I got some more pigs a few weeks ago, and thought I ought to share them with the blogosphere. In the background of the lead photo is the old set of running gear I'm using both to keep their feed out of reach and provide shade for the little guys. They really need to be able to escape the sun. The breeder who sold me most of this summer's group ended up having pigs that varied in age from 7 to nearly 12 weeks old when I took delivery, so there is more size discrepancy from smallest to largest than I'd like. I'll cope with it though.
The biggest change to my pig rearing system this year is that I've decided to give the new piggies free-choice hog feed until they weigh about 100 lbs. They're on pasture too, but they clearly prefer the hog feed to everything that's available to dig out of the ground. Once they weigh 100 pounds I'm going to shift them over to the pasture/whey exclusively. Last year I forced them to make it on just pasture and whey, but they took a loooooooooong time to get from weaning weight up past 100 pounds. I believe they're healthier overall (and happier, as much as a pig experiences happiness) getting easy to digest grains and beans when they're small. For more on this topic I wrote some long posts last winter - here and here and here. The ration I'm feeding is certified GMO-free, and I've been soaking it for 24-48 hrs prior to feeding it. I don't know how much of a difference soaking makes, but I know it makes grains more digestible for humans... so I figured it couldn't hurt the pigs. They sure drink a lot less water when they get soaked feed vs dry feed.
My daughter Nyssa loves going to do the "piddie tors" (piggie chores) with me. Once a week I get stale bread from the local health food store. The only off-road vehicle I own is a tractor, but it is not safe to drive up the pasture hillside with two small children on board. So I take my car. Sometimes at chore time I carry Nyssa and Rowan walks, but that is too tall an order when 20 loaves of bread are added to the equation.
And I still have some year-old pigs that are now about big enough to send "to market". The perspective below makes them look a bit smaller than they actually are. They don't get any hog ration, so I give the loaves of bread to them as their once-a-week treat. Yes that little strand of electric wire contains the pigs. The white lump in the upper right corner is a slice of bread, not a UFO.