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My oldest sow died last night. She had probably broken one of her back legs about ..hmm..six weeks or so ago. Two weeks ago, right after we decided she wasn't going to be viable long term and we would butcher her she surprised us with nine piglets.

She has been weak for a long time, in obvious pain for much of it and then the piglets where pulling her down even more. I don't know exactly why she died but she stopped eating five days ago (she didn't eat for four days and then died last night). No temperature, no obvious signs but my guess is she was just exhausted.

I'm left dealing with six two week old piglets. We thought this might happen so we have been working on their food. They drink cows whole milk mixed with pig starter and molasses. Is that going to be enough? I might get some goats milk if I need too.

I checked in the past with our feed store -- they don't have piglet food (easier to digest, etc), they only have "starter" feed.

thanks,

Keith

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Have you considered calf mana? I have used it for mule colts with good results. I have also wondered if Farnums weight builder would be beneficial. We have used it with older animals that have a hard time keeping on weight and it has worked well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The local Tractor Supply has a 10 pound bag of Calf Mana. I think we are going to add it to the mix to help put some weight on them. Because of the mamma's struggles I don't think she was giving them as much milk as on her previous litter.

Thanks for the help! Always good to be learning something.

Keith

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Your piglets will do very well on that diet and anything else you want to chuck at them. Piglets are capable of rooting and/or feeding themselves from about 3 days old, it's just that most never get the chance to.

I'm also going to pull you up on the welfare issue of your sow. In your own words she was in "obvious pain". Why was she allowed to continue in this state? Just so she could feed the piglets? She stopped eating four days ago and you still let her carry on. A pig that doesn't eat for four days and has a broken leg is a very sick pig.

Your sow wasn't a "thing", she was a living, breathing animal that felt pain in exactly the same way as you do but was unable to go to the doctors with her broken leg. Your responsibility as her owner and a keeper of animals was to ensure that she had the best possible treatment from the moment she broke her leg. If it meant losing the unborn litter, so be it.

Right, rant over. Hope you have success with the piglets and perhaps there will be something suitable to take the place of mum.

Cheers,
Ronnie
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Your rant is both misplaced and unappreciated. Glad you have spent the last several months or so at my place feeding her by hand morning and night to give her the best chance of making it. Oh wait. ... you live in New Zealand so I doubt that was you doing that. Maybe it was me?

Since you asked before casting judgement -- oh wait, you didn't --- maybe I need to fill in a few details. About six weeks ago she came up lame one morning. Just wouldn't walk on it for three or four days. There is no obvious break on the leg, she just wouldn't put any weight on it. She had already been separated from the other pigs because we thought at the time she was having piglets soon. I have had similar cases happen a couple of times previously with other pigs. The pig will stay off the leg for a few days and then carry on. We fed her, watered her and spent time with her on a daily basis since she was separated from the other pigs. While it took longer than normal she did start putting some weight on it after a couple of weeks. Then, shortly after she looked like she was making progress the lame leg developed a knot on it that was filled with puss. After cleaning out the knot we gave her a four day regimen of penicillin which seemed to improve that area. Again, after this setback she started improving. During the first couple of weeks of all this I looked up what might be going on. If it is a break, then it's a fracture. It could be a pinched nerve which is something we evaluated. There are times when pigs never recover from pinched nerves although they often do.

It was around this time we did start thinking about butchering her. Understand she weighed about 600 pounds so we can't just cut her up and put her in our freezer which was already full. I rounded up some customers willing to split her up and we had the butcher scheduled for the next week. If you recall from earlier, we thought she was pregnant -- that was why she was by herself. We had also decided at this point that she was not pregnant because it had been too long by our calculations from when she was separated from the boar. We thought she was fat because she had not been up running around for all this time. Turns out we where wrong because she gave birth. From looking at my notes I think she gave birth about four months after being separated which means she probably got pregnant right before seperation and carried them for four month. So, that cancelled the butcher. She nursed her piglets fine. She was a great mother, and she was just as careful with these piglets as her first two litters even though she couldn't get around as normal. Then about a week ago or a little less the place on her leg flared up again. We started up the penicillin again but she died shortly after that. My best guess it was probably a combination of the leg injury, the piglets and whatever bacterial thing she had going on.

And since you are so bent on my animal's wellfare. The obvious pain I said was that when she would sit down she would breath heavily. As for not eating, she had stopped eating during the first few days of this as well. For four days that time as well. I don't know why she did it either time. The first time it didn't have anything to do with the bacterial infection as that happened later. The one thing that I might learn from this is that is a more serious sign than I thought at the time. But other than trying different foods (which we did) I don't know what we could do about it.

So you can take your judgement and put it somewhere else. I do not regret one bit what we did. I don't think she would either. She has six piglets now to carry on for her.

Keith
 
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