Monday, 25 December 2017

Piglets with too much space

Despite their reputation, and the resulting turns of phrase adopted in common parlance, pigs are in fact surprisingly clean animals. Generally they choose not to defaecate where they sleep and eat. I would feel quite comfortable lying in their ark as the bedding usually remains clean and dry and only needs changing, or rather topping up, ocassionally. I suspect young pigs learn the correct protocol for pooing at a young age from their mothers before they are weaned. 

However, this can sometimes go wrong. I moved 5 (male) piglets from the farrowing house to an outside paddock with a new pig ark for their housing. I acquired a large ark measuring 8' x 8' which is a lot of floor space for five piglets. Pigs generally like to sleep side by side and piglets often in one big heap. This way they keep warm however cold it might be. It also means that their sleeping quarters do not have to be as big as you might expect. Bigger is not always better.

Whether these piglets didn't pay enough attention to their mother when they were with her, or whether it's just because they're boys, some of them are a bit lazy and have been pooing in the ark. I’ve not previously encountered this problem. 

The fact of the matter is that this ark is too big for them. There is enough space for them to poo in one corner and for them to sleep in the opposite corner where it remains clean and dry. Having to clean out a low roofed ark on a regular basis because of this is a nuisance to say the least.

The solution was to reduce the floor space. I put a line of straw bales along each side and along the back wall. This leaves them a much smaller area in the middle where they can continue to huddle but with no space to poo. They have to go outside of the ark to keep their sleeping area clean. This has had an immediate positive effect with the ark remaining clean and dry. As they grow I can easily remove the bales.

Smallholding involves a lot of problem-solving as you go along, and you learn to expect the unexpected.

Bales used to reduce floor area
Inspecting the changes

1 comment:

  1. That is a huge space, what a good solution to the problem though.

    When we went through a really prolonged muddy period our sow made a sort of doormat of straw at the entrance to her domain so the youngsters would walk most of the mud off their feet before coming to bed.