The learning Curve

Yesterday I mentioned that I was concerned that the piglets were not showing the usual amount of vigor. These ones were spending way too much time sleeping. They were way too quiet.

valbjerke said to me had I given the piglets iron.  I sat back in my chair. No. I hadn’t. The only time I gave piglets iron was when I had all that trouble with Tahitis piglets.  I don’t inject iron as a matter of course. But I never have had piglets this lethargic either.

I sat and watched the blinking curser beside the message and remembered that Molly was eating everything  before she gave birth- her behaviour was not normal – she devoured everything – she must have been short of iron and her body was sending her looking. Her diet of deep greens, eggs and alfalfa and grains should have met this. It was the best I could do. She had a yard of soil. I was positive I had covered all the dietary bases – I am so careful of that. But there you are. Maybe the babies were born anaemic. 

I pushed the chair back from the table and went to work.

I got out the bottle of iron  from my farm cupboard of all things and got out the needles, collected Alex, went to the barn, the piglets were sleeping as usual, I locked Molly out in the field and we loaded all the piglets into a tote and gave each one a shot before returning them to bed. They screamed and squawked and bit but they are so small they are really easy to manage.

After the procedure was over, I settled them all back in their sleeping creep and let their entirely unconcerned mother back in.

The change was dramatic. By lunchtime they were up and running around the pen. (check the insty below) Literally bouncing about. Drinking voraciously. All over the place. Noisy.  These piglets had been anaemic.  Poor wee things. Let’s hope this was enough to get them going. Lets hope they can catch up and start putting on some weight.

This is quite possibly why the one died on his first night – he was too tired to move.

Once again – The Fellowship to the rescue.  And valbjerke:  thank you for the reminder about iron.  I am grateful. I will do that with them all from now on. Just in case.

And thank you to the Fellowship of the Farmy for being such clever and open hearted, that people who know stuff feel safe and comfortable in sharing it.

And we all get to learn. Lesson learned.

Now fingers crossed.

Have a lovely day.



59 Comments on “The learning Curve

  1. Yay!!! Feisty little critters they are now! Behavior explained for Molly and the piglets. Throw them a clod or two for good measure. Well done. I learn so much here.

    • They always have soil in there – do you remember the hole they dug in the concrete? that is filled with soil and weeds each day – and they dig in it and eat it like crazy, but there you are – these guys needed more – it might have been the rain leaching her earlier feed. hopefully they do better now.

  2. I bet you had a grin from ear to ear when you saw those wee piggies up and about!

  3. Nobody is perfect! Thanks to a fellowship friend the answer was found…and piglets are all ok. I would imagine that being a keeper of animals is a definite learning curve, just like life. If we were so clever as to know all the answers we would not be called Ann,Beth, or any other Christian name you could think of. We would be called God….and that we definitely ain't…lots of love

  4. I’m so glad it worked. I had a quick read about pigs and iron requirements; it says sow’s milk is quite deficient in iron, so it’s not necessarily a feeding issue, simply that it’s not available to the piglets in her milk. I reckon she was just super-feeing because she knew she was close to giving birth and wanted to build up her strength.

  5. Oh WOW. Maybe that´s what was up with our 2015 piglets. I had thought they were sick or tired from travel stress – they slept for nearly two weeks on arrival, but then revived. Two of my neighbours who got piglets from the same source each mysteriously lost one or more; only ours were out on pasture able to root and we didn´t lose any – maybe related. This year´s piglets are so lively, rowdy and active that it´s night and day to our last piglet experience, and maybe this is how they´re supposed to be. In my pig ignorance, I didn´t know that my 2015 piglets weren´t normal. That may have been a close squeak.

  6. Well I never, I have certainly learnt something today! It’s great to see them running around now. Have a fab, and less worrying day.

  7. Never blame yourself for an unexplained death. It’s a game with no winners. It is common for there to be losses in large litters. I am glad, though, that the iron perked them up! And you have gained even more trust in Molly, who will guide you in her dietary needs in the future. When Molly eats the barn, she needs more iron. Simple enough!

    Those piglets are mighty cute!

  8. You can see the energy beaming off of their wee bodies now. So strange. And, yes, SO beautiful that the fellowship works as it does.

  9. Amazing! So glad they are responding so quickly. I read his comment on iron yesterday and thought about it all day. I’m hoping they keep their levels up and continue their growth!

  10. There’s a book by James Redbank, Herwick Shepherd. In it he talks about how a good deal of a farmer’s life is just observing, noting what it different and trying to decide what is wrong and what needs to be done. Success depends on those attributes, coupled with long experience. He noted how his father was so good at it because he’s been doing it longer. But these days, we also have the hive mind to help us with what is observed.

    • Well said! Being a farmer with animals is very much like being a mother to the animals known as humans – you have to be observant and listen to those who give advice with an open heart!!

  11. OMP! Slaps hoof to my forehead…or close by since I have short arms. I didn’t even think about that and I had to take iron every day when I was little for a while. I was a runt. Unbelievable what that does for you. Piglets are so cute running everywhere. XOXO – Bacon

  12. Good heavens, what a difference. I had to laugh a Molly; all her babies are desperate to get to her underside and she just gives them the total ignore… funny. It’s amazing how one small thing like an iron deficiency makes such a drastic difference. And valbjerke is the hero for this week. Have a great day! ~ Mame 🙂

  13. This post made me think of how so many infants and toddlers used to die ‘in the old days’…. And often, I bet, those little ones might’ve just needed something as simple as a bit of iron. It’s so joyful to see those little one ‘up and about’.

  14. I’m so happy that things are looking up for the piglets. Blogging opens us up to the greater mind consciousness where if we try to handle everything alone, life could be so much harder. Another reason to do it. And you are always so willing to take in ideas. Have a wonderfilled Wednesday.

  15. I wonder if our moist and mild late winter/spring has caused the nutrients to leach out of the soil this year. The grass didn’t really have that long of a dormant period to recharge. Do pigs consume free choice minerals like cows, pretty much only when they need them? Or do pigs just consume the minerals put out just because they are there and available for consumption? Maybe some free choice minerals would be good for all who won’t over consume. I wondered when you said Molly was eating every thing in sight if she had a vitamin deficiency, in cows that is usually a sign that there is a deficiency in their diet somewhere. My swine knowledge is limited but is expanding by visiting here. Happy to see the little piglets perk up.

    • Pigs would eat the lot I suspect.They have their minerals sprinkled on their food. Even the cows are eating more of their free choice minerals this spring. All the rain will certainly affect the goodness of the pasture. c

  16. I hope mama got some iron too. If you suspect that she was eating a lot to up her iron levels, she might need a supplement for a little bit postpartum. Just to make sure she’s up to snuff with all those lil piggies running around. A vitamin/mineral supplement is hard to overdo. I think that’s why so many people give them as a matter of course for every pregnancy, on the farm or off.

  17. Maybe the iron deficiency is why Molly has those bald patches too, which is why I thought maybe the Red Cell would help…it has lots of iron! I would give her a dose of the iron too..although the Red Cell is much easier…you just mix it with her food. It’s in liquid form and has all kinds of other good stuff in it too! Soo glad your little piggies have perked up!

  18. We are all invested with the farmy! Some of us right from the beginning, others of us later, but still all invested.

  19. That comes under the heading, “It’s always something!”.

  20. Sounds like me when I feel ‘punk’ – not that I am a pig, ahem – just quite lethargic, even with vitamin pills. Sometimes a day of sun and an iron injection clears it right up. Piggies, I KNOW that ‘tired’ feeling only too well! Glad you got ’em up and running, Ceci! And a huge thank you to Valbjerke!

  21. Valbjerke is the hero for sure. And you Cecilia for accepting the suggestion! It takes humility to offer and accept advice. I haven’t seen the videos yet but will later today. Can’t wait! Well done all!

  22. What a relief that all worked well, thanks to your good souls, Valbjerke and Celi.
    I cannot watch pics or videos on Insta anymore: They threw me out – wanted a telephone number. Is that normal? – The other day I gave in just some random figures, which I now do not remember anymore… So they do not let me in again. What a pity…. what a pity.

  23. The learning experience never ends. I’ve had horses 40 some years and the more I learn the more I know I don’t know, if that makes sense! BTW farmer Bob lost his barn to fire last night, I don’t believe he has kune kunes any more but all his zebus are safe. He may have lost a couple of ducks that were sitting on eggs.

  24. This is a good thing to know. When I lived in CO and raised a few weaner pigs, the breeders routinely gave iron shots to piglets but I didn’t know it could be a life-or-death thing. Thanks very much for sharing your experience.

    • Sorry, didn’t read through all of the comments until now… So much rain everywhere this year, you certainly won’t be the only one. And might it affect all the other (types of) mothers as well, d’you think? ):

  25. Everything happens for a reason… and there is much to learn in this life. And nothing dies in vain. There is always a gift (message or lesson) to be had.

  26. Pingback: The learning curve | A Small Country Living

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