Treating sick pigs on the farm, and one pig gets a name.

One of the downsides to buying feeder pigs is that we always seem to get some that are sick. They aren’t sick when we buy them, but within a few days of arrival some of them always seem to develop something.

So of course after last weekends pig wrangling we ended up with a pig that was coughing. Coughing, just like in humans, can be a sign of a sniffle coming on, or it can by full fledged pneumonia setting in.

Red Duroc feeder pig
Coughing pig, but everything is still ok.

So I noticed that this pig had a bit of a cough. I pointed him out to Miguel and said lets keep an eye on him. Within a few days this was what we had.

Sick pig in a food crate
Rosco the pig, on death’s door and on the way to the vet.

A temperature of 106, difficulty breathing, pretty much passed out all the time but pooping and peeing at least so the internals are still working. This picture was taken in our barn bathroom where we keep a heather to keep the pipes from freezing. Miguel had made up this box in the warm for this little pig but the next day he still looked about to die so I hauled him off to the vet to have them take a look. Based on how the pig looked, I knew he was a goner, but now 5 other pigs were coughing so we had to find out what the problem was. Pigs are like kids in daycare. When one gets it, they all seem to share it around. The vet checked this little pig into the hospital and actually Heather put him in her office on a leather ottoman so I couldn’t ask for them to be nicer to the pig, which was nice because I was sure he was done for. The vet said he’d treat him and call me the next day to let me know how he was doing and also to tell me what was wrong with him.

The next day my phone rang and I saw the vets number. My heart sank because I knew that he’d be telling me that my little pig was dead but at least I’d find out what was going on and hopefully be able to save the other sick pigs. The vet sounded a bit down so that doubled my knowledge that the pig had died but much to my surprise, he said the pig was doing great and had made lots of friends at the hospital. Happy and surprised I told him I’d be down that afternoon to pick him up.

That afternoon I arrived to find this.

Pig buried in shavings
Playing in the shavings, Roscoe the pig.

They had named the pig Roscoe and in only one day he really had made lots of friends. He was eating watermelon, spinach, and fruit. The vet had gone to the grocery store to buy him fresh produce to eat which I thought was especially nice since produce is what he eats normally on our farm. Basically, the vet had prepared some home cooking for him. Nice touch. Roscoe was burying himself in the shavings and coming up to everybody who entered the stall and allowing them to pet him. It was hard to remember that he will be a 300 pound hog at some point because folks, he was seriously cute playing in the stable.

I needed to transport Roscoe back to the house. He still had a touch of pneumonia so I knew I couldn’t take him in the back of an open truck. I could however take him in the Avalanche because the back is closed. But since he was feeling so good I couldn’t just place him in a crate because he’d jump out. Here was my high-tech solution.

Pig inside two produce crates
Roscoe, ready for transport.

Roscoe didn’t fight or flee. He squealed just a bit when I picked him up but quickly settled down as soon as I placed him in the crate. A single bungee cord held the contraption together and Roscoe was ready for his ride home.

Pig in a crate
Roscoe, ready to be chauffeured home.

When I got home, I cleaned up the stall where Benjamin had stayed before, our normal hospital stall. The setup for a 2500 pound bull and a 35 pound pig is slightly different (insert sarcasm). Roscoe got fresh water, fresh fruit (I peeled his bananas, I’m a sucker) and a heat lamp to help stay warm. Today we will wrangle up the other coughing pigs, place them in the barn with Roscoe, ear tag them, give them some antibiotics to get them over this pneumonia. A few days in the barn and they should be right as rain.

I sure am glad that Roscoe lived.

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

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