Limpy is a small, broken pig. She is a Middle White x Berkshire cross, born to Georgia about two years ago. When a weaner, Limpy fractured her front left leg and right shoulder – I do not know how but I do know that with care, they healed well enough for her to manage although she could not bear much weight on the front right trotter. However, she stopped growing. This was a good thing for her as pigs do not generally manage well on 3 legs and humane slaughter had been a consideration. Soft heart won out over common sense and Limpy stayed.
Then Bear the boar (a hefty chap, pedigree Berkshire) escaped his electric fencing and attended to poor Limpy. I assumed that as she was undersize that she wouldn’t take but on closer inspection two months’ later, it was evident that she was in pig.
I did some research. The prospects were not good for Limpy nor for the piglets. The likelihood was that she would not survive the farrowing, that the piglets would be undersized, that she would not be able to feed them, that she would be unable to mother them. All bad news heading our way.
Practically, the most immediate problem was keeping her away from the big sows. It was February, cold and wet. Very wet and very muddy and the forecast was even wetter and even muddier. One sow had already farrowed and was living under a tarpaulin in the wood; another was in the big shed. This left the Downton Abbey ark for Limpy which fortunately was only 30 yards from the house. She was moved in and penned in with electric fencing. Limpy suddenly found herself in the wholly new position of nice, warm accommodation, food on a twice daily delivery service, private water supply and a view of the sea.
She bagged up very neatly and on the morning of 3rd March, 2017, she farrowed. 1 born dead but 6 big healthy live piglets and no problems. None. Limpy didn’t let down her milk straight away so the wonderful Arthur John & co. of Cowbridge, agricultural suppliers, lined up lamb colostrum subsitute and multimilk, bottles and teats for me to collect. The gorgeous wriggly piglets had both lamb colostrum and then, when Limpy’s milk came on line much later that day, hers too. Bottle feeding 6 piglets round the clock would have been tiring work but we would have managed somehow – I was very grateful nature stepped up to the mark, however!
Limpy was going to need lots of extra feed but I couldn’t risk her getting fat and being unable to bear her weight on the bad leg. Also, being so small, her capacity to eat on par with a normal sow was impossible. So, a rota with Jane (Kennixton Flock, bringer of the Braeburn apples for Limpy) meant that Limpy was fed at roughly 4 hourly intervals with high protein feed mixed with eggs and multimilk (nothing goes to waste). The piglets, attracted to the milky feed, also supplemented their suckling with her feed much earlier than I had noticed any other piglets doing.
Limpy’s piglets are now weaned. They are still living together in their own paddock but will have to be separated very soon. They are the biggest and fastest growing piglets we have had yet in the Swanbridge Herd. They weigh the same as Limpy now.
She could not have managed without support but what a brilliant mother she has been; and continues to be. Limpy’s little story deserved to be told.