Farrowing preparations for January 2020

This time around I’m a lot more confident that Sissy is actually in-pig and is due to farrow in a little under 2 weeks. I’m very aware that I’ve said something similar before but all the signs are there so far.

When I look back on blog updates from this time last year I’m can’t quite understand how I allowed myself to believe that she was heading towards farrowing. I suspect it was probably because I had noted everything carefully on the calendar and once I saw it there I didn’t question it again. Lesson learned for that time!

This year will be the first litter for Sissy since she won all the rosettes at the Northumberland Show last May. It was quite a day out for all of us and she did so well to win Traditional Breed Champion Female so I felt she deserved a little break.

Sissy (left) and Fifi enjoying their breakfast

Sissy and Fifi have spent the last few months in some woods (an old stone quarry I’m told) in the front fields. However that can get very wet in the worst weather so they’re both looking forward to a change of scene later this week.

Fifi will move to a new pen in the woods at the back where she will be joined by a couple of the younger meat pigs so she has some company. I’m fairly confident that she is also in-pig but I think I’ll do one more check in a couple of weeks time before I can be completely sure.

Sissy will get the luxury of the farrowing shed closer to the house so she can relax and prepare herself. It may not come with spa facilities or a hot tub but it will make a nice change from the muddy woods for her (and for us!)

Sissy looking forward to getting into the farrowing shed

Happy birthday to Esther and Sissy

Today was a special day which normally gets overlooked in the mad rush before Christmas so this year I’m quietly pleased with myself for marking the special event with a blog post

It’s hard for me to believe in a way but our 2 main Tamworth breeding sows – Sissy and Esther – are 5 years old today and they were only 8 weeks old when we first collected them.

From such a subdued beginning as part of our 3rd batch of 4 weaners, they’ve managed to make themselves an integral part of our life here. I can hardly imagine life without them now.

Back in 2015, after gaining some experience with 3 previous sets of meat pigs, we bought another 4 pedigree Tamworth weaners. The idea was that 2 of them would be for meat (the “eaters”) and 2 would be kept for breeding (the “keepers”).

When we collected them from the breeder they were marked to indicate the two most promising to keep and as it turned out over time that was how they developed.

First off the trailer in 2015, the keepers!

It’s quite a contrast to look back at the early photos now particularly as Esther currently has her latest litter for company. I’m sure she appreciates the social aspect but they’re just over 3 months old and probably are a little annoying at times – especially meal times!

Esther – all grown up with little ‘uns of her own

By contrast, Sissy just has Fifi for company at the moment but will farrow in about 3 weeks so she’s quite a size! I expect that if she does know what’s coming then she’s appreciating the relative peace and quiet for now.

Sissy – hopefully with little ‘uns coming soon

Over the years I have learned to treat both sows with a certain amount of respect and caution but not because they are in any way aggressive. If I had to guess, a full grown Tamworth sow must weigh at least 250-300kg so it’s a good idea not to let them stand on your foot or even worse knock you over in the mud!

We will continue to give all our breeding sows the best life possible which will include their retirement years when that time comes. They have been a part of our lives for almost 5 years so they are considered part of the family now