Making Hay
Week of March 7th, 2004 | The weather was cold and rainy.

New baby pigs!

New baby pigs!

Hello to all! We now have a new computer, a Windows XP. I am busy with getting all of the programs installed and running. The computer should be more efficient than our old one. We were having operational problems with the five-year-old previous setup.

Over the past years, Dad has made many farm improvements in how we do chores. Lately we improved the way we farrow pigs in the barns.

We feed our sows in our farrowing barns twice a day. They are moved inside of their sow huts when they are done. They get one and one half hours to eat and drink at each meal. This solves many problems.

What goes in, comes out! We clean the farrowing barns every day. With the sows staying in their sow hut, the barn pen stays clean. They will not go bathroom inside the hut. After the sows are done eating, we clean the barn pen out. While we clean, we can listen and watch the sows lay down in their nest. This is a good time to watch out for little pigs so the sows do not lie on them. Baby pigs should stay in their own nest for at least 10 days. They should only get their own mother's milk - not from a different sow. After about 10 days, they learn who their mother is and stay in that nest during feeding time. When piglets are born, it takes about 24-48 hours for them to locate their own nipple on the mother sow. After they located it, the baby piglet always uses that nipple.

The flooring of each sow hut (nest) is cement. Then, we put about 2.5 pounds of barn limestone per square foot. Barn limestone is just like the lime on a baseball field. It is a barrier from harmful bacteria and viruses. I usually help Dad spread this limestone. It gets really dusty! We spread after the nest is cleaned (when a new sow takes the nest over to farrow in it). Then, on top of the limestone, we have straw bedding. This makes a really comfy, warm nest for the sow. Our pigs are healthier this winter than they have been in the past and we think that the changes here are making a difference.

On Saturday, I went with three other New Hampton FFA Members and our Advisor to the Northeast Iowa District FFA Convention. Here, I competed in the Public Speaking Event. I talked about why organic foods are safer to grow and eat than chemical foods. Even though I only received a Bronze and cannot participate at State competition, I am still planning on attending the Iowa State FFA Convention in April with the other members. I look forward to viewing the many displays and meeting with other FFA groups from across the state.

Farm Fact: Dad uses livestock marking crayons to write the hut number that each sow farrowed in on her side. This way we know the hut and we are sure that the right sow is in the right hut.

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