The runt of the litter

As so often happens with litters of piglets, both Tia and Scrumpy have a runt each. Fergie, Tia’s little ‘un, has been a stereotypical runt since the day she was born, always struggling, never keeping up and (B and Jennie, close your eyes) a bit… well, not quite as smart as the others. Tia’s piglets are 3 weeks older than Scrumpy’s, but today Fergie is the same size as Scrumpy’s. I expect that by next week, Scrumpy’s will have overtaken her.

Apart from Bubble, Scrumpy’s runt.

Bubble is weeny, much more so than Fergie was. Fergles was small all over, but Bubble is short and skinny and could be the poster piglet for some animal welfare campaign. But her character and sense of self outweigh her appearance by far more than her actual weight! She was one of the first to head outside exploring, has bags and bags of energy and is usually the first to get up in the morning when she hears me coming. (Fergie is always, always last, and sometimes isn’t even aware that I’m there, even if I bang on the ark. Then she runs off in the wrong direction.)

And, most unusually for a runt, she is the most possessive of their food and frequently barges the others out of the way so that she can get to “her” grape or “her” slice of banana. Runts are usually at the bottom of the pecking order, and tend to come off worse in the fight for survival against their siblings. Piglets choose a teat early on in their lives and stick to it and the initial fight over each teat tends to see the strongest and healthiest piglets get the best teats with the most milk, while the runts end up with smallest teats that produce the least milk, which contributes to their small size. Scrumpy has 12 teats and 4 piglets, so that was never a real problem and I suspect this is one of the reasons why Bubble has so much get up and go in comparison to Fergie. But even so, there’s no way the runt should be so dominant when it comes to food. Hungry, yes, but not bossy.

Still, I’m not complaining, if only because her behaviour lets me know that she’s ok and that I don’t need to worry about her.

So, in the spirit of loving our runts, I thought you might enjoy these photos of Fergie and Bubble and their food…

Fergie tucks into an apple - 25  September 2008

Fergie tucks into an apple - 25 September 2008

Bubble gets tired of waiting for me to serve up breakfast - 1 October 2008

Bubble gets tired of waiting for me to serve up breakfast - 1 October 2008

As you can see, Fergie is quite delicate and reserved whereas Bubble just dives in head first. Which does not bode well for the future. If you think Tia’s lot are a handful, what will Bubble be like?!


One response to this post.

  1. If Scrumpy’s piglets are going to be feistier than Tia’s (even Fergie was quite happy to slide through the fence with her siblings) then I’m starting to make little harnesses and leashes for them now, in preparation for the days when I’m pigsitting.

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