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Hello everyone. Our sow is due in about 2 weeks. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on and, now that I've done so, I'm more nervous than before. :facepalm: I have to say, however, that the books I've been reading seem to automatically assume you're farrowing in more of a commerical type setting.

This is "Tangerine's" second farrowing, however, a first for us. She's a Tamworth and been pastured her whole life. Her prior owner indicated that she did great when she farrowed at their farm. We've had her about a year now and thankfully, she's calm and good natured so I have no doubt that I'm probably just over worrying about this.

Here are my questions:

1. At what temp do you provide a heatlamp? She has a large shed with fresh, dry bedding always available to her. We're in Oregon so the temps are still in the mid 40's to low 50's at night. I'm thinking that a heat lamp is not needed unless there are weak piglets, overly damp/chilly temps.

2. I've considered putting pig rails in the shed as a precaution. What are your experiences with pig rails? Necessary? Not needed for experienced mamas?

3. For those of you with pastured pigs, what has been your real life experience with iron shots? I've read that it is not necessary for pastured pigs as they will get what they need from the soil.

4. What have you found helpful to have on hand for farrowing?

5. Do you check/assist each piglet or let nature takes its course and only intervene in the event that it seems like a piglet is having trouble.

6. Any other "first timer" wisdom, advice, websites, etc. you can think of?

Thank you all in advance for your help!

Carla
 

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She will more than likely be fine. You, on the hand, might not be ;). If she has lived in a pasture and farrowed in a pasture then don't sweat it.

Very early this year I had a sow farrow when it was 25 degrees (Fahrenheit) and an ice storm. It happened sometime between eight pm and six am. I wasn't there (remember..there was an ice storm going on). She farrowed in a three-sided hay-bale "lean to" I built with a tarp for a cover with the opening away from the prevailing winds. No issues. That was my first farrowing. No heat lamps (it was hundreds of feet from an electrical outlet). No problem. The bales where the right thing to do as we didn't have any real shelter for the pigs other than underbrush. Long term I'll build simple dugouts that the sows can farrow in to keep out of the rain and wind (wet and drafts are the two killers for piglets -- however they should get air change as otherwise they will have respiratory issues.

You don't need iron shots if they are on pasture. Period.

You can stress out and worry about being there when the piglets are born and (try) to help them out...or you can get sleep and let nature do it's thing. Pigs have been having piglets for a long time. They don't need your help 99.99% of the time. If you have to help you probably overfed the sow and the piglets got too big. I don't want to be cruel, but if there is a problem with a sow giving birth then that isn't a sow for me long term. Mind you if there was an issue I would certainly help if I could. However, it is entirely possible to interfere and just cause problems.

Hope that helps. Bet you get various conflicting opinions. You do what YOU feel is right.



Keith

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http://www.permaculturefreedom.com
 

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This is "Tangerine's" second farrowing, however, a first for us. ... Her prior owner indicated that she did great when she farrowed at their farm.
Relax, take a deep breath and do your Lamaze breathing. If she's a great sow then she will likely do everything needed without you.

1. At what temp do you provide a heatlamp?
We don't. I've used them in the past but stopped as I didn't find them necessary. Right now we're still in the golden warm season. Not too cold, not too hot. Just right. We just had 41 piglets born out in the pastures. There are no heat lamps out there. Expecting another six sows to go soon.

She has a large shed with fresh, dry bedding always available to her. We're in Oregon so the temps are still in the mid 40's to low 50's at night.
Plenty warm. No need for a heat lamp.

I'm thinking that a heat lamp is not needed unless there are weak piglets, overly damp/chilly temps.
If you ever have weak piglets, mark them to become feeders, never save them as breeders.

I've considered putting pig rails in the shed as a precaution. What are your experiences with pig rails? Necessary? Not needed for experienced mamas?
If you're farrowing in a stall you might want them. Also called bumpers. Out in the pasture of course there are none.

For those of you with pastured pigs, what has been your real life experience with iron shots? I've read that it is not necessary for pastured pigs as they will get what they need from the soil.
Not necessary if the soil has good iron. Get your soil tested. Iron and selenium are two things to look at.

What have you found helpful to have on hand for farrowing?
Nothing. Our sows farrow on their own. If they can't I wouldn't keep them. They need to be able to do their job.

Do you check/assist each piglet or let nature takes its course and only intervene in the event that it seems like a piglet is having trouble.
Let them be. If you are on hand and you intervene then mark that piglet to be a feeder, never a breeder. This culling will help improve your genetics.

Any other "first timer" wisdom, advice, websites, etc. you can think of?
Mostly relax. Don't be doing things that upset the sow. When she's farrowing she needs privacy and calmness. She needs to just lay there, breath, pop out piglets and let them nurse. If you intervene and upset her then she'll be getting up and down which isn't good.

Have fun,

-Walter
 

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Something to keep in mind. If you have never been around a sow farrowing, especially if you have never been around THIS sow farrowing, use caution. An otherwise calm and friendly sow can become very protective of piglets. (so may other pigs, even though they are not their piglets) She may not, not all do, but just something to be aware of and not put yourself in a vulnerable position.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all. :thumb:

I think I'll just push aside all the books, pour a glass of wine, relax, and let her do her job.

Regarding the soil sample, do you just take a soil sample into your local extension office?
 

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You should be able to go to your local extension agency and they will have a kit they give you with a collection container. Then go home and take dirt from several areas, so you get a good average around your yard and mix it up real good then fill the container. Then you either take it back or mail it, been a few years since I talked to them about it. Fairly cheap as I recall. They will probably also have general information about the soil in your area also.
 

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Where in Oregon are you? alot of our soil has good iron (thanks volcanos!), but thanks to the rain poor selenium.

I have mixed feelings about the whole "let the sow do her thing" feeling. If you know your genetics and you have good proven lines with proven mothering capacities then GREAT! let 'em go.

Your girl has done it once before, but under what conditions? how did she do the last time with her former owners? if she did great in a farrowing pen before theres no guarantee she'll do great in a pasture. If she did fine in a pasture before then awesome, don't worry! At this point *I* think its best to start out careful and become more rustic once your herd is proven rather than start out rustic and find your herd isn't bred for those conditions.

I just let one of my sows farrow without a heat lamp and I feel like the first few nights they were stressed and for the first time i had a litter with tail-biting. Now at 3 weeks they are bigger with more body fat/body mass and there is no more tail biting. They made it without a heat lamp, but at this point i feel like its a nice option for the piglets especially in the Oregon "damp cold." they waste less energy on staying warm and more energy on growing. During summer i don't think I'll use heat lamps but, goodness, our wet cold will suck the heat out of anyone! I will be using heat lamps for the first week during the rainy seasons. Not necessary, but they appreciate it since they are born with little fat. Wet cold is different from dry cold.

Main thing is take listen to advice and do what you feel is right in YOUR situation. if your gut says "let her be" let her be, if your gut says, "yeah, no. she needs a better set up" get her a better setup. sucks to loose a whole litter because you took advice from strangers who operate under different conditions.
 

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I agree with Erika on this and I agree with some of the other information offered as well, depending on the situation. Everyone's situation is different. There is no ONE best way. Read all you can, learn all you can. But in the end, your decisions, and actions, will be the cause of your success of failure. She is right, for all practical purposes we are strangers offering advice based on our experiences and conditions, which probably vary considerably from yours. When in doubt err on the side of caution.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We're between Portland and Salem.

I'm planning on having a heat lamp handy just in case the temps dip or it's unusually damp.

I'm still on the fence about the pig rails. Her set up is similar to how she farrowed last time. Full access to pasture with a large shed. Her prior owners were there with her and checked, wiped off, dipped the umbilical cord and situated each piglet to begin nursing. I plan to be there and assist only as needed. She hasn't really started nesting yet. I was telling my hubby that my concern is that I set up pig rails in one corner of the shed and with my luck, she'd nest on the complete opposite side. :)

I have a wonderful vet that knows piglets are on the way and a farm friend who has helped her sows farrow that will be available too. Feeling pretty darn lucky.

Just our of curiousity, are there any pig books out there that are more geared towards pastured hogs? As I said in my previous post, most pig books that I've found through the library all pretty much assume that you're dealing with commercial hogs and the information in them is just so off course from what someone like myself would need.

Thank you all. :)

Carla
 

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FFF yes there are books that deal with more of the pasture issues, but these are older books, but some have been republished and are available. Sorry, I am at work until after October 17th, but if you pm me then, when I get home I can give you the names of some of these older books I have and you can find them on Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Small-Scale Pig Raising by Van Loon has been pretty good too.
 
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