Posted 05-23-2003 at 12:14:56
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I've just recently come out of lurking, too. :-)
Many, many years ago my father raised pigs for our own consumption. He'd sell a few, each year, to friends and neighbors. Sometimes he'd barter, too.
Anyway, he had about five acres of pasture fenced in with hog wire. He had a small feedlot sectioned off, so he could keep the hogs out of the main pasture, if needed.
In the feedlot area, he had a large 3 sided shelter. Out in the main pasture, he had a several small 3 sided shelters, too. Off the feedlot, he had several small pens with shelters, too.
It's been too many years ago for me to remember the why's and such. Sometimes he'd remove a sow, a few days before delivery and put her in one of the small pens. The sow and her pigs would remain in this pen for several weeks before they returned to the main herd.
Sometimes a sow wouldn't show up at feeding time. He'd usually find her in one of the shelters in the main pasture, or in a nest that she'd made in a secluded section. If they were doing well, he'd leave them there.
He didn't have problems with mama crushing her babies. Once in a while a sow would step on one of her young.
The reason why I've brought this up is that if hogs have enough space, they do very well on their own. Hogs that have escaped into the wild are, in some cases, too good at reproducing themselves.
Had a brother-n-law who tried running a pig parlor for a while. We helped him from time to time. In that very different environment, his hogs needed much more care than those of my father's. The sows were crowded so closely together, he had to take measures to ensure the baby pigs weren't crushed.
Your hog shouldn't be too old to bred. In fact, she may have a stronger litter because she hasn't been bred too soon.
I don't know much about AI, since that became an option after I had any active involvement with raising hogs. I'm sure others will give you good advice in that reqards.
BTW, are you prepared to handle the males in the litter? Or, do you have someone who can take care of that chore for you? Wondering.... do people eat "mountain oysters" today?
Hope some of these comments are useful.