Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting for Circe's Piglets

Circe is due to have her piglets in 2 days. 

Since these will be our first piglets born in winter, I'm not sure what to expect as far as how much help they will need staying warm. 

Piglets are born without the ability to regulate their own temperatures for a few days, and while they can get warm by snuggling next to mom, that does leave them more at risk to being squashed if mom rolls over on them in the bedding.  Commercial pig farms solve the problem by locking the sows in tiny farrowing crates and keeping the piglets in a separate heated place of their own.  But I prefer to let my pigs live a more natural life than that, so my sows never get locked up in crates.

I did want to give the newborns a little extra shelter and warmth, though, so I moved Circe out of her hoop house that she's been sharing with Jack out behind the barn, and built her a snug nest inside the barn.  The nest is a backwards "G" shaped enclosure made of hay bales to give insulation from drafts, then bedded with a generous pile of loose hay that Circe can push around and adjust as she likes.

Above the nest area, we've hung two heat lamps to provide extra warmth when the piglets are born.  As a safety precaution, we placed a metal fence panel as a "roof" between the nest and the heat lamps.  That way if by some chance the heat lamps should happen to fall (and believe me, we fastened them securely!), they would not fall into the bedding and start a fire.

I've been feeding Circe in her nest for the past few days so that she gets used to it and associates it with being a pleasant place to go.  She's not shut in the barn---she can still go out and wander around in the paddock for fresh air and sunshine whenever she likes.  But she seems to like her nest and loves to sleep in there, luxuriating in the comfy, private spot.

Now all we have to do is wait a couple more days for the piglets to arrive!


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful shelter! I think you have done very well for Circe and her litter-to-come.


Nancy K. said...

Oh, my Lord! Can she actually WALK? Those dainty legs don't look capable of lifting that huge belly off of the ground!

What a wonderful nest for Mama pig and her piglets. I hope the two heat-lamps aren't too warm for Circe, causing her to have her babies outside of the warmth of her lovely nest!

She sure is a pretty sow!

Nancy Chase said...

Yes, she's moving pretty slow these past couple of days!

You have a good point about the heat lamps. I started testing them last night and tonight to see if they make her too warm. If I find they drive her out of the nest, I'll turn one or both of them off until the babies need them.

Luckily I know when her due date is, so the farrowing won't come as a surprise, and I'm able to prepare in advance!

Hopeful said...

you have given her a great set up! love it!! look forward to seeing the pics of the newborn piglets.

The Chicken Keepers said...

She is so cute, you will have to post pictures of her babies! I love the blog, very adorable! I have become a follower and will add you to my blog roll :)Please check out our blog at

The Chicken Keepers

V.R. Leavitt said...

Beautiful nest, Nancy! She looks so happy and about as comfortable as she can be in her condition.

~*~ Shar ~*~ said...

They are NEAT!!!