The piglets had their two month birthday last week.
That two months marks a time of change for the both the piglets and Plum, their mother.
Right around 8 weeks of age, piglets are usually weaned from their mom. They are eating solid foods, and able to forage out on pasture. Our six piggies were ready to move away from Plum and the Small Animal Barn, and their new paddock was set up on the south side of the old hoop house.
Plum was not particularly pleased when the piglets were removed from her side. In fact, she even jumped over the lower portion of the Dutch door in the Small Animal Barn, which, if you have ever met lovely Plum, seems like some feat (“some pig”). Don’t worry, though, Plum is fine, though the door is a little dinged up.
The other reason for weaning the growing piglets is that we would like Plum to have more babies by the spring. Within this week of her piglets being weaned, Plum was in heat again. Physically, Plum’s body changes when she is in heat, and anyone at the farm may have heard her “dinosaur sounds”, a whine/grunt/bellow that also signals she has entered estrus.
Rather than keeping a boar on the farm, we artificially inseminate Plum. Carolyn and Becca took on this task, and had to act rather quickly: sows generally are in heat for only 40 hours—which, when orders need to be placed and mailed overnight, allows for a quick window of opportunity for Plum to conceive.
We’ll know if the AI was a success in approximately 21 days. If it was unsuccessful, everyone will probably hear those “dinosaur sounds” erupting periodically from Plum’s paddock during her next estrus. If it was successful, look for new piglets around the Maple Celebration and Pancake Breakfast in March.
We’ll keep you updated via the “Piglet Post”.