The wonderful world of piglets

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. 
Dug, our resident Hampshire/potbelly mix
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.
 
Journey, proud mama to 6 healthy piglets
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. 
Journey sniffing noses with her baby Infinity
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.
Curious piglets at play!
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.

Summer Rescues at Hog Haven Farm

Summer time is usually a time for fun–backyard parties, time spent with family and friends, fireworks, and baseball keep everyone busy and active outside. At Hog Haven Farm, our summer season kicked off with new rescues and more pigs with special needs.

Hog Haven Farm happily welcomed new senior citizen residents Dottie and Stewart at the end of May. These two pigs are now our oldest residents, at 15 and 13 years old, and are also larger pigs. Dottie is most likely a Hampshire-Potbelly cross, and weighs in around 450-500lbs. Stewart is a larger potbelly, easily over 350lbs.

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Lucy’s Transformation

Hog Haven Farm brought Lucy home in July 2015. Lucy was only a year old at this time, and weighed close to 200lbs. Her obesity was so extreme, her belly dragged on the ground, and fat pockets in her face obscured her eyes. She moved slow, and was uninterested in veggies, most fruits, and most importantly, pig food.

Check out those jowls and that belly! At only 1 year old, a pig should not look like this (July 2015)

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Hog Haven Success Story: Cupid

At the close of 2015, Hog Haven Farm has 25 potbellied pigs and 1 Yorkshire pig in its care. Pigs have come and gone through our doors, and there are a number of pigs that we have offered permanent sanctuary to; we call these piggies our residents.

In July 2015, we received a request for a pig to be surrendered to us. He was 4 years old, 45lbs, and named Cupid. We had no idea how Cupid would melt our hearts, and were further clueless of how we would melt his.

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We didn’t know much about Cupid’s past 4 years; it was immediately apparent that he was skittish, afraid of other animals, and had likely been tormented by dogs. There were wounds and sores on his back from dog attacks, and his ears were scarred from the same. Additionally, he had never received a hoof trim in his 4 years, and walked as though he was wearing flippers. Hog Haven had a foster family take care of him initially, and they made sure his hooves were trimmed and shots updated by a vet before he came to our care.

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Cupid did not warm up to us for some time. He chose to sleep in a kennel outside for the first few weeks of bringing him in, and would run if we came too close. Erin, our very compassionate founder, was determined to charm Cupid and was relentless in her slow approach, bribery with snacks, and calming disposition. He finally started to come around, moving indoors at night but within the comfort of his kennel at all times.

Around the same time we took Cupid in, we brought in another rescue pig, Lincoln. A mere 5 months old at the time, Lincoln was also determined to charm Cupid, and would boss his way into Cupid’s kennel to sleep with him. The compassion that Lincoln showed Cupid melted our hearts, and started to help warm Cupid up to everyone else at Hog Haven.

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In late August 2015, Hog Haven Farm relocated to Byers, CO–54 miles east of where we started. We moved 8 pigs in one evening to our new sanctuary, and Cupid really started to blossom. With nearly 3 acres to roam, Cupid started to come out of his shell and interact with the other pigs–but he and Lincoln shared a special bond, and still chose to snuggle up together at night. This time, Cupid broke out of the kennel routine, sleeping in blankets in the same area as the rest of the pigs. We rapidly increased our number of pigs from 8 to 15, to 20, then 26 by Christmas.

No longer one to shy away, Cupid found his place with the rest of the pigs at Hog Haven. He has gradually become more social with the rest of the herd, and changes who he bunks with at night. Better yet, Cupid has become social with our visitors and volunteers, and no longer hides when people come out to see him.

Watching Cupid’s development has been incredibly rewarding. From an abused and neglected, scared pig to a social, loving pet in the course of 5 months is amazing. As such, Cupid is a resident pig at Hog Haven–he knows how much love there is in the sanctuary, and has a strong bond with the other residents.