You may have heard of Farrowing but what does it actually mean?
Well it seems really obvious when you realise the Old English Noun ‘farrow’ is defined as ‘a litter of pigs’. So although we tend to refer to a family group of piglets as a ‘litter’ the original term was a ‘farrow’.
The act of giving birth to a litter/farrow of pigs is farrowing.
A Sow will Farrow twice a year in most cases, this is natural and not forced. The gestation period of a pig is amusingly 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days or thereabouts.
The Sow knows when she is about to farrow. It is in her instinct to build a nest of whatever natural material she can find. In our woodland we have seen them pick up sticks, leaves, grass and obviously straw from their arks and build a large round nest, just like a birds nest.
At the Old English Pig Company we allow all of our pigs to LIVE LIFE & RUN FREE and this includes farrowing.
We have a Farrowing woodland with a specially built Farrowing building in it. If you can imagine a maternity wing in Center Parcs, that’s pretty much it but for pigs. It’s during this time that we assume responsibility as the ‘pigwife’.
The art of pigwifery (we made that up by the way) is not unlike midwifery. We show the Sow to her room, which is a 12′ x 12′ straw lined wooden building (like a bigger pig ark). She is allowed to build her nest, stroll around, lie down, whatever she wants to do. She has fresh water available and we are on standby in case we are needed.
We do not intervene unless there is an issue and only to save and preserve the life of both Sow and Farrow.
The act of Farrowing is an amazing natural act, one that should be allowed to remain as natural and free as possible, without restriction or containment. The Sow and Farrow should be allowed to bond, just like a mother and her baby. At the Old English Pig Company this is high on our list of priorities.
We will not go into detail about the commercial Factory farming methods of farrowing other than to say we believe it must stop.
If you want to compare our free range farrowing to commercial factories then take a look at http://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/pigs/welfare-issues/