Eve, the Red Wattle pig, is being readied for the delivery of her first litter of piglets. She is due on Monday, August 24 (after 114 days of gestation). Dr. David Gold and our team of FFA high school students have been working on the pen and visiting daily.
We have readied her pen with a birthing area (called "farrowing" in pigs) that is covered with rubber mats. We have a corner set aside complete with a heat lamp where the piglets can move in and out without the risk of Mom rolling over on top of them.
Even though we have very warm days in August , we can have quite cool nights at this time in the Napa Valley (which is why it is such a great place for grapes.) So, we are spraying Eve during the day with a mist of water to keep her cool, while we still need to provide some warmth for her piglets at night (the heat lamp).
Our team is waiting with great anticipation, but at the moment we can not be completely certain she is pregnant. We do know that she was bred twice and the pregnancy was confirmed by ultra sound. And, we have not observed any heats since her insemination. Nevertheless, since Eve weights over 450 lbs and a litter of 5 or 6 piglets would only weigh about 50 to 60 pounds, we cannot really tell how "big" she might be from pregnancy. And, she has not cooperated when we tried to ultra sound her again. Not wanting to stress her in the last stage of the pregnancy, we have decided to just wait and see.
An additional complication is that the assumed 114 day gestation period is the modern rule of thumb for commercial pig produciton. With a heritage breed, we have learned that the gestation period could be 10 to 14 days longer.
At the moment we see no mammary development (i.e., milk in her teats), so the early warning signs are not yet present. So, we wait . . . .