A disaster for Tahiti

Tahiti gave birth to her piglets last night and has turned out to be the worst kind of mother. She had killed three by the time I even got to the barn. It was terrible. I managed to calm her so the babies could drink and we sat like that for a while but the moment I left the pen she reared up and killed two more. In all she killed five.

Molly was roaring from the other side and all her babies were screaming too.

In the end I gave up trying and  shuffled the others into their creep and lifted them out to safety.

Now I have seven newborn piglets sleeping in the CloakRoom. In the absence of anything else I am feeding them tiny amounts of cows colostrum with an eye dropper. This morning I will find some sow replacer.  They will be fed every two hours for the first few days and then every three to four hours after that. If all goes well and usually it does not.

You need to remember that hand rearing piglets is very hard, they do not do well as a rule.  Some of them probably will not make it.  Especially as they are starting on cows milk which is hard to digest but at least it is raw milk. And some may have internal injuries from their mothers attack, I don’t know. But they certainly would not have lived long with their mother hunting them down and killing them. It was awful.

Enough of that. We are focusing on raising this little brood now.

Let’s have a look at a good mother pig – while I get busy with the feeding. (I hope I can find some sow replacer close by so at least I know they are getting the right food).piglets feeding8

piglets feeding


Molly has recovered well and is being a good Mum though I hope there were no injuries in there from last nights disaster. I have not looked yet as it is still dark and they need peace now.

Naturally Tahiti will not be bred again and will leave the farm.

I can hear those piglets banging around in their emergency cardboard box. I hope they sleep soon – poor wee things.  Next feed in 30 minutes! I need to get organised and set alarms on my phone.



116 Comments on “A disaster for Tahiti

  1. Oh dear! Poor Tahiti and poor piglets. At least both sets of piglets didn’t arrive on the same day.

    • Yes – though if they had I could have popped a couple of these ones over the gate to Molly but her babies are too big and too many! I will do my best to raise them.. c

      • That crossed my mind too, but she’s probably got more than enough already. Hopefully they will take to cow milk and Nanny Boo 🙂

      • Hi Miss C.. Ok, this is just me.. and I want you to know, I have full faith that you are going to the very best for those piglets, but if it was me.. I would move everyone carefully around so that Molly’s babies can go into a creep, and leave out her two smallest and then take your biggest strongest of the other brood and let them have a drink.. and then set a second creep feed and when they go in, the other come out.. Now I know that its a lot of work and it has to be done calmly..

        Molly can not be asked to feed that many babies on her own.. BUT, Molly’s babies are big enough that I will bet money, they will drink fresh raw cows milk in a pan to help keep their tummies full, Molly as a good mom, will 99 percent take the new wee ones, and even if they only nurse on her two to three times during the day and you do the other feedings.. the odds of them living is going to go up a lot.

        I like you know what the odds are that newborn piglets are going to make it are not good.. but only you know your set ups, only you know molly.. and if she would be comfortable with you coming into the side pen and feeding the other piglets without it upsetting her..

        But if you could run the litters side to side, you would have a real chance at getting both litters to make it.. Only you know the value on this.. if the new ones are worth risking how steady the older litter is..

        I have done every two hour feedings.. cat nap when you can and I will pray for you and them!

        Val -Farmgal

        • Hi Val, a good idea but Molly is a gilt and feeding 11 already, I just could not bring myself to disrupt her at this point with her piglets being so little yet. But thank you for the idea. You have so much exerperience .. c

          • i understand and I respect you knowing your critters and I was so pleased to read about the self-feeder for the other litter.. and you are right.. the rest of the farm is all there too.. hugs Miss C

  2. I can’t Like this post, it’s too sad. I know these things happen, that it’s a part of farm life, but a mother who turns on her own babies is always going to be a tragedy. I think you’re extremely brave to take on a large pig in a fury, even if she’s known you since birth. Something is not right in her head, and I’m glad she’s going. I hope you have some success with your weans, and that you don’t totally exhaust yourself in the process. I wish I could be there to help and take on some of the feeds. Too far…

  3. Oh, that is so awful to picture. I’m sorry.
    What a shame. I’m not sure why I clicked “like” but wanted to you to know I’m reading your description and hoping for the best.

  4. You did not need that! The farmy did not need that! I hug you from afar and wish you strength of body and mind . . . tomorrow is another day: one step at a time . . . love Eha

      • Celi – for whatever it’s worth: take some strength from the closeness of your Fellowship . . . so many coming back to hope and encourage . . . everyone of us would like to be there, piglet in lap, to comfort and feed . . .

  5. Oh, NO. How horrible for you, those babies, and I guess Tahiti, too. Such a disappointment. Are there such things as sow surrogate mothers?
    Wishing you stamina. ❤

    • Yes, I could have grafted them onto Molly but she already has way too many and they are a week old and strong. But that would have been the better option. c

  6. I am glad you are safe. You can never tell until they have piglets what kind of mom they will be. I hope all is well with Molly and her brood. Hope you can save Tahiti’s piglets. Wish I could come and help.

  7. Oh crap, what a nightmare!! I hope they (and you) get some rest! Poor wee poppets, having their mother turn on them like that. I know you say it happens, but it seems such a strange glitch of nature for some sows to be like that! xxx

  8. That is so sad and horrible. It must have been awful to find. I hope you are doing well and are able to have a good outcome for the rest. Take care❤️

    • Seeing carnage like that is a nightmare – I know worse things happen when people kill each other but in my little world it was horrible. How you are well !!? And daughter missed this post. c

      • I know it must have been hard to see. I did not tell my daughter about that post. I am sitting with my grandmother, she is passing. The most difficult part it that it is from a medical error. She had surgery 20 years ago and they left a surgical needle inside. She got really sick on the weekend and a scan showed a needle that perforated her bowel. She cannot have surgery so just making her comfortable until she passes. It is very surreal.

  9. Oh dear! What a horrible thing to have happen. I guess not everyone has a maternal instinct.

  10. What an awful night for you and piglets. And what a big thing to face for the next weeks. I hope they survive. And that you have help soon. That’s a huge extra burden.

  11. Those poor newborn piglets, and you, too. Such a horrible sight to witness and no time to do anything but get the newborns to safety. I know that this happens in nature/life, but, so sad when it does. Rest your body and heart when you can and here is to a brighter day tomorrow (well, even brighter today as it rolls on).

  12. I’m so sorry to hear about your piglets. I put I liked the post but I just wanted you to know I read it. I’m glad you’re getting that old girl off the farm… did I hear pork chops?

  13. Oh my gosh. Even though I read you every morning I rarely ever comment–I Just wanted you to know that I’m so sorry about this, and I’ll be thinking about you and hoping for the best. You are a brave and amazing woman.

  14. Even in the animal world not all of them make good parents… It is very sad that this should happen especially so close to Molly and her brood of happy piglets. But some you win and some you lose. I will pray for the remaning piglets and you will do the best you can..?the result.. We shall just have to wait to see. I am so sorry

  15. Nature can be so cruel. It is a good thing she had them when you could get things under control. If it had been the middle of the night who knows what you would have walked into. So sorry this happened.

  16. Before you write off Tahiti, we had a sow who was turning around and killing each piglet as it was born. We managed to scoop a few of them away as she expelled them and rushed to the vet for a sedative that we injected. As she dozed, we let the piglets suckle and then removed them again. Bill then went off for a calming pint of beer at the pub and brought back some for the sow (wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall as he ordered “a pint for me and half a gallon to take away for my pig”). When she awoke we gave her some beer and having built a cage around her so she couldn’t turn on us or the piglets, we let them suckle again. By then, whether because the pain had stopped or she was still whoosy from the sedative or beer, she was fine. It was a very frightening experience and we debated whether we should breed from her again but as she reared the litter, we had another go but this time with the sedative on hand, just in case. She was absolutely fine and we kept Ermintrude for years. In the end she successfully reared over a hundred piglets. I realise that it may be too late now to put the litter back on Tahiti, but thought you might be interested that everything turned out OK in our case, even though we feared she’d kill the whole litter and my husband, who had to leap to safety twice as she farrowed.
    Hope that your litter is surviving and that everything has calmed down. A x

    • Thank you, Anne, for your story of Ermintrude to help us understand such a situation. I am happy for you all & for her that she was saved & redeemed. After I read the sweet story of Molly’s birthing, I remembered James Joyce’s allusion to the Irish Catholic Church as the old mother sow who eats her farrow, & never having known any pigs, I wondered what he was thinking about. I’m glad that didn’t happen in Tahiti’s case. I think she may have missed her chance to be a good mother. I am so sorry about this horrible experience, Celi, & I will go back & click “like” which I hadn’t been able to do, as the others have pointed out we could do so you’ll know we read today’s sad post.

    • This is an amazing story…It would be great if it were not too late to give Tahiti a second chance. I’m also interested in what you say because you supply a reason WHY it happens…if I’ve understood correctly…you think that the mother associates the babies with her pain? In which case, yeah, maybe if you can get them past that unnerving critical moment, they can calm themselves and resume in a different state. So interesting.

    • Anne, we had this same story play out at our farm many years ago! Nervous new mothers not knowing what to expect, not laying down to nurse, laying on babies, even eating the babies. The retired neighbor vet told my dad to go to the liquor store and get a bottle of cheap brandy and put it in the water for the mom. It helped settle her down and the babies were able to nurse, it all turned out for us. Good luck with the little ones Cecilia….your their mama now!

    • Dear Anne, your story gives me shivers all over. What a drama – and what an “easy” way to stop it compared to the shock one gets experiencing that. I could never imagine that further litters could even succeed in a case like that. – We once had a cat and, being a kid, me and my siblings watched frightened her eating up each little one she gave birth to. It was so un-understandable. And still is….
      Thank you for sharing Ermintrude’s story. So, so interesting.

  17. Hugs and kisses to nanny Boo as I know he will be busy right there with you through this. And a few extra hugs for you too. Poor Molly – probably having a fright due to her sister’s antics. I agree that you can’t have a repeat of this. Poppy and Molly are good mum’s so hopefully Mrs Hop-n-Pop will have a successful breed this go around.

  18. Oh My Gosh, it’s hard to even fathom the mama turning on her piglets! How awful! Charlotte turned into a mean sow, but that was after she raised her babies, wasn’t it? So sorry to read this! Hopefully they’ll grow quickly and be drinking milk from a pan soon.

  19. Not much to add that hasn’t already been said but I do want you to know that I am thinking of you and hoping for the best for the remaining piglets. Perhaps a few {{{hugs}}} as well.

  20. Poor things but more importantly–poor you. You have so much love for all of your creatures and to see and have to deal with the aftermath of this sad event would be heartbreaking. Sending good thoughts and prayers for the piglets who made it and for strength for you to do what you need to do .

  21. What a nightmare, I know it is all part of life, but never easy to cope with. Thankfully Molly’s successful birthing came first and you have so far saved seven tiny piglets. A total of twelve babies seems a very high number for first time birthing, it must really be a shock to the system. You and Boo nanny will see them through. Hugs of gratitude for all you do.

  22. Totally hoping that you can pull an “ermintrude” here (Anne Wheaton’s comment above.) It’s very sad to me, so I am, as usual, hoping beyond hope for some sort of happy ending.

  23. I know it’s part of the process of life but it’s difficult none the less. I’m sorry you had to deal with that in the wee hours.

  24. What an awful thing all round to happen. You and Molly’s piglets are enveloped in a wave of positve and caring thoughts… evenmif we’re not there with you.

  25. So sorry to hear of Tahini’s reaction. Best of luck to the little piglets, it will be a rough patch till they are older but animals can survive under the toughest conditions so hopefully they will do great. Praying for you and them all. XO

  26. My little piggy eyes are tearing up sweet friend. I know this has to be hard for you – it is for me! Some mom’s are meant to be moms – not only in the anipal world but the human world. I have hope for the little piglets. I was pushed off by my mom and was a runt. Mommy adopted me with the same advice as you that it usually doesn’t turn out well. Look at me now. I’m a piggy that writes and loves. Sending you extra, EXTRA hogs and snout kisses your way to everyone. XOXO – Bacon

  27. What an unforseen disaster. Some things in life are beyond understanding. My heart goes out to you. I rememer as a child a simular situation. The piglets were brought into the kitchen and kept warm in the oven of the big black cast iron wood stove.. They too were fed cows milk. Some of them survived, and got big enough to race around underfoot in the house until they were banished to the outdoors.

  28. Celi, if you can find some raw goat milk it might help, it’s easier to digest. Good luck, I’m so sad for you.

  29. Oh dear, and poor you! That must of been so frightening and upsetting. I hope all goes well and the remaining piglets survive.
    Pity I’m too far away to help.

  30. I am so sorry! I wonder if Molly would help you raise them. We have an organization that rescues orphaned bears cubs. It is always preferable for them to be raised in the wild by their own kind. The volunteers find a nursing mother, sedate her, and then they put a little Vicks salve on all of the babies – the new ones and the old ones alike. When the mother cannot smell the difference, she raises all the babies.

  31. I am so sorry for all the loss and chaos even though you know nothing will be perfect on the farm. Since you are most often caring for all these animals by yourself , you must consider your own safety as well. i fear I would also remove Tahiti from the farm. it might just be safer for you and all the other animals.
    I hope you have a much better day but no doubt exhausting keeping all these babies fed. Do you have more help arriving soon?

  32. We hand raises a piglet on milk and nutridrench…there were rough times but she came out of it and grew to over 400 lbs

  33. Celi–When I was growing up my Dad used beer to calm our sows. Give her lots, enough to make her sleep. Then let the little ones into feed. Keep the sow sleepy, but not drugged. In two days times the pain of birth is forgotten and the mother instinct can take hold. After that we had a wonderful Mother. Although, to be on the safe side Dad keep a creep very close for the little ones. I would think there is a shot of some sort that would work as well in today’s vet world.

    Hope it all works out for the best!


  34. Good heavens, what a disaster! I can only imagine how frightening it was to witness this… but as Anne Wheaton has suggested, perhaps it was the pain effect, maybe greater than normal or she was simply panicked by it, AND holy cow! (or, I guess more appropriately, holy pig) the idea of having to be awake around the clock to feed the remaining piggies every two hours is almost more than I can absorb even here so far away. How in the world you’ll do that is beyond my capacity to even imagine. With all else that needs doing on the farm, you need a night shift just to take care of feeding piggies for a few weeks. Might be well worth it, as also suggested, to pull an Ermintrude and find a supply of beer to get her started. Wish I could help out in some way but, alas, am too far away.
    And btw…. I have no ‘like’ button available to me that I can see. Am I missing something here? I frequently get notified that someone has liked a reply I’ve made here and I’ve looked for the ‘like’ button but it eludes me.

  35. Oh my God! Those poor babies! I am so sorry for your troubles and hope those wee ones can survive with your help. Such a shame that the mothering instinct can go awry.
    I hope you can survive the exhausting schedule and manage to get what they need.🙏🏻

  36. Goat milk is much better for piglets. They can learn to drink from a pan in a very short period of time. It sounds like the got some colostrum so they should be okay. Cull that mama. She’ll be fine as chops and sausage.

  37. my heart goes out to you; I will hold you in my heart’s inner lining and pray for wellbeing and strength will settle over Tahiti and you will get rest and assistance.

  38. If I had a way to get to you I’d be happy to help, I’m decidedly nocturnal so being up all night doesn’t bother me at all and feeding the piglets would be a good way to spend the time. Much as it would be nice to try and get Tahiti to calm enough to really mother her babies, I suspect you’ve done the best thing by not taking the chance with them. It would be nice if there was a way Molly would accept them, even if only for a few days. Keeping you and everyone on the farmy in my prayers.

  39. Ditto on the goat’s milk, it seems to work the best for all sorts of orphans. I have quite a surplus right now, wish I was near enough to get it to you.

    Thank you for always sharing the pain and challenges along with the good. It helps me get through my farming challenges knowing I am not alone in the experience.

  40. Like everyone, I’m so sorry this has happened. What a nightmare to walk into–so unexpected and shocking. I see by your response at 1:00 that you have bought the replacer and things are holding steady. Could Jake help out at all? I feel terrible I’m so close but useless. (Needed here — husband can’t drive anymore with neuropathy in his feet. Two close calls.Going to have to learn hand controls at the VA.)

  41. So sorry to hear this. As though you need more to do! Luckily Molly is a good mother to her piglets. It must have been for them like being in the apartment next to a domestic abuser of the worst sort. Good luck.

  42. This is an awful thing to happen and I feel for you Miss C. Glad Tahiti is leaving the farmy. I know you will give it your best shot in rearing the new babies, I only wish I could help out.

  43. So sorry to hear this. The pig farrowing thing is difficult, and one I have never been brave enough to try, although it was tempting. I’ll keep to my sheep and goats. Fingers crossed for you and the little ones. Glad you were able to get sow replacer so quickly.

  44. Such a shame, Celi. If there’s one place on The Prairies that will give them the best chance for survival, it’s with you on the farmy. Good luck!

  45. What a nightmare! Breathing a sigh of relief that you and the remaining seven are okay. I will keep my positive thoughts bent toward strength for the littles and peace for the farmy. ❤

  46. how disastrous, for them, and for you and such a whole lot of extra work which I know you won’t shirk and yet, sighing, here in Ecuador.

  47. Oh my goodness, how horrible. I wonder why she did that, is it common? Could the newborn piglets not go wth the other Mum who had piglets recently? You are a very strong woman to deal with this. Nature can be so awful sometimes. Sending you hugs Celi.❤️❤️❤️

  48. This gives me shivers…do you remember the post when Tahiti was trying to climb up on the pen and you told her she should have been a boy?

  49. A terrible turn of events when her sister has become such an excellent mother! I just checked back to your posts about Charlotte’s aggressive behavior, almost exactly 3 years ago, and it does seem curious that two of the same breed would become so dangerous after birthing. Could it be hormonal? Or some environmental factor, e.g., the agribusiness farm next door with all the chemicals? I do sincerely hope you are able to get enough rest in between everything else to function until the next helper arrives. I agree with those who said to try the old-fashioned beer treatment until she settles down and do have one or two yourself!

  50. So sorry to hear this, Celi – and can imagine how shocking it was to see this behavior from Tahiti, especially when things have gone so well with Molly. I haven’t read every one of the previous comments, but too wonder if this is, if not typical, at least not uncommon for pigs? Or hormonal in nature? I remember years ago when I whelped my one and only litter of purebred dogs, my girl was very confused as the puppies began coming, and after she was done she was decidedly NOT enamored of them. I gave her a shot of oxytocin, but it took a full 24 hours before she took to them. It was only her obedience to us that she allowed them to nurse – we put her in a down-stay and put the puppies on her to nurse. She growled the whole time they nursed. She would clean them if we held them to her, but she didn’t want to be near them that first night. We left them in the whelping box and slept on the floor nearby, with her – if we’d slept in our bedroom she would have been on the bed with us instead of with her babies. By the next night, however, we had to drag her out of the whelping box to eat, go potty, etc. And she would barely go outside before she was rushing back to the door to get back to them. All this a long-winded way of wondering if something similar could be going on with Tahiti? Maybe some oxytocin injections to kick in those maternal hormones? She must have wondered what was going on, and may even have been frightened of them. Of course, I’ve never kept a pig and know nothing of pig psychology or how they think. I do hope the 7 little survivors make it – if they don’t, I know it won’t be for lack of trying on your part. Good luck to you, and know we are all behind you.

    • Yes, dogs are much more clever than pigs. Tahiti was frightened of them, she associated them with her pain – they were her enemies. But I could not risk losing more to that kind of death. I decided to take them out – sad but the decision is made now. It was the middle of the night too, no vets to come out with a shot, just me by myself and a pig picking up tiny new born piglets and throwing them at the wall, smashing others underfoot, barely born. I calmed her and tried and tried, for hours I tried but to no avail, the moment I took my eyes off her she was at it again. Thank you for your comment though and I am glad your dog gave you a happy ending.

  51. You said that Tahiti hunted her piglets down. Before I had assumed that when piglets died it was because their mother accidentally landed on them, as it were. Does this mean that in Tahiti’s case it was intentional? Is that very common?

    • Yes it was intentional. It is not common but not rare. The sow associates her pain with the piglets so she kills them. Some even eat the piglets. It is very nasty. A sow can accidentally lie on her piglets but she is a bad mother – a good mother will not even lay down unless her piglets are all clear. They also will not even get up if the piglets are around their feet. I never keep a sow that is not a good mother. It is hard I know but the farm only holds gentle creatures, I am too small to manage nasty animals.

      • I am totally with you on this. I am slowly weeding out my small flock of sheep to only have friendly ones. I have neither the room nor equipment to handle the wild/feral ones. It’s only me here, and having stock that isn’t wild with fear every time you step into the shed to feed them is a must.

        • Thank you Maureen – I also feel that we should be breeding the good gentle animals – like in the old days – and fear and aggression is not good in a small holding. I do agree. c

      • Oh I see. I never thought of her associating the piglets with her pain. It is all very complex. I can completely see why you would not keep Tahiti now. It’s a sad business, but ultimately the trust is gone between so many. I hope the other little piglets all do well.

  52. Sorry to be so late! I’ve been up to my eyeballs lately! I wish so much I was there to help. Regular feeding for orphans is what I do. For some reason I have patience with that, but patience for little else in life! I am sending positive energy your way… mostly for the strength to carry out this burdensome task.

  53. Boo hasn’t gotten to play nanny for a long time. I’m very behind on reading, I hope all goes well for you and the new piglets.

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