Almost three weeks old now, our first litter of farm-born piglets is healthy and boisterous. The sow, a heritage breed called a Large Black, has spent the last couple weeks in a ‘maternity ward’ of sorts. Now, with the warm weather and a little growth, the little piglets have been romping in the sunshine. Although many breeders go through a lot of contortions to farrow (birth) piglets and raise them in special crates to protect them from the, well, unfortunate possibility of the sow accidentally crushing one or two, we have had to take no extra measures. Mudflaps (the sow) simply had her pigs and cared for them. Imagine. Selecting for traits like good mothering instincts is often overlooked, but for us it is one of the primary criteria for our breeding sows. Of the six females in a litter of eight, we’ll plan to keep a couple here at the farm to grow up and have little baby blacks of their own.
Also an important mothering trait: patience.