At long last Claire and I have officially become pig farmers. On Wednesday 11th December Gill and her husband turned up at the farm with nine little weaners loaded into the back of their flatbed ute. Having very carefully structured the entrance to the ‘transit’ paddock so there was no way out we backed up the vehicle and one by one extracted the pigs from their overnight home in the cage on the back ute. Grabbing a rear leg with one hand and scooping them up under the belly with the other hand seemed to be the most efficient method but taught me three lessons,
- Even at 3 months old and about 15-20kg they have a really powerful kick
- They squeal when being picked up, they squeal a lot and very loud and very high pitched.
- They tend to urinate under stress and their urine stinks, so much so that I couldn’t stand the smell of my own clothes afterwards and went straight home to wash (it is possible that this was a boar scent and not urine but I am not sure and either way, it stank).
So after all the waiting and excitement and stress and reading books and watching videos the pigs have arrived, been settled and are happily grazing.
These pigs, like many in New Zealand (and probably elsewhere) have been fed on out of date bread from the local Tip Top bakery, bread is a good bulk food but not good for taste or health so my first goal was to get them eating properly. I was a little worried that a change in diet might be a shock to the digestive system for them but I needn’t worry as the first thing they did was tuck into the grass and the weeds, making a serious difference in just a matter of hours. Grass is an excellent free feed for the pigs but as they are omnivorous it cannot be their only meal so I have been feeding them a pellet looking food supplement designed to get them bulked up. Initially the feed was welcomed with relish but I have noticed that whilst seeming to enjoy the food the feeding has slowed, in true business man style I have started to keep a spreadsheet and maybe one day, if you are lucky, I might share it with you.
So far so good, the pigs are happy and well fed and watered, I will be keeping a close eye on them day and night because the best way to learn is to watch, and I also suspect they are hatching a cunning escape plan through the electric fence and onto freedom. They will stay in the small transit paddock for a week and then I will move them into the larger foraging paddock next door where we will get to see if the famous Pig Ark stands up to the job.
As a final note, I am well aware that most of you reading this are only doing so in the hope that one day I will post a cute picture of little piggies, well here it is, but remember that one day you may well be enjoying these little fellers in a totally different way, yum!