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Halfy needs to gain weight post weaning

Discussion in 'Everything Else Pigs' started by Carla D, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Feb 9, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    We have a very special pig on our farm. She’s an exceptional sow, mother, gentle, and a pet. On December 30th she gave birth to 13 piglets. This is her second batch of babies. All of her babies have been born healthy, sturdy, and at a really good size. This time around she became a bit of an overprotective momma. When they were two days old I climbed into her stall to give her much deserved attention. The only reason we went into her stall was to give her food and water, etc. She is very fond of attention and has become my special pet pig. She ate up the attention that day but the moment I turned my attention to her babies her mother hen switch turned on. After that day we simply let her take care of her babies herself and we’d give her all of the attention. Typically when the babies start wandering around, getting frisky, and playing in their pen we will let them out of the pen and into a bigger enclosure so they can stretch their legs, eat some pig starter, and gain some independence. That didn’t happen this time around. Halfy wouldn’t let them out of the stall to play. We usually release our sows back to pasture after approximately four weeks. If we don’t, our sows well nurse them forever, as long as 2-2.5 months. The sows get to thin, worn out, and exhausted if we don’t separate them. This time around we didn’t separate them until February 2nd. It had been pretty cold out being western Wisconsin and momma and babies were quite content being together for that long. We had a couple of nice days so we decided it was time to give her a break so she can stretch her legs, have some peace, gain some weight. Our pigs are typically my husbands responsibility. I care for our goats, cats, rabbits. I’m kinda the farms nurse as well. That’s how I developed such bond with Halfy. She has been separated from her babies for a week now. She’s still in the barn and her babies are in the next to her. So she hasn’t been completely cut from them. But last night I noticed she was extremely underweight. So underweight I can see some of her organs. She is typically 400+# pig. I don’t think she’s even half of that now. I’m sure it is possibly depression or stress from being separated from her babies. She didn’t seem that thin at all the day we separated them. I’m trying desperately to help her gain weight. I know it’s not going to be an overnight thing but I’m truly worried. She is now getting unlimited ground corn, which is what we feed all of our pigs. She also is getting unlimited whey powder. This is typically given to our babies, young pigs, or pigs that need to gain some weight. She has water. I gave her old fruits and veggies today along with some really nice hay for her to eat. She is eating, drinking, enjoying attention. She seems perfectly healthy other than being very emaciated. Is there something else I should be giving her to help her gain weight? Does she look so much thinner these last two days because she’s finally starting to dry up? Does anyone have any ideas what is going on and what I can do to help her?
     
  2. Feb 9, 2019
    Devonviolet

    Devonviolet Herd Master

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    Hi Carla,
    I’m sorry to hear about halfy.. sounds like she’s a good mama.

    I know very little about pigs. But a thought comes to mind. Do you have any goats in milk? Or a good (raw milk) dairy near by, where you could get some whole milk and give it to Halfy? I hear, milk is really good for pigs. It seems to me, milk would be good for her, for a number of reasons .. . Calcium .. . . Fat and protein for weight/gain.

    I know it’s Winter and you likely have snow on the ground. But, when @Baymule was raising her first batch of feeder pigs, we used to rake up acorns and take them to Bay, to feed to her pigs. They loved them!

    Other than that, I know not. ;) Maybe Bay will have some suggestions.
     
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  3. Feb 9, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    Raw milk is a really great idea. I’m going to have to think on where I can get some raw milk. In about a year I might have fresh whole goats milk available for this type of use. I can only think of one person who has dairy anything. It’s the goat lady that had the Nubian wether and buck that she wanted to breed down the road. She has enough goats to provide for her family, nothing to spare.

    I wonder if reconstituted cows whey would get her to ingest more. She does eat the powdered whey quite nicely though. She might think of reconstituted as a treat. But there might be some fat that I could add to it.

    Acorns would be nice. We got more snow dumped on us over the last three days than we’ve gotten all winter so far. We have snow coming nonstop for a week starting in the morning. I might be able to find some pine boughs or twigs for her.

    She is such a great mom and an amazing pig. But, there is no way she could go out to pasture even if it warmed up. The other three sows would likely kill her. For some reason they like to beat on each other when they have weaned their babies. They are all sisters even. I’m just shocked at how much weight she has lost.
     
  4. Feb 10, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Give her soured corn. The soured corn is partially digested and easier for the pig's body to process. The souring releases more nutrients, making them available for the hog.

    She could be grieving for her babies. You said this time she was even more over protective. Get some weight back on her, and keep a close eye on her on the next litter. If she gets even more protective, she could become dangerous.

    Back to weight. I raise feeder pigs, never kept a sow and babies. I have bought bread by the rack before to put weight on cows. I went to the day old bread store and bought the old stuff that they had to take off the shelves. The cattle loved it. Once they all got out, were down the road in the dark. A rattling bread sack brought them on the run, right back through the gate. LOL Give her a few pieces of bread daily.

    She needs extra calories. If you can buy a sack of wheat, soak some in half milk, half water for 2-3 days, then give it to her in small amounts. Give her boiled eggs, in the shell.

    Sorry that i'm not any more help.

    @luvmypets
     
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  5. Feb 10, 2019
    luvmypets

    luvmypets Herd Master

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    We had something very similar happen with our amazing sow Priss. In 2018 she gave us two beautiful litters, which was 19 babies total. She is an amazing mother, however she can be quite protective, to the point that you need to be wary when you go near them. She will nurse her babies for months, and in her first litter of 11 babies we wanted to see how long before she would wean them off naturally. The thing is she let them go for 4+ months, and as you can imagine that took a lot out of her body. She had become so frail because she was giving everything to her babies. We started feeding her more food, and by the beginning of fall she was looking a lot more healthy. Then on Oct 1 she surprised us with 8 more babies. By the time they were a month old, all the work we had done to put weight back on her was gone. We kept her in the barn for a bit, monitoring her feed intake. She stayed in the barn for about two weeks getting pampered before we decided to move her into the large pasture where she could really put on some weight from rooting and eating grass.

    Most likely your girl gave everything to her little ones, and now she needs to make up for it. Corn is very good for putting weight on an animal.

    Here she is with her first litter.
    90F2562E-9A9A-4492-96F4-C01DC43D24B8.jpeg

    Here she was right before her sec litter came. You can see she isnt in the best shape.
    07E4C117-DF77-4563-B188-FF91069A03C6.jpeg

    Here she was in mid december. 7AE129B2-12D4-436D-AC40-F7D09588D12D.jpeg

    I don’t have any photos, but she got, really bad, to the point I could see the outline of her spine and hips. However once we seperated her, and gave her lots of extra food, she quickly started gaining weight back.
     
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  6. Feb 10, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    @Baymule you have been tremendously helpful. I really do like the idea of soured corn. From what I’ve heard soured corn can be a bit smelly or offensive smelling. I’m assuming it would need to stay in a liquid state and not frozen solid. Our barn isn’t insulated in the least and none of us involved with the animals have heated garages. Is the smell something that can be half way pleasant if brought into the house to ferment? I’m also wondering if since it is something that is fermenting, would it produce enough of its own heat to keep it from freezing if it were covered? Lately our barn has been between 20-32 degrees in there except for the goat pen. That seems to stay a few degrees warmer since it is covered and has a lower ceiling. We are still having temps cold enough to freeze 3-5 inch deep water nearly solid in approximately a six hour period.

    I’m also wondering if I were to mix in some powdered whey and bread crumbs if she would think she’s getting homemade tapioca pudding and guzzle it right down? Is the soured corn something she should have an endless quantity of or should it be limited to a couple of gallons per day? I don’t want to make her sick, just fatten her up. Our pigs do typically have feed left over in their trough 20-24 hours later. So I thinking they aren’t gluttons like goats. We’ve never fed our pigs fermented or gassy intentionally before. Since she’s so emaciated I wonder if she may need to be started slower than a typical pig.

    I was thinking she could possibly get dangerous with her next litter of piglets. That’s not something we can’t work with. We hardly went into her stall this time around. Only for necessary chores. We are able to feed and water from over the sides of her pen. Her stall did get pretty thick and nasty over this two month period. But, I think that muck also kept her and her babies warm during our cold snaps. We do have one larger area in the barn that’s about 10’x15’. It also has a small pasture of its own attachedto it. We can close the door off to keep her and her babies in when we want to. But we can also open it up so only really little pigs can come and go or we can make it so she can come and go with them as well. This is actually our “sick bay, nurses station” she has spent several months in this area all alone because she hurt her leg and we needed to restrict her movements some. She got extra attention and love when she was in her earlier this year. We didn’t want her lonely so Abby and I went in there to pet her, talk to her, give her pretty bouquets to snack on. She was was in hog heaven when she was in there. I think this area would be a really good option for her next time she farrows. I’m thinking that won’t be happening before late fall or winter however.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful input. You have me thinking now.
     
  7. Feb 10, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    I’m going to try and get a couple of pictures of her in this state. It will be good to have the pictures as a reference to her improvements. I do suspect you are right about her possibly becoming on the dangerous to human side with her next litter. I think we can accommodate that if it were to happen. I explained a potential setup for her next time she farrows.

    This time she still wanted and looked for attention. We sure gave it to her over the wall of her stall. We decided to leave her babies alone this time. We usually handle, hold, snuggle all of our babies from the getgo. We have had the nicest pigs doing this. But that didn’t happen to any of the babies in our last round of babies. These piglets aren’t quite as friendly as we like them, but they are coming around slowly.

    Halfy does sound like your Prissier. I think Halfy would still be nursing them when the snow melted, if she didn’t die due to starvation. Halfy has had our best babies out of the four sows. The other three sows either have had really big babies, roughly twice the size they should have been, she has yet to birth a weak piglet. She’s so very aware of where her babies are all of the time. She only stepped on one this time around and we are taking the blame for that. We had been in her stall messing with her and her babies the first day. We think that threw her off her game. Then we have one sow that only had 8 piglets her first round and this time around only 4. She’s our female piglet maker and hers are all healthy as well, just small litters. There was discussion about freezer camp for her after this last batch. But hubby wants to give her one more chance. But, honestly I doubt he’d send her or any of our four girls sows to camp. We only had one that was a real PITA. That was Thelma. She started this round with 13 babies and managed to tromp on all but the three we rescued. Only one of hers survived and is still around. He’s breeding material in our minds. We just don’t need him. We already have two boars we are keeping.
     
  8. Feb 10, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    You would probably have to put the corn buckets in the house to keep them warm enough to ferment. Keep a lid on them, put them in a closet if you can. Don't do a whole lot at one time, start her off slow. I keep 5-8 buckets going at a time when I have feeder pigs. I pour off some of the juice in a new bucket of corn to get it jump started. It smells a bit, maybe when it gets too ripe you could take it to the barn. Just have to see if it freezes or not.

    I free feed feeder pigs with pellets and sour corn. Sometimes they don't eat much of the corn, sometimes they do. But they rush to drink the juice that it is soured in, so don't pour it off, they like it. As it gets time for slaughter, I take away the pellets and only give them soured corn. A different feeding schedule than yours, but for a different purpose.
     
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  9. Feb 10, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    If you do decide to get rid of an older boar or sow, don't take them to the sale, you won't get much for one. Fatten up on soured corn for 45 days and take to slaughter.
     
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  10. Feb 10, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    These aren’t the best pictures of my sweet girl Halfy. But they should give you some idea about what she usually looks like and what she looks like now.

    This is what she looked like moments after she gave birth to her babies.
    C556DA9F-D84E-45E5-9A6D-3A3A976CD847.png

    This is what she looks like tonight.
    9D9456F7-4B93-497F-8827-4DC4CC8D7092.jpeg A7E12B5C-FD0F-477A-A885-43AF218ABCCC.jpeg

    Halfy never did get very big with this litter of babies. In fact, I wasn’t convinced that she was pregnant until I got a phone call telling me we had brand new babies.
     
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