The first week or so after a delivery must be torturous for Black Betty. The poor thing has to mobilize her 700-pound frame without squashing her half-pound offspring. And now there are 11 of them running everywhere underfoot, with seemingly no idea that a quarter of mama’s weight applied just about ANYWHERE could crack a spine or snap a leg in an instant.
Those first few days, most people lose pigs. I don’t think there is a pastured pig-raiser out there who does not lose pigs to an injury. That’s why they confine these mamas in farrowing crates in the big leagues. No one wants a squashed pig.
But even in a 4×5 hut, even surrounded by cinder blocks and broken bricks, this girl can tiptoe. She is a rock star. It is truly incredible to watch her move. “Attentive” does not even begin to describe it. After sounding the alarm with a series of grunts, she lifts one hoof up and gently places it down, moving about a half an inch per step until clear of the nest and on to her destination. She springs into action if one of her idiot babies makes so much as a sneeze.
To sit down, (OH TO SIT DOWN!) she lowers her front end first, waiting to make sure no squeals fill the air, and then slowly does this quad-killing squat (do pigs have quads?) to get the rest of her body down to nurse those babies. Most pigs just flop down and hope for the best. Not this chica. We could all learn something.
Her litters are small, but she’s never had a stillborn baby and she’s never lost a baby once it is born. And this time, she gave me 11, which is plenty for a heritage breed pig. That’s a total of 26 babies born, raised and butchered without incident.
As an added bonus, she never so much as gives me the stink eye as I approach her babies. In fact, most of the time she will leave me to babysit while she rests in the wallow or grabs a bite to eat. I guess those hours of belly scratches are finally paying off.
Cheers for the greatest mama pig ever made. I’m lucky to have found her.
No related posts.