Yes, We're Going to Have Babies!
Posted by Ted Hall
The saga of our "mating challenged" Red Wattle pigs continues.
You will recall that "Doc" Pam Coy and Laura White inseminated our gilt (i.e., never-bred female pig), Eve, on May 2nd and 3rd. Since then, we have been awaiting the news of whether she is, at last, pregnant.
Here is what Laura had to say earlier last week:
"I checked her for heat between the 18th and the 27th. She never came into heat within that period, (which is when she should have come into heat). I let Pam know and she said as soon as she is back in town, we will ultrasound her using Dr. Gold's portable ultrasound! If she is not pregnant, we will try to breed her when she comes into heat again, which should be about June 11th. . . Let's keep our fingers crossed! I will keep you updated on the ultrasound date."
Well, Saturday was the big day. Dr. David Gold, our local vet, arrived with Pam and Laura along with Dr. Gold's latest acquisition, a portable ultrasound machine. While Pam is "just" a second year vet student, her experience working in the swine barn at UC Davis means that she has lots of experience doing pregnancy checks on pigs. So, she was the morning's "expert."
We used a "pig board," a plywood panel with handles cut in and rounded edges which was left over from Chris' days showing hogs, to hold Eve in the corner of her pen. Then, both Dr. Gold and Pam took turns examining Eve's abdomen by running a probe over her skin.
They looked intently at the ultrasound images on the high resolution screen for evidence of fetuses floating in her uterus. They occasionally clicked on the key board to record a still image of a particularly interesting view. Those of us watching the screen from the sidelines could only marvel at the things they seemed to see. It was not at all obvious to the layperson.
Eventually they seemed content with their work, and I asked the fateful question: "Pregnant?" David made a thumbs up and said, "Pregnant." I turned to Pam and she said, "Pregnant!" So, pregnant she is!
No, we can't tell how many piglets may be on the way as they are only about the size of the last joint of my little finger and are swimming about in amniotic fluid, making them very tough to count. Dr. Gold and Pam are confident they saw "several," but that is all we know.
Dr. Gold cautioned that there are still many things that could happen before we have a healthy live litter, but we began planning immediately.
Amazingly, we only have 80 days to get ready. The gestation period for pigs is three months, three weeks, and three days (115 days). So, Eve's due date is August 24th. As of Saturday, she was 34 days pregnant!
Stay tuned as we begin our preparations for "farrowing," or birthing, the baby pigs.
Posted by Ted Hall
I also thought you might like to know that there are in fact several more Red Wattles living on the West Coast now. We have a small herd in Oregon consisting of 5 sows and 2 boars and assorted (30+ piglets/growers).