Saturday, November 13, 2010

Visiting the pigs

The children enjoying the view from the back of the ute.
This morning we took the Campbells to have a look at the farm that Brendon works on. It's the biggest outdoor piggery in the Southern Hemisphere. So it really is quite something to see.
To the sows first. These sows are pregnant. They have wallows in their areas but this one is a natural one (without a water source) and so it's more muddy than the others.
It was such a treat though to see how they enjoyed getting cooled off in the mud.
Then we headed over to have a look at the sows with their piglets. Unfortunately I was so distracted by pointing things out to the children and explaining to them what Brendon was telling us that I did not take any photos. And it's always so very cute to see the piglets running across the fields. We saw the rollers that they put in front of the huts for the first 10 days so that the piglets can't get out. The sow can go in and out to get food and water but it's good to keep the tiny new borns in one area for those first days.
A while ago Brendon set up a foster area in his section as he was getting a number of weaned piglets that were just too small. He then uses sows who still have a lot of milk (but whose piglets are weaned) to feed the runty ones. We have seen this section before but were treated today by having a couple of the sows be outside their huts while they fed. Mother happily eats and grunts for her piglets to "come and get it".
In the next pen the sow decided to rather lie down at feed time. We heard her grunting though to call them. Their milk comes every hour but when it comes it does not last long. So when she calls they must come.
The paint on the back of the piglets is just to keep track of ones that are sick and that they have been medicated. 
Then we moved over to the weaned piglets. Brendon caught one for us to wipe.
And such a cute little one too. He carried it over holding it by one leg. As soon as he let go of the leg it started squealing terribly and wiggling around. So he had to keep that one leg held tight.
They get really scared at first but if you get low and are quiet and still they slowly make their way over to investigate. They are actually quite inquisitive.
Then having a look at the bigger pigs.
Brendon explaining the order sort - how the scales are set
and sort the pigs automatically for sales.
All crowding over to this side of the shed. Just as
inquisitive as when they were young but far less afraid.
Another special treat for us was seeing the pigs being loaded.
First onto a crate.
And then onto the truck. An idea set up as the pigs don't
have to walk up or down any ramps - the Merlo adjusting
the height as needs be.

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