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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping pigs
...Farrowing pigs
...Feeding pigs
...Pig breeds
...Pig Selection
...Weaning piglets

Traditionally there is always a runt in the litter in reality this is not always the case. Sometimes there are none and sometimes there are two.

They are quite recognisable: they are smaller and weaker than their bullying brothers and sisters and tend to get trampled in the rush to the milk bar. If the litter is small, say eight or under, there will not be too much competition for teats and the weak one will probably cope. In higher numbers, it may well be pushed off all the teats, with obvious results unless you intervene.

Runts will always grow a little more slowly than the others but we have always felt it was worth giving them a helping hand. They usually need encouragement to take milk from a bottle and sometimes the only way to get them started is to put a little milk into an empty syringe case (no needle) and very gently trickle it over the tongue. You must be very careful not to simply pour it down into its lungs or it will die but once it gets started on the idea it is off.

If you cannot really face the prospect of all the fiddling then why not offer it around? The most surprising people will be tempted. The only awful price you have to pay for your act of mercy is that when the time finally comes and Grunter or Porky or whatever else he has been called is destined for the freezer, you find the whole family in a state of collapse at the thought. Of course, you cannot keep an ex-runt for breeding as it is inferior stock. This is one of the times when you wish you had never gone into pigs in the first place.