Sunday Snaps

Sunday Snaps: January 22, 2017

If you follow me on Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram (@gracelynndale on all platforms), you may have noticed that I’m loving sharing quick snippets about the farm as often as I can. I think I may be going through Ag in the Classroom withdrawals, so I’m taking every opportunity to continue spreading knowledge of agriculture to curious friends and family.

Since I recently bought myself a new camera, and I LOVE taking photos around the farm, I think it’s only fitting that I begin sharing “Sunday Snaps,” a weekly photo blog series highlighting what we’ve been doing around the farm.

Right now, we’re in the middle of farrowing season, which means we are taking the extra steps to ensure that each pig born on the farm gets off to a great start. We were a little upset to find that one of our sows only gave birth to a litter of 3 piglets last week, but another just had 9 yesterday and we are expecting two more litters in the next few days.

We process pigs shortly after they are born. Processing simply means we take some time to give any medicine or Iron shots they may need, castrate boars, ear notch, and create records on all of the piglets. Record keeping is so important when it comes to raising, selling, and showing pigs, so we get started right away. William processed our 11-day-old litter this morning, and since the videos I posted to my Snapchat story have already raised various questions from followers, I wanted to go into a little more depth about what exactly was going on.

Before he can begin processing pigs, William takes them all out of the crate and puts them into a large box. This helps to ensure that he doesn’t miss caring for any of the piglets. He can work on each piglet one by one, then return them to their mother in the crate.


Here you can see William checking this pig’s underline, or number of teats. Because we expect our sows to have litters of 8-12 piglets, we want to make sure they have enough teats to feed all the piglets. We even count and record the number of teats on our boar (male) pigs, as it will be indicative of how many their offspring will have in the future.


This tool is an ear notcher. Each piglet is given small triangular cuts, or notches, in their ears to help identify them. Each notch represents a different number. William is notching a 1 into the left ear which signifies the litter it came from. Shortly after I took this photo he notched a 2 in the right ear, because this was the second pig in the litter. The ear notching system takes some time to learn, so let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to share some more information!


To prevent anemia in the piglets, we give each one a little shot of Iron. Typically I try to help hold bottles and syringes for William, but he has mastered the art of doing it all by himself while holding a squealing piglet. Thank goodness for that, since I was enjoying getting some pictures today!


William gives the shots into the muscle of their behinds. This doesn’t hurt the pigs anymore than it would hurt you or me, but William takes great care when giving shots, since a jerk of the pig can mean a broken needle or someone getting stuck.
Each farrowing crate has a paper clipped to it that tells us about the sow and her piglets. We record the sow’s ear notch, as well as the boar we used to breed her. We also write down the due date and actual farrowing date. After processing each pig, William will write down the piglets’ ear notches, genders, and underlines. All of this information is crucial as we prepare to show, sell, or keep the pigs.

As farmers, it is our job to take great care of all of our animals from the minute they are born. From providing food and shelter, to giving medicine when they need it, we have to commit to putting our animals first. Processing pigs and keeping accurate record books is just the first step in providing the best life possible for our pigs. Keep a lookout for more Sunday Snaps each week to see how we continue to care for our livestock and crops!

Questions about any of the photos you see in this post? Feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer them.


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