Dawn Camp @Camp Skipping Pig
1776 Torrey Hill Rd
Java Center, NY 14082
On June 7th, 2009 Gretchen and I picked up five unsocialized potbellied boars from a bad situation. She's been concerned about them for a couple of years, offered help and suggestions to make improvements with no results, and things needed to change. The SPCA had been called a couple of times but things weren't improving. Their winter quarters were a dirty, windowless corner pen about 5' x 8'. This was for all five pigs, a couple of which, though thin, are large. The boys had a rough winter and are thin. They spent much of their time mounting each other and fighting, tusks had grown into their faces (but had recently been trimmed), and feet were overgrown. Their water source was a stagnant green puddle in a small pool. Their outdoor space was also very small with poor fencing which allowed them to escape and have contact with two unspayed females. Needless to say, the girls are now very pregnant and appear to be due within a couple of weeks. These boys are leftover, unsold piglets from a litter born about 5-6 years ago. They have large tusks and are difficult to handle. On Tuesday the 9th we took them to the clinic for castration. The largest boar is about 180 pounds and gave us a very difficult time, almost escaping from the trailer, jumping up on the crates holding three of his companions, and proving once again why some people shouldn't own pet pigs and certainly shouldn't be breeding them. It took SIX of us to get him into the clinic and mask him down. Despite wanting to avoid it, we ended up having to give him a light dose (1/3) of the injectable drugs because he wasn't going under with just the ISO, he was much too stressed and someone was going to get hurt. We are talking about a very wild, unsocialized, angry and frightened pig that outweighed every one of us. Almost an entire bottle of ISO was used on him alone, but his surgery went well and the trip back to the trailer with the sleeping pig was much less eventful. Pig number two was also large and a handful, but all went smoothly once we got him sedated. The three smaller boars fit in my large crates, so getting them into the clinic was much easier. We shuffled them out of the trailer before the first two boys were fully awake. Getting them out of the crates required "dumping" them out. Gretchen thought she'd try to reach in and pull them out, was almost bitten and the "dumping" method seemed a safer option. But dumping them out meant we couldn't get a hold on them until they were clear of their crates. They were one at a time deposited in a corner by a counter, hemmed in with pig boards, held by the legs, flipped and masked down. It doesn't sound too difficult, but these boys all have 4" tusks, can jump, and, except for the smallest, weigh about 100 pounds and up. Two had their front legs hooked on the counter top and were pulling things down before any of us could get a good controlling grip. They were frightened and mad, and it's a wonder no one was bitten. All five surgeries went quickly and well and four of the boys were acting very "boarish" the next day, pretty much uneffected by their ordeal. Within three days the boarish behavior was almost completely eliminated...they were no longer expending a great amount of energy mounting each other and squabbling was reduced by 90%. The fifth pig, and smallest of the group was having a very difficult recovery. He was not eating and was very depressed. He was put on pain medication (Tramadol), an antibiotic (SMZ-TMP) and Tagament to help his stomach. He wasn't running a temperature, walked normally but slowly and his color was good. There was no drainage or swelling at the incision. After consulting twice with the vets, there didn't seem to be much more we could do except give him peace and quiet, time and comfort as much as possible. He was sipping some water and had been offered countless things to eat, all in vain. At this point I didn't care what he ate as long as it was something. I'd tried pig pellets, sweet feed, cat food, potatoes, baby carrots, yogurt, toast with butter, banana, apple, peaches, fresh grass, milk replacer, Pedialite, spaghetti with sauce (he tasted it), creamed corn (tasted it), ginger snaps, hay, hay pellets, Milk Plus pellets, honey and real maple syrup. Nothing appealed to him. He produced a couple of normal bowel movements and I'd seen him urinate twice since Tuesday, so I was comfortable that his "plumbing" worked though his urine was quite concentrated. Until I was able to fence it off, he preferred to sip from a mud puddle rather than from a bowl of fresh water. Saturday evening I changed the blanket in his house and found a normal BM. He also urinated while he was out but refused any water or food. On Sunday AM my little patient looked at me as I fed his brothers and the other pigs out front. He was facing the back of his house and didn't offer to get up, but watched me as I looked in on him. I decided to leave him 'til last because everyone else was screaming to be fed, he didn't care about food and it takes a while to doctor him. When I returned with his prepared meds about 45 minutes later he'd turned himself around and was facing out of his house and I was at first relieved that I wouldn't have to make him get up or have to crawl in with him to give him his pills. Sadly, he had died while I was doing the other pigs. After trying so hard to save him it's truly heartbreaking to lose him. On Sunday AM Gretchen and I planned to pick up the two pregnant females. On the way we dropped our little guy off at the clinic to have a necropsy done. Dr. Carl called late morning and said the problem was that a section of his intestine had herniated and that was the cause of death. We realized that we could lose one of them, but after things went so smoothly at the clinic we thought all would do well. This little pig suffered terribly for something that could have been done routinely while he was a baby with little pain. Owners must take responsibility for the pigs they produce to avoid this needless suffering! Had these guys been neutered as babies none of this misery would be necessary. This sad little pig did not survive the weekend despite my best efforts to save him. He'd been a sweet little patient, not once snapping as I administered his meds and injections. Once recovered he would have made someone a wonderful little pet pig, if we'd made it that far.
Picking up the girls was uneventful and they loaded easily. Both are quite fat but one is especially large and we suspect she'll deliver before the end on the month. Both should be due about the same time. One is about 13 years and the other about 5-6. Both have had prior litters. If left at their current home there is no clean, safe, confined place for the babies to be born. The females have access to a pond where the piglets could drown. They can get thru the fences where they may be stomped by a llama or stepped on by one of the horses. There is no fence to prevent them from getting into the road and there's no protection from predators. When old enough and socialized, after spaying and neutering, the babies will be available thru this website and Hog Heaven's.
Photos of this group of rescues are posted below.
Right now our priority is to get the boys socialized and the girls safely thru their deliveries. It will be necessary to add more outdoor pens and housing to accommodate them. We're hoping to find at least foster homes for the boys once they've settled down and healed. Had the SPCA taken them, they'd have been destroyed because they're considered unadoptable. We're hoping to give them a chance at a better life than they've known. However, our barn is already overflowing and my concern is what we'll do for the winter. The rescue organizations are inundated and not taking any more pigs and this group puts me way over my limit. There simply is no more room at the "inn". The females will be returned to their owner if she gets her property up to standard and is able to get the remainder of her animals back in good health. The llamas haven't been shorn or had their spiraling feet trimmed for two years, a six year old stallion needs to be gelded and trained. He bites and strikes, is unmanageable and cannot be led or handled safely. Fencing needs to be improved. The barn needs to be cleaned and repaired. The remaining animals need medical care. Gretchen and I have taken on the responsibility for these pigs to help the owner get her situation under control and be better able to care for what animals she has left. However, neither of us currently has space or housing for them when winter arrives and their addition to our groups will be stressful for us financially. We're hoping by then to have found foster homes, adopted the babies to loving and responsible homes, and to have successfully returned the two females to an improved environment at their original home. The reality is that we may not be successful in any of these goals and might find ourselves struggling to accommodate these 6 adults and their offspring. Doing the right thing is often very difficult.
Camp Skipping Pig would be very grateful for any surplus/used building materials such as lumber (4' long or longer), pressure treated lumber, insulation, plywood and the like. Also needed are 6' metal "T" posts, cattle panels, and pipe gates for us to enlarge our pastures to accommodate these unexpected rescues. Sturdy plastic pools are always welcome. They make a great nursery for piglets and of course a place for the pigs to cool off all summer. We are not set up as a 501-c non-profit and are unable to give a receipt for donations that could be used for tax purposes, however, the good Karma that results from helping these unfortunate pigs goes much farther than a nominal tax deduction and would be more appreciated than we can express.
NO NAME PROVIDED
LARGE BLACK BOAR...CAMERA SHY !
BLUE EYED "FRANKIE"
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Dawn Camp @Camp Skipping Pig
1776 Torrey Hill Rd
Java Center, NY 14082