The Newest Farm Additions: Bacon Seedlings (aka baby piglets)
As I was hoping last week I get to share pictures of the new piglets with you today. Last Saturday saw the arrival of the first wave of babies arriving on the farm. During the nice warm weather break our mama sow delivered her spring litter of piglets. When all was said and done she is successfully raising five babies. Every morning when I go to feed her the babies are becoming more active. She is such a good mother that they are fattening up daily. Pretty soon they will be wandering away from their mom’s watchful eye to explore the barn outside their stall. When they start to venture out we start putting a pan of their own food out so they don’t have to complete with mom. By the time they are four weeks old they will start to actually leave the barn to explore the great outdoors. When their six week birthday rolls around they are exploring farther and farther away from the barn. This is the time of their life when they are ready to wean from their mom. We now put them into their own portable shelter and mom goes back out to her forest pasture. After a month or so when her milk is dried up we put her babies back with her. They will stay together until the babies are big enough to butcher.
Winter is Back!
As we were expecting, winter has revisited us with a vengeance. The snow and wind started again last night giving us a new six inches of snow overnight. The snow is not expected to end until tonight with an accumulation of eight to ten inches.
Pipping Started This Morning!
“What in the world is pipping”? Well, I will attempt to explain it with words.
It all started four weeks ago. I put 150 fertilized duck eggs from our Khaki Campbell hens in our incubator. The eggs have spent this whole time in the incubator where conditions mimic the natural temperatures and conditions of a mama duck. Because Khaki Campbell ducks have been developed as an egg laying duck they have lost some natural instinct to hatch their own eggs so we do it for them. The hens supply the eggs; we supply the ideal hatching conditions.
Today is the due date for them to start hatching. For the last two days I have been peeking in to see if there are any signs of the hatch starting. This morning when I took a peek I could see that some of the eggs had little concave pecks in them. This is what pipping is! The tiny ducklings are equipped with a sharp little spear-like appendage on the top of their beaks. They use this to peck the eggshell from the inside all the way around basically cutting the top off the shell. They create a little hinge on the shell. When they have worked all around the shell they have to take a big stretch and push their way out of the rest of the shell. By this time they are played right out.
They will quietly lay there for quite a while to regain their strength. During this time their feathers dry off and they become cuddly little balls of fluff that make a lot of noise. Once the feathers are dry and fluffed they become very active. They will run around the incubator “terrorizing” (not really, but they don’t watch where they are running and will run across the other (lol) ducklings that are still hatching. It doesn’t hurt the ones that are still hatching; it is just funny to watch. It can take up to forty-eight hours to go through this process.
When the new hatchlings are about thirty hours old we transfer them to the brooding area where they are watered and fed and get to be under a nice warm heat lamp. They will stay here for about three weeks as they are growing and getting more down and guard feathers to keep them warm once they are allowed to be outside.
At about four weeks if the weather is warm enough they will be moved outside into a portable shelter. Here they are protected from the farm cats and other predators. Between six and eight weeks of age they are released to go live with the adult ducks which have been free-ranging. The older ducks will teach these juvenile ducks how to stay safe and to find food on their own.
We will be having a hatching weekly for the next six to eight weeks. We try to be finished by mid June. This gives the ducklings plenty of time to reach mature weights so they can be butchered in the fall.
Thanks for stopping by. We love sharing what is happening on the farm this time of year. There are so many new things to share with you. Come on back next week to hear about more new adventures!
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Remember that orders are now open for pastured pork, grass-fed beef and lamb. We invite you to have a look at our “Products Page” here, fill out an order form to reserve your meat packages to stock your freezer with all that healthy, convenient goodness, and then enjoy.