Hog Haven Farm does not encourage breeding, and do our best to avoid litters of piglets born on our watch. However, pigs (and animals in general) are driven by instinct, and last May, our sweet troublemaker Dug figured out how to escape his pen. We spent a stressful day fixing fences, installing electric wire in two new areas, and keeping unaltered pigs contained to their respective pens.
Since Dug was loose, and in contact with intact females, we discussed options with our vet to avoid pregnancy, and purchased emergency contraceptive for several females. With a high demand for rescues, avoiding new litters of piglets is advisable, so we don’t contribute to the problem of so many unwanted pigs.
One of our females ended up pregnant, even after emergency contraceptive. We didn’t realize her pregnancy until about 2 weeks before her due date (which we were able to calculate from our expenses to fix fencing). Of all the pigs to become pregnant, it was our Hampshire, Journey; this means adopting out her babies is not an option, because she is 400lbs at 2yrs, and Dug, a Hampshire/potbelly, is over 300lbs at about the same age.
We welcomed a litter of 6 healthy piglets on 8/31, the same day (ironically) that Dug was neutered. Journey gave birth to two girls, Infinity and Maple, and four boys, Bowie, Prince, Beetlejuice, and Timon. These piglets are 3/4 Hampshire, 1/4 potbelly from our best guess, and were so vibrant within hours of birth. They began exploring outside almost immediately, and within a week, were playing in the mud and eating solid food with their mom.
These piglets are so incredibly sweet and curious–more so than any of the piglets born at Hog Haven Farm from pregnant rescues. When strangers approach the pen, these piglets are immediately at the fence to sniff and nibble fingers. They love to play and run around, chew on clothing, and climb all over whomever will sit in the pen with them.
Journey started weaning the piglets at 5 weeks. They are 6 weeks old today, and we let Journey out during the day, but back in with the piglets at night. They still nurse periodically, but have been eating pellets for weeks, so they are fine to be without mama now; she is happy to be out and about during the day with her friends.
We would like to have Journey spayed by the year’s end; the cost of her spay has been estimated at a minimum of $800, given her size. Including Journey and her piglets, we currently have 5 unaltered males and 13 intact females left. Nearly 30 spay and neuter procedures have been done this year alone, and our new policy is to not accept unaltered pigs (unless it’s an emergency). On average, neuters cost $130-150, and spays start at $250, but average cost is $400. Spays are a more intensive procedure, and cost varies by size of the pig.
If you’d like to help support our neuter and spay program, please consider a one-time or recurring donation. You can also call our vet and have a credit put on our account, under Andrew and Erin Burgardt. Not only do these procedures eliminate unwanted pregnancies, they help avoid behavioral issues (escaping/damaging pens, aggression) and promote healthy females. Intact females can suffer from uterine tumors later in life, and much shorter life spans than if they are spayed.
Ideally, neutering and spaying at an early age is best, but quite a few of our females came to us intact and older. Two need to lose weight before they can be considered for surgery, but we are trying our best to take care of these procedures as funding allows.