I was told it should take no more than 3 hours...start to finish, but after 15 exhausting hours Olivia was finally finished. It shouldn't have surprised me that she had so many, but it did. She's a young pig and not fully mature in size yet. 14 piglets (1 stillborn) is too many for her. I am up supplementing 3 of the weaker babies with goats milk every hour and a half. I'm not going to lie, getting up with a baby was a whole lot easier when I was younger!! My vet says that goat's milk will cause diarrhea and possibly kill them, but I have no other choice...they will die for sure without it. I have read a lot and goat's milk is the preferred choice and many people have had success with it. I am saying my prayers with every feeding.
I was ready for cute, but what I wasn't ready for was the noise. Piglets are very loud!! They are also very active. It sure didn't take long for them to steal my heart. It's been so busy that I haven't named them all yet, or even figured out how many are boys/girls. When they are awake it is like you stepped on an ant hill and it's so hard to keep track of who is who. I have, however, pinpointed the piglet who I think is going to cause me to tear my hair out many times over the next 15-20 years. We named him Taz.
Mama is doing fine, she is a great mom and is very protective of her new family. Because she is one of our recent rescues, she was still a little cautious of people before she gave birth and that has only magnified with the arrival of the babies. We are able to handle the babies, but we have to be aware of her mood at every moment. She will charge and she will bite.
These next few months are going to be long and difficult. Olivia came from neglect...no proper shelter, no food, no clean water, male and females breeding at will with no plan for the unwanted piglets. I am so glad that we found her when we did. She was being given away with a (yet) undiscovered 14 babies in her tummy. Because she was allowed to breed at will, her babies were born when the thermometer outside read -30C. These babies would not have survived. If she had been given away there is a good chance that the people who took her would not have been set up to care for 13 piglets, nor would they have probably been willing to. We had no way to separate Olivia from the other pigs and still have her in a proper winter shelter, so she is inside the house with us. This situation is far from ideal and creates many problems of it's own, but at least the babies are warm. It's not easy to transition animals from inside to outside in the middle of winter, so they may have to be in the house until spring. If this is the case, it puts our life on hold. I have a plywood 4x8 box where my kitchen table belongs. I have 2 farm style gates in my house to separate Olivia from Leland (another pig who needed to be in the house for the winter) and I have 13 piglets who will get a lot bigger and much more destructive and time consuming over the next few weeks/months. Sometimes it is hard to think about the lady we rescued these pigs from. So irresponsible, so unaware and unconcerned with what she has created and what somebody else's life is like because of her actions.
Shelters get requests daily from people "needing" us to take their pigs. All with the same story, it exceeded it's ridiculous "tea cup" weight by 6 months, it's wrecking my house, no time, it's urine smells bad, it's aggressive. There is just no place in the world for these animals, yet people like this lady and the many, many others like her out there (breeders for profit included) who just don't care and keep letting them breed. People involved in rescue are the ones who pick up their pieces, and it's getting harder and harder to find people who will help.
Please don't support this. Take to heart what you read here. Pigs are NOT easy pets. They aren't happy in the house and will eventually destroy it...which in turn will make you miserable as well...believe me. Pigs need other pigs and they need a lot of room to roam and root and do normal pig things. Pigs need proper food and proper insulated winter shelter with an outside heat source. We use plug in heaters for our shelters that have a display in the house letting us know what the temperature is (15-20C). Pigs need to be spayed/neutered to be a good pet. Pigs need to have their hooves trimmed regularly and males also need their tusks trimmed regularly. It is very difficult to find a vet who will deal with a Pot Bellied Pig beyond the basic care. If your pig gets sick, often you are left to watch it suffer and die because no one knows what do do for him. Pot Bellied Pigs on average grow to be 150-200 pounds...there is no such thing as a "teacup" pig, don't buy into the lie and be one of the people contacting an already maxed out rescue saying "I had no idea!!" Every rescue I know is maxed out with pigs and there are more and more and more coming to our doors every day. I can't count the number of 150 pound "teacup" pigs in shelters.
Only you can stop this, by doing your research and being honest about whether you are able or willing to care for a pig for 15-20 years. Don't ever buy from a breeder... even an "accidental" breeder. These people are irresponsible and will continue to breed as long as there are people taking their "product". If you are one of the (very) few people who know a pig is truly the companion for you, make sure you are set up to properly care for it for it's entire life... in a way that is right for the pig... not for you. Adopt from a rescue (if you are in Alberta, check out "Potbelly Pig Rehoming Network" on FB.) I can't stress enough that a happy pig makes a happy life. A bored, cooped up pig with no room or time to be a pig makes for a miserable life for all involved. Too many people have learned this the hard way and many pigs have suffered so much because of it. Please don't be that person.
*UPDATE* Unfortunately one of the smaller babies didn't make it. He passed away 3 hours short of 1 week. 14 piglets is just too much for a young pig and his little body wasn't developed enough to survive in this world. He fought hard for me, but was just too small. Rest in Peace Little Billy. You were loved much. <3*