Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday afternoon, the first of the pregnant sows, Rosebud, welcomed eight tiny piglets into the world! An event that lasted about 2 ½ hours, this emotional first birth culminated in the safe delivery of a breech baby who was born at 6 p.m. One of the smallest piglets in the litter was too weak to nurse on his own. He was bottle- fed vital colostrum from his mother and then taken to a veterinary hospital for postnatal care. Meanwhile, caregivers here kept vigil by Rosebud’s side, watching over her fragile babies who – due to all their mother had been through – are premature and require our constant attention.

As we cared for Rosebud and doted on her little ones, another pregnant sow, Mango, was settling into a birthing hut out in the pasture, and at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, she too gave birth to eight beautiful girls and boys! One of Mango’s babies was also smaller and weaker than the rest of her litter and was taken to the hospital to join Rosebud’s baby yesterday afternoon. Happily, these two remain stable, but will stay in intensive care until it is safer to bring them back home.

Today, all of the other 14 piglets are nursing steadily and gaining strength, taking their first adventurous steps, resting close to their siblings for comfort and warmth, and being lulled to sleep by their mothers’ soothing chatter. No longer imprisoned by the bars of a factory farm gestation crate and denied the chance to nurture and protect their babies, Rosebud and Mango are extremely affectionate and visibly thrilled with the new piglets –all of whom they now lovingly care for in the ways that they freely choose.

With 16 new babies in our care and many more pregnant sows about to give birth, our work in the Emergency Rescue & Rehabilitation Center nursery has only just begun. Already, caregivers are stationed next to the mothers 24 hours a day so we can respond immediately to any complications that may arise. Though our population and responsibilities grow so do the joys of seeing these pigs thrive. As we embark on this whole new journey in our efforts to give a second chance to the flood survivors, join us in celebrating the births and watch the slideshow below!