Tuesday, 6 November 2012

ELEVEN little piglets!!!

As the sound of fireworks echoed in the distance yesterday evening, an altogether different drama was unfolding in the stables. Having spent the day constructing her nest, Daisy was now giving birth to her third litter.
Some time between 6 o'clock, when the builder arrived, and half past seven, when he left, Daisy had started popping out baby pigs! As was the case last time, the first out did not make it. By the time I got to the scene, it was lying peacefully in the straw breathing its last few breaths.
Now, the next bit may seem a bit cruel, but Daisy actually seemed to help it on its way as gently as she could.
The second one out almost came to the same fate. She gave birth to it standing up but, not sure which direction to crawl, it ended up on the wrong side of Daisy and got snapped at as it stumbled past her snout. Eventually I picked up the slimy bundle and placed it on the teat side of Daisy. At this point she rolled over slightly to offer it milk.
Daisy clearly finds the first one or two babies a little stressful, so we retreated to the farmhouse to let her get on with things on her own. She seems happy for us to be present, but is clearly uncomfortable for a while and a little tetchy. Can't blame her really!
Maybe next time we should try some soft background musci!

The next time I tiptoed out to the stables I found three spotty pink piglets
huddled together in a hollow in the straw, which Daisy had nuzzled out for this purpose. A fourth was suckling greedily.
Then out came a fifth.
To witness this is a real privilege and a humbling experience.

It's amazing how quickly the tiny, slimy bundles become active, clean, spotty little piglets. Poor Daisy looked absolutely knackered and one of her teats looked very sore indeed. Newborn piglets have razor sharp teeth.

It wasn't much later that I entered the cold of the night to check on progress, and this time Daisy was up to ten and had passed the afterbirth. What a remarkable coincidence that she should end up with ten piglets for each of her first three litters.

But I was mistaken, for an eleventh litle critter spluttered into life and clambered over her back leg to jostle for a teat upon which to suckle.

Daisy had taken just over 3 hours to give birth to eleven babies. Now that her labour was over and all seemed well, I retired for the night, hoping that the live squeaky toys, for that's what newborn piglets are like, would survive the coldest night of the winter so far.

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