmas! And I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping- least dinner should be cover ;)
But before Christmas gets here, we have a few exciting deadlines! My family arrives in less than 3 weeks! And with all the Christmas merriment between now and then, we still have so much to do and I’m not sure we have anywhere near enough time to get it done!
The other, following our visitors landing on the Sunday, should be piglets arriving on the Wednesday, if my dates are correct (so just over 3 weeks!) I am hoping this will be as exciting for my nephew (and my parents and sisters) as it is for us.
Pigs carry their young for “3 months, 3 weeks & 3 days”- well actually 114 days (as the 3 months is based on an average 30 days... though there are not actually many months that have 30days, especially not consecutively?) So ‘Christmas ham’ has earned herself a temporary reprieve, as her piglets should be suckling and scampering about, if all goes to plan.  
So from now on I shall be regularly updating her progress... a piggy countdown, until she drops. 
As you can see from these pictures she is carrying a little extra weight! But generally she has been getting along quite well. I have been handling and patting her daily since I witnessed the conception. As I figured we may need to examine or assist at some stage. And she wasn’t the most comfortable with us to begin with. And although she had made great progress, I had been attempting to limit my interaction with her, as I know where she is destined. This relationship has, had to change, but so far no intervention has been necessary. She has remained just as curious and daring as ever. Flaunting our recent electric fencing shortages to mow through our recovering part of their pen (we rotate, allowing for grass recovery) and munching along the fences edge to the grassy edge of the road/ drain.  
But the past few days I have noticed her nipples appear lower and slightly larger than the others. I am assuming they will continue to drop and fill over the next few weeks. I have also left stocks of hay in and around their shed. Though I am aware a pig will farrow (nest) where she feels comfortable. We have a second shelter, which she may choose to use. But either way, we are waiting for her to begin to nest. Then we can set up the pen around her. We have some temporary fences panels, to keep her and her piglets safe (keeping the other pigs out and to keep the piglets in- as they will probably fit under the barb and electric fencing) and we need to set up a waterer and trough.
In saying that, I am hoping her natural instincts kick in. Though we are hoping to be prepared if they don’t.
We bought ‘Christmas Ham’ back in February, as a weaner. She was supposedly 12 weeks old, though we think 6-8 was more likely. The place we picked her up from was a local family. But it was coming to the end of wet season and their block was low lying... much of it was under water. So the sows and their piglets (about 3 litters) were all penned a concrete slab under shelter, to keep them high and dry. However this meant a lot of pigs natural behaviours, especially their cleanliness was none existent with her. It took a few months before she learned the habits of our other pigs; separating her living areas. So I do have concerns that we may have to separate her ourselves. We are also considering back up plans should she have complications with birth or lactating and/ or feeding. But I guess only time will tell... after all this is her first litter and ours!