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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Piglets, Chicks & Hogs oh My!

As stated in the previous post, Lucy our sow, had a litter of 10 piglets on Saturday. Well, four days after her, Ethel had her a litter of 10 piglets. Now all would be great if all 20 piglets make it but in Ethel's litter, 2 were extremely small. I mean small. Lucy actually had 12 piglets, but 2 of them didn't make it and the two that we think might have been still born were much larger than these 2 runts. We try to allow things to be as nature would have them here so I unfortunately have to go by the way of "survival of the fittest." It is hard seeing these two little guys fight for their positions. I tell you what though, if they make it, they will be some bad some guns. Pigs with attitudes. My wife has a neat little story on our family blog about them.

Lucy and her 10 piglets

Some of Ethel's new piglets...You can see the pink runt in the front.

So yesterday was the big day of moving our laying pullets out of the brooder house and onto pasture. I have never in my life had to move 300+ chickens but Lynsey and I devised a plan. So to the side door we moved the cattle trailer and we were going to herd them in and load them on the trailer. Well, they didn't want to go out the door so they just went to flying and packing into the corners. Not good. I thought for sure they were going to either crush or sufficate each other. So to plan B which we didn't have. We got a net and started rounding the pullets to the door just keeping them in a semi circle so that I could get in and start putting them on the trailer. Eureka, it worked. Just took much longer handling each bird rather than them just loading themselves on the trailer. So out to the pasture they went and boy do they look more at peace now. I can't imagine confining a bird for all its life and not allowing it to do what its natural instincts tell it to do.

The new pens....Eventually will be used mostly for our broilers.

Roaming from the pen

Roamed right out of the pen and to the barn...I moved them back that night to their new house and they did great staying in there today.

This hen came out of some bushes the other day and had 14 chicks following her. She is down to 11 now due to some stray cats. I have to get rid of them. She is the best mom ever.

This is just a plug for kittens. We are kitten rich and I mean these are some fine kittens. True barn kittens that are nice. Is that an oxymoron? In the next couple weeks, we will have 19 kittens to give away. Please take one or two, maybe three.

7 of the orange and white

4 of these...more long haired

I got our new 12 door hog feeders in this week. The lady told me at the feed store that they come in 2 sections and you just assemble the top to the bottom. Simple enough, so I ordered 2 because I would only have to pay freight once and in a couple months, we will be able to use 2.
However, in this area, nobody finishes hogs anymore so they thought I was absolutely crazy for even buying these things. Sounds great for us from a business stand point because no competition. Especially when you are producing pastured pork supplemented with certified organic grain.

These are 40 bushel feeders but I have the extra bands to make them 60 bushels if need be. I like the size of the 40 bushel though because I can use the small tractor and dump feed directly from the bucket to the bin. Plus I check the pigs everyday so I don't mind bringing feed a few times.

So when I went to pick up the feeders, they were not in 2 sections, but in about 10 pieces, with 4 bags of about 300 bolts and nuts and pins and washers all mixed together. So then I open the instructions and in there is a diagram that looks like it was drawn with a pencil. I'm not going to get any deeper because I am happy with the feeders now but after about 18 hours to assemble one, I was a little unhappy. So I called the manufacturer and they were very helpful. But this is what it looks like with the hogs happily eating out of it.

Putting together was terrible, you really need 2 people, but other than that, they are great feeders. Very durable.

The last two days have been great rain days. The first day we got 1.1" and the second 1.3". So I hope the seed really begins to come in. We are still real thick with rye grass right now but I only think I will get one more rotation on it before it goes to mostly seed head. Thats good though because I am hoping it will reseed itself pretty good this year.

Thats about it for now. I have a little bit of seed to get put out next week and then I'm tapping out on that. That will be a huge weight off my shoulders.


farm mom said...

I'm so glad you're blogging again, I've missed all the great farm photos!! So much LIFE! Congrats on the piglets, the chicks and the goats.

Homestead Herbs said...

Let me know when you've got some pork for sale! I'd love to buy local pasture raised pork.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog...You're doing what I hope to venture into in another 18 months. We wish you the very best.

Maybe this is a strange question, but, do you have any trouble with hawks/raptors chasing after the free range chickens? Seems like they are fairly easy targets. Or, are they good at running for cover in the shelters (which look real nice by the way)?

Kramer said...


My biggest predator problem comes from hawks. In the fall I lost some 40 pullets to a hawk which really hurt my projected egg production for this spring and summer. I finally killed it though.

Right now I am keeping the pullets on pasture close to the barn. They seem to stay away. However, as I rotate their pen, I know the hawks will end up being an issue.

So to combat this, I am going to make shade covers that are 3' off the ground and are approximately 20'x 75'. It will allow a 60-70% shade but will also give them a place to run for cover. Hawks don't do well flying under things, and a chicken can hold its own once the hawk is on the ground. I actually had a couple of mean roosters out on pasture that would spur up at the hawks as they flew by.

Thanks for the questions and know that if I can do this stuff, anybody can. You'll love doing it once you start.

HisPrincess said...

I just love all your photos.

We are in the middle of sowing our crops over here in Oz. We are sowing wheat, barley, oats and lupins this year, tempting to reduce our cropping program due to the drought but decided against it. Praying it's the right decision.

Good luck with all your animals! I pray that the piglets make it. Good luck with finding homes for all those kittens!


andyw said...

Thanks for the information...I was previously known as "anonymous". Will the shade covers be mobile, so that you can move 'em around to different areas? Love the idea.

How are the piglet runts doing?

Hendrick Family said...

Happy Father's Day, Jason!

I'm so proud of you!


texasmcvays said...

Hey we need a kitten....can you get one to me via Hendrick or drop off at Jessica Bolding or Rachel Curless (Perhaps via baby Ava?)
Let me know.

Deanna Deiters said...

I am so happy that I found your blog. I am finding that the life you are living is perfectly suited for our family. I have a few questions. How many acres do you own? What does your coop look like for 300+ chicks? We thought we were big time with 44 layers! ha! We would love to have a ton of free-rangers but don't have the $$ for the coop we think we need. We are located in So. IL so we do get snow in the winter. Any advice to economical coops would be awesome.

I have one thing to add about covers for hawks. We have a HUGE population of hawks here because they are protected from endangerment. We used a 16' hog panel propped up on 2x2 stakes just high enough for the full-grown chickens. We then covered them with branches from fall tree trimming. We put everything on top of them from dead blackberry shoots and vines to pine/oak branches. Whatever was around (and free). So far so good with 0 casualties. It was cheap for us since we had all of the supplies hanging around.

Please let me know your farm's stats or direct me to where you have them on your site. We currently have 10 acres (about 5 wooded) and want to acquire 5 more adjacent pasture acres. I would love to have cattle/hogs/etc. but I don't think we have enough acreage. Thank you for sharing!!

buzzsaw said...

The chickens and the pens look great! I'm wondering if you have problems with fireants getting at your chickens since they are confined to a small space overnight.