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Gilt and innocence

The piglets arrive: Farrowing on a Moffat County hog farm part 2

Joe Moylan

Info graphic for part two…

Moffat County residents JB and Paula Chapman breed three types of purebred hogs at their home and farm a few miles north of Craig, but there are four hog breeds common to Colorado:

Berkshire

• Originally reddish or sandy colored, sometimes spotted.

• Later crossed with Siamese and Chinese bloodlines, which resulted in the black and white color more common today.

• Breed has been pure for the last 200 years of recorded history.

• First imported to the United States around 1820.

• The American Berkshire Association, the first swine registry ever established, was founded in 1875 in Springfield, Ill. to keep the Berkshire breed pure.

• The first hog ever recorded in the registry was a boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria.

• The first registered Berkshires were directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly to established importers.

• All of today’s Berkshires can be traced to those early English imports.

• Known as a true breeder when crossed on other breeds or common hogs.

Duroc Jersey Red

• Believed to trace its origin to the eastern United States, but could be a descendent of red hogs common to the Guinea Coast of Africa that were imported on slave trade vessels.

• Jersey Reds were well established in New Jersey by 1850.

• Gained a reputation for their extreme size, rugged constitutions, and prolificacy.

• Colors range from light golden to deep red.

• Ears droop.

Poland China

• Comes from the crossing and recrossing of multiple breeds.

• There is evidence that the first Poland Chinas were bred by the Duke of Bedford in Bedford, England.

• Popular in commercial meat circles as an excellent feeder, rapid weight gain, quiet disposition, rugged constitution, substantial bone structure, and sound footing.

• Can farrow and raise large litters.

Tamworth

• Known as an English breed, but believed to have originated in Ireland and known as “The Irish Grazer.”

• Improvement in the breed is credited to breeders in Staffordshire, Warwick, Leicester and Northhampton, England.

• Thomas Bennett, of Rossville, Ill., is credited with importing the first Tamworths to the United States in 1882.

• Favored by breeders who prefer a lean-type hog, and has a reputation of producing the best bacon.

• Sows are excellent mothers.

• Tamworths are the most active breed found in the United States.

— Source: Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University and Bulletin, Colorado Agricultural Experiment, Colorado Agricultural College (1909).

Info graphic for part two…

Moffat County residents JB and Paula Chapman breed three types of purebred hogs at their home and farm a few miles north of Craig, but there are four hog breeds common to Colorado:

Berkshire

• Originally reddish or sandy colored, sometimes spotted.

• Later crossed with Siamese and Chinese bloodlines, which resulted in the black and white color more common today.

• Breed has been pure for the last 200 years of recorded history.

• First imported to the United States around 1820.

• The American Berkshire Association, the first swine registry ever established, was founded in 1875 in Springfield, Ill. to keep the Berkshire breed pure.

• The first hog ever recorded in the registry was a boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria.

• The first registered Berkshires were directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly to established importers.

• All of today’s Berkshires can be traced to those early English imports.

• Known as a true breeder when crossed on other breeds or common hogs.

Duroc Jersey Red

• Believed to trace its origin to the eastern United States, but could be a descendent of red hogs common to the Guinea Coast of Africa that were imported on slave trade vessels.

• Jersey Reds were well established in New Jersey by 1850.

• Gained a reputation for their extreme size, rugged constitutions, and prolificacy.

• Colors range from light golden to deep red.

• Ears droop.

Poland China

• Comes from the crossing and recrossing of multiple breeds.

• There is evidence that the first Poland Chinas were bred by the Duke of Bedford in Bedford, England.

• Popular in commercial meat circles as an excellent feeder, rapid weight gain, quiet disposition, rugged constitution, substantial bone structure, and sound footing.

• Can farrow and raise large litters.

Tamworth

• Known as an English breed, but believed to have originated in Ireland and known as “The Irish Grazer.”

• Improvement in the breed is credited to breeders in Staffordshire, Warwick, Leicester and Northhampton, England.

• Thomas Bennett, of Rossville, Ill., is credited with importing the first Tamworths to the United States in 1882.

• Favored by breeders who prefer a lean-type hog, and has a reputation of producing the best bacon.

• Sows are excellent mothers.

• Tamworths are the most active breed found in the United States.

— Source: Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University and Bulletin, Colorado Agricultural Experiment, Colorado Agricultural College (1909).

Editor’s Note: The Jan. 26 Saturday Morning Press featured part one of reporter Joe Moylan’s experience farrowing piglets at NC Enterprises, LLC operated by Moffat County residents JB and Paula Chapman.

One of the six expecting mothers already had farrowed, or birthed, her litter by the afternoon of Jan. 19 and the ensuing hours illustrated how a big part of what makes raising hogs so difficult is the waiting. Part two picks up as that waiting is coming to an end.

To read the story in its entirety, visit http://www.craigdailypress.com.

After a long Saturday night the Chapmans woke from their most recent nap with strong coffee in their mitts and the sun just peaking above the Moffat County horizon.

Hourly checks on the three sows — hogs that have farrowed at least one litter — and two gilts — first time mothers — waiting to farrow in the Chapman’s hog barn located less than 100 yards away from their home a few miles north of Craig had yielded no new youngsters, and few signs more piglets were on the way.

The late night and early morning checkups were not totally made in vain however.

Though it was important to monitor for the signs of new life to come, so too was the need to make sure the 13 piglets farrowed to the Yorkshire Platt Sow Saturday afternoon were thriving, and so far the veteran mother was living up to her end of the bargain.

As the Sunday morning hours drew on the Chapmans wondered if the farrowing process might continue into Monday, but by 11 a.m. the first of the remaining five females finally went into labor.

It was a Hamp-appearing belted crossbred called the Big Apple gilt, and as feared she was having difficulty farrowing her first piglet.

Typically females begin to farrow within about 30 minutes of their water breaking. The Chapmans usually begin to assist with troubled gilts after that much time has passed, but decided to be more patient with this gilt, hoping she would eventually deliver her litter naturally.

But after about 90 minutes Paula prepared to assist. As she lubricated her hands and forearms for the unpleasant task of reaching into the birth canal the second gilt, a Berkshire named for her father Torge, let out an enormous squeal.

“Baby, we’ve got a baby!” JB said upon checking on her.

Paula stopped what she was doing with the Big Apple gilt to clean off the first Sunday arrival. The Torge gilt continued to farrow like clockwork, delivering a baby about every 20 to 30 minutes. In the end she farrowed nine piglets, five gilts and four boars, or male hogs.

The Torge gilt’s first delivery seemed to put the rest of the sows in the mood and before long piglets were being farrowed at a steady pace.

—————

With the more experienced sows more or less on autopilot, Paula returned to the Big Apple gilt that was having problems.

She pulled the first piglet from the birth canal, cleaned it off and immediately put it on to milk. The suckling stimulates the farrowing process and the Chapmans hoped now that the first piglet had been delivered the Big Apple gilt would settle in on her own.

But the troubles became compounded when the Big Apple gilt caught sight of her baby for the first time and went ballistic.

She tried to escape the birthing crate, throwing her 500-pound body in reverse while Paula was still armpit deep the Big Apple gilt’s birth canal.

It took two adults to save Paula from a trampling and several minutes to push the gilt back into her birthing crate.

Once the Big Apple gilt was calm the Chapmans decided not to risk another outburst that could put the remaining unborn piglets at risk.

Paula once again reached inside and delivered the rest of the Big Apple gilt’s piglets. For some it was already too late and they were still upon entering the world.

—————

Despite the Big Apple gilt’s issues the Chapmans enjoyed their first successful farrow of 2013.

A process that began 2 p.m. Jan.19 with 13 healthy farrowed babies finally ended at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 20 with the successful farrowing of 55 piglets.

For the next 21 days the pigs will nurse. Five days later the sows will once again come into heat and the Chapmans will begin the whole process again.

“The driving force behind why we raise hogs is to seek out that perfect specimen,” JB said. “We’ll never get there because there’s always something that can be improved, but it’s that passion to always better the herd, to be on the cutting edge of the industry that motivates us to do what we do.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com


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