Our Berkshire gilt, Daphne, started farrowing at lunchtime, just as our neighbour came over to get a hand moving his sheep onto our main field.
As it’s her first litter, Daphne needed supervision so I had to rope the Other Half in as midwife.
It’s not usually the OH’s job as she’s somewhat squeamish but she managed—even popping her finger down a piglet’s throat to clear its airway and prompt the gag reflect to get it going.
Daphne delivered nine piglets, seven boars and two gilts, but one of the boars only breathed once before dying.
The rest are doing well, as is the Other Half!
Daphne has taken to mothering very well, while all eight of her surviving piglets are strong and suckling well. Not all sows are this good when delivering their first litters, so we definitely picked a excellent one.
First-time sows can panic, kill their piglets and attack people when the defensive instinct kicks in. We were very wary with Daphne when farrowing started but she maintained her normal, calm, friendly and trusting personality throughout. As a result, the boys were able to come in by turn towards the end of the farrowing and see what was happening, much to their interest and delight.