Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New... Pigs!

We had not planned to increase our herd of Guinea hogs beyond the two breeding pair we already had.  But our waiting list of people wanting to buy piglets had grown to about a year and a half long.  So we decided to shop around and see if we could find a couple more adult sows to buy, to try to keep up with the demand.

We ended up getting lucky:  We found someone only an hour away from here who had two adult sows and an adult boar she was willing to sell to us for a very reasonable price.  None of the new pigs were too closely related to the bloodlines we already had.  And better yet, the two sows were already pregnant---and due to farrow probably within the month!

So, the coming of the new year brought three new Guinea hogs to the farm, and before another month is out we should have lots of new piglets.

Now to meet the newcomers.  This is the new boar, Basil.

This is Thyme:

And this is Rosemary:

We kept all the newcomers isolated for a while, but yesterday we rearranged everyone so that all the sows are together and all the boars are together.  This meant that all the pigs spent the afternoon squabbling, shoving, screeching, and biting, trying to determine who was going to be boss hog in each pen.

Our boar Magick was peaceful to start with, but once the others brought the battle to him, he established himself as king of the boar pen, after giving the new boar Basil several painful looking slashes along his sides.  I put some ointment on the cuts, and today poor Basil is acting very sore and submissive, but I think he's going to be just fine.

Here's Magick, looking very fierce:

In the sow pen, Cerridwen quickly established dominance by fighting dirty:  she went straight for the ear-biting.  After chomping on each of the other sows' ears until they screeched, she was undisputed queen of the sows.

Meanwhile:  Despite all of Circe's theatrics last week about how VERY pregnant and uncomfortable she was and how she was going to farrow ANY DAY NOW, she has still not had her piglets.  Apparently she got pregnant on the following cycle, not the time that I saw her bred.  The young boar Jack was still only just barely tall enough to do the job at that point, and I guess he needed another few weeks of growth to be able to get it right.  Which means that Circe should instead be due to farrow in about 2 weeks.

The two new sows look like they're due quite soon as well.  Cerridwen, who is supposedly due about February 1, does not look sufficiently far along to be due that soon.  So she may also end up farrowing later than I expected.

Either way, before much longer we're going to have a population explosion of piglets.  Just doing our part to help preserve this very rare, endangered breed!


Nancy K. said...

I can't wait to see all your piglets and follow their growth on here! I'll get to learn through you before my girls get bred and have babies...

Judging by how much noise my two girls make when I go out to feed them (one would think I was KILLING them!), I'm assuming it must have been VERY loud at your place while the Guinea Hogs worked out the herd hierarchy!

Happy farrowing!

Tree Hugger said...

So -- are your pigs pets or for food?

Nancy Chase said...

Tree Hugger: We are definitely very friendly with all our pigs and know them all on an individual basis. But they are also working livestock. They plow our gardens, produce piglets for us to sell, and eventually will provide pork for our freezer (We're growing out one piglet for our freezer now, but he's not big enough yet).

Most of the piglets we sell go as breeding stock to other small farms who then use them to produce piglets for their own freezers.

Because of their friendly docile natures and relatively small size, Guinea hogs make it much easier, safer, and more efficient for homesteaders or hobby farmers who want to raise their own pork naturally without the danger and difficulty of having to deal with the enormous 800-lb. commercial breed hogs.

But they make great pets too. They're so charming and funny!

Nancy Chase said...

Nancy K.: Yes, it was a pretty noisy afternoon. Nobody expresses sheer outrage more eloquently (and loudly) than a pig---even if the outrage is only because someone isn't hurrying fast enough with the feed bucket!

Hearing Aids said...

these pictures are awesome!

~ Janis said...

Just learned alot about this breed of pig, and your sheep, by reading your blog. Very educational! GOOD photos.
I have a small herd of cattle here in northern, snowy Vermont.
Come visit when you have a chance: