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Why is Midnight doing this to Chestnut?

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Pigs' started by Carla D, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Oct 30, 2018
    Carla D

    Carla D Loving the herd life

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    F663687A-3FF1-48FD-B67E-1BC3FA209B12.jpeg 2BBC3EC4-386B-4CFE-A65C-29BC4A143D70.jpeg We have two 6 month gilts both are approximately 150-175#, I’m guessing. The two of them had both shared a smaller pasture with a makeshift shelter for them to get out of the weather in. Because of our young boars behavior, he had the spot where these two gilts are now housed. And he is where the girls were. The spot the girls are currently occupying have access to the actual barn. The area they have acces to is roughly 12’x12’ and their pasture area is on the small side, probably 20’x20’. Since the three pigs have changed their living areas there has been a problem between the two gilts, possibly the same mother or their moms were sisters. Midnight has been “humping” and riding around on Chestnuts back. My question is what is going on with them? Is Midnight displaying dominance over Chestnut or is their living space too small for the two of them? We have been closing the door to the outside on this area up at night with them in the barn over night. We have water and food in the barn for them overnight. But, we have brand new babies and baby goats about a month old that we are trying to prevent from getting too cold. The pigs are my husbands, but I have been actively helping the sows when they were giving birth. I’ve been present with 6 farrowing. I’m new to pigs and trying to understand and learn pig behavior. Primarily for safety and anticipation purposes. My husband is quite familiar with pigs, but he is unable to tell me what or why this is happening. My biggest concern is for Chestnut. Is she being bullied or stressed out? We only have these two young gilts and then the four large sows that are either pregnant or just given birth. Is this natural, a dominance issue, a space issue, or something else?
     
  2. Oct 30, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Typically it's a dominance display and is quite common with animals. My doe goats will mount each other at times. It can also indicate that one of them is in heat. It shouldn't cause any harm. But I'm not a pig person... Hopefully some of them will chime in.
     
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  3. Oct 30, 2018
    Carla D

    Carla D Loving the herd life

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    I was hoping it was a dominance thing. I’m pretty worried about it escalating though. Chestnut squeals like she’s being murdered. I haven’t seen either of them biting the other, yet. But I’m worried something like that may happen. They did not do this when they were in a bigger area. I’m wondering if the space they occupy is big enough for the two of them. I think the plan was to move them in with the 4 sows in the spring when they are much bigger. We even tried that already. The bigger girls chased them nonstop so they were removed from that pasture after 2 days. We wanted to give them a chance to see if things would settle down. They didn’t.
     
  4. Oct 30, 2018
    Wehner Homestead

    Wehner Homestead Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    I haven’t raised pigs extensively but do have some experience.

    How long have they been penned together?

    -This is how dominance is established. It should only last a few days at the most with the occasional attempt to assert this dominance.
    -One or the other or both is probably experiencing a hormonal change and the behavior is related.

    Their space looks adequate to me.

    Pigs will bully a weaker one. They may end up needing separated. Time will tell.

    Please continue to update us.
     
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  5. Oct 30, 2018
    Carla D

    Carla D Loving the herd life

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    They have been together nearly their entire lives. We had four pigs all deliver in a two week period. After they were about 2 weeks old we opened the crate doors and they all played together, shared mommas, and even slept together. Had been doing that up until 3 weeks ago when we sold our young boars. There was 17 young pigs together for six months.

    After the boars were gone we moved those two into one of our smaller pasture areas. Just the two of them. They never did any of this until they were moved into the barn about a week ago. We have two pregnant sows in a different pasture which also has access to the barn. I’m thinking it’s time to move the big girls into their farrowing stalls and move the two young girls to a bigger pasture. Well, at least I feel that way. Neither of them should have to be dominated by the other one.

    Interestingly you mentioned one or both may be hormonal. About 3 weeks ago Midnight kept offering her backside to our 400-500# boar. There was a fence between the two of them. But Spot, our boar desperately wanted to be with her. So I suppose one or both of them could be in heat. I’m not quite to the point where I can recognize the subtle sign our pigs make at different stages of pregnancy, being in heat, or a boar reaching maturity yet. I’m getting better at judging when the are about to deliver. I can get within a 24 hour time frame. At least I did with the two that have just had their babies.

    I’m also wondering if it may be possible that one or both could be pregnant. My husband informed me they are almost 7 months old now. That would have made them and the young boars 6 months old before we got rid of the boys. Could that also be a possibility. The boys were definitely thinking they were ready to do the deed. But mostly they humped each other. Not much interest in the girls except for a couple of the bigger boys. But the girls weren’t having anything to do with them at that point. They only first came into heat that I’m aware of days after we sold the boys.

    I was thinking that they either needed a bigger area where they could escape from each other or they would need to be entirely separated from each other. The later would be a bit difficult to do at this time.
     
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  6. Oct 30, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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  7. Oct 30, 2018
    mysunwolf

    mysunwolf True BYH Addict

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    It's possible that they are now bred, but most heritage style pigs don't come into their first heats until 7-8 months.

    I'd give them at least a few months to adjust to each other's company. Even if they've been together since 2 weeks old, they were interacting within a group. Putting them together to interact one-on-one can change the dynamics. I would also bet that Midnight is coming into heat and trying to get some action any way she can, and Chestnut is upset because she is not in heat and doesn't want any of that. More pigs might actually be the answer to this precise issue, it will take some of the heat off Chestnut when Midnight gets this way. I honestly don't think a larger area will change anything, but you could always give it a try.

    Also remember that pigs are just mean sometimes. Unless they are drawing blood or preventing another from eating, they are doing normal pig things and should be left alone to work it out.
     
  8. Oct 30, 2018
    Carla D

    Carla D Loving the herd life

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    I’ll be honest, I don’t know if they are heritage breeds or not. I haven’t figured that out yet. But I do know they have some Berkshire, hampsire, and possibly Old Spot since we think that may be what our boar is. We don’t mind mixed breeds. I wish I was a bit smarter about pigs. But, I am trying hard to figure some of that out as well as my goats. Unfortunately, we don’t have any other pigs to mix in with them at this time. We have a boar that age, but we’d like to wait at least until March or April to have them dancing with him. They were in with their mothers for a few days. But they had been separated from them for several months as they were in with our big boar. That and the girls are pregnant of just gave birth. I don’t know if that plays into it. But the big girls were constantly running the young ones around. So we separated the two sizes again. I don’t know if my husband will put our new with them, I doubt it. I think he plans on putting all of the sows/gilts together when the gilts are bigger. We do our best to juggle them all around when needed. But we only have possibly two acres of pasture/corral space. That is already divided into four separate areas and then we have a fifth small one that we use as a sick bay or put the occasional injured pig in until they are better. We don’t have any barrows to put them with either. We don’t tend to keep any males unless we set one aside to be eaten down the road.
     
  9. Oct 30, 2018
    Wehner Homestead

    Wehner Homestead Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Female pigs cycle every 21 days...about 3 weeks ago means that Midnight is likely cycling.

    Berkshire and Old Spot are both heritage breeds. ;)
     
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  10. Oct 30, 2018
    Carla D

    Carla D Loving the herd life

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    Thank you. While that’s not exactly what I wanted to hear, the fact that one of both could already be pregnant hadn’t occurred to me.