Posted 02-07-2004 at 06:12:44
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One of our sows, Ida, started having babies at eleven o'clock Thursday morning. I went out to check on her at twelve thirty, and she had three fat little pink babies. She got up, shook herself and followed me back to the pasture gate. I was planning on coming back when she got done. What I didn't know is that she WAS done.
I've never had a sow have only three babies before. I thought she was stuck. I made her lay back down, gave her oxytocin, massaged her belly, begged, pleaded, and cajoled. I even entered her and checked and could feel nothing. By dark-thirty Thursday, it became clear that she simply had no more babies in her.
Friday morning I went out there to feed her (and the two other mamas in the nursery pasture), and here she came with only two babies.
"Where's your other baby?" I asked her.
She stuck her head in the feed bucket I brought, and ignored me. I went back and checked her nest, thinking she had laid on one. Nope.
The other two sows came up to eat and I did a head count of THEIR babies. One had eleven and the other had eight. Yesterday one had had eleven and the other seven.
One baby had deserted Ida and adopted a new mommy.
Yesterday afternoon I went out to feed them for the second time and Ida had NO babies. The other two had ditched her as well, and went with their little sister over to the other sow. Now one has eleven and one has ten and Ida has none.
Ida was following me around grunting and barking like she thought I was responsible for the whole deal.
"Don't blame me if you can't keep up with your own dang kids." I told her.
I collected all three of her babies and carried them back to her nest, but Ida couldn't even be bothered to follow me back there and welcome them, so the babies just jumped up and went right back across the pasture to their new mom. Squealing and yipping their way, single file, through clumps of wire grass, and ditches and weeds until they got back to the other sow's nest.
I know what caused this. I don't know how to explain it to Ida, but Ida is a good mom, it wasn't her parenting skills that did this. It was the fact that the air has turned coolish. It's simple math. Ten babies snuggled together generates more heat than three babies snuggled together, even when up next to the relative furnace that is Ida, so they ditched her for their own creature comfort and a bit more body heat.
Ida seems to be taking it pretty well, all things considered. This morning I was looking out the kitchen window and I noticed her lay down out in the middle of the pasture. Six or seven of the little runties made their way over to her and nursed, probably getting the best meal they've gotten all along, because there was no fighting and shoving for elbow room.
Ida's getting her needs taken care of and the runties are getting their needs seen to, and everybody seems to be happy and thriving. I was going to try and go out there this morning and set things right again, pen those babies up with Ida where they couldn't abandon her again, but it seems like they've worked things out just fine on their own, and who am I to mess with it?