Only two tiny piglets were alive, huddled against the wall in the straw. I went over and picked them up, they were cold and weak. From watching Rocky, she appeared to have no interest in them. I ran into the house to get Nick so we could get the two remaining piglets out and try to warm and feed them. We grabbed towels and the formula supplement and bagels to lured Rocky away from them. Once I got into the stall again, she suddenly decided that she was not going to let me get near the two living piglets. After several attempts, it became clear that her mothering instinct had finally kicked in.
We checked on her and the piglets every few hours throughout the day and each time she was laying down with them, allowing them to nurse and keeping them warm. We were pleased, but had our doubts that they would make it through the cold night, even with extra straw and the heat lamps. To my delight this morning they were both still alive and Rocky was still caring for them. It’s still too soon to say if they will make it, but we are hopeful.
As for the six piglets that did not make it, much remains a mystery. Two appeared to have been laid on by the mother, possibly stillborn, but the other four we are unsure what happen. It could be they wandered too far from Rocky and froze or that she flung them or accidentally dragged them off while they were nursing, or they had something wrong with them and were never going to live anyway. We will never know. The question now is if Rocky can learn to become a good mother and continue to be one of our breeding sows, or if we must find another purpose for her. Days like this really make me question if I have the strength to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of raising animals.