Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Morty and Izzy, week 6

I swear there are other animals at the sanctuary, not just Morty and Izzy, but I’m pretty sure it is expected by now that I’ll be posting an update on them every week that I am at the sanctuary.

I learned something interesting this weekend. Something I’m actually glad I didn’t know until now! Based on the somewhat scanty information that Terry and Dave were able to find online, they had seen in several places that piglets rejected by their moms had only a 50% survival rate. But they also found more information on one site that went into more detail. Piglets are normally 3-4 lbs at birth. If they are 1lb or less, their survival rate is 17%.

And Morty, the big one, was 1lb at birth. Izzy was half that. Oh, and I had thought that Morty had been given the chance to nurse once, for that incredibly important colostrum…but I was wrong. Neither of them had even a drop of it.

They’re pretty much miracle babies, and I have no doubt that the care Terry and Dave gave them is a huge part of why they have made it.

Not that they are out of the woods yet. For all we know, they could always be more delicate of health, though so far they actually seem pretty sturdy. Izzy had some times, especially in his first couple of weeks, when he didn’t do so hot, but it seems to have been an issue of nutrition, not susceptibility to infection.

Here’s a video of them from this weekend:

They’ve outgrown their playpen and are in a stall now in one of the chicken barns. You can hear one of the roosters crow – I think that’s Marcus. They’ll be in this stall for a few more weeks, and then when they get bigger they’ll be moved into the quarrantine stall in the pig barn. And eventually they’ll start spending time in the main pig yard. They’re really just too little right now. Big enough to get into trouble, small enough to wiggle through fences to find it!

Today is World Vegan Day, the beginning of World Vegan Month. If you needed a couple reasons to go or stay vegan, seems to me Morty and Izzy are about as perfect of reasons as you can get.


11 responses to “Morty and Izzy, week 6

  1. nothoney November 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    They’re so much bigger than when I last saw them! So, they don’t need Terry to feed them all night any longer? I worry about them out in the chicken barn – they’s wild critters out that way!

    I miss working with y’all and I miss the sanctuary. Mina gets a little weaker and has a little more trouble breathing every day. It’s so hard. She’s so brave and tries to be so tough.

    Thanks for the update and the video. They’re just beyond cute.


  2. Deb November 1, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    @nothoney – they’re in the red chicken barn, which I think is really safe for them, and they’re really close to the house. Night feedings are still going on, but it is actually easier for Terry to go out to the red barn than to clean up the playpen!

    Morty’s more than 20 lbs now – probably 25lbs, and that’s just at the bottom edge of the “normal” weight range for piglets at this age. Izzy has grown a ton too. He’s probably 15 lbs now, maybe a little less still, but he had grown noticeably since last week, and that’s significant because his growth hasn’t been as noticeable all along. Dave said that he eats 2 cups of food (as much as Morty) at every feeding. “His body is just a giant stomach”, as he put it, since 2 cups is pretty much his entire body size! lol.

    Sorry to hear about Mina. It sounds like her spirit is still hanging in there, but I’m sure your heart is breaking. *hugs*

  3. JimMassUSA November 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    This may be a stupid question, but here goes!

    Can you get mild from some other nursing female and give it to piglets to give them the “protections” they should have gotten from their own Mom?

    Just curious …


  4. JimMassUSA November 1, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    … dagnabbit …

    I, of course mean to say, “Can you get MILK”

    .. roaring case of typo-itis!

  5. Deb November 1, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    @Jim – theoretically it would work, and the vet did give them some bovine colostrum; wrong species, but it was thought that it would help some of the internal flora develop, which would aid in digestion and thus overall nutrition. But in terms of the logistics of it, since this is a sanctuary and not a working farm, there are rarely nursing mothers at the farm. The sort of “petting zoo” type farm that these two came from, the mother sow had 18 babies, 17 of whom survived the first day (2 of them are Morty and Izzy, who have been at the sanctuary since day 1; rejected by their mother), and she has only 12 working teats. So it seems to be rather complicated. I’m not sure a sow can be milked in that sense…though certainly milking her to save her own babies is about the only reason milking her could ever seem reasonable!

    Alas, it wasn’t done. Most of the information that we have is from Pot Belly Pig websites. The Pot Bellied pigs are pets, so a lot more effort and care is given to them in these situations than the typical farmer would. Babies like Morty and Izzy would have been left to die, and chalked up to “typical mortality rates”.

    Long answer to what seems to be a simple question! šŸ™‚

  6. JimMassUSA November 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm


    As they say on the quiz show, “Good answer!, Good answer!”

    If I was involved and left to my own devices, I’d probably get a human brest punp at a pharmacy and try to adapt it and then start driving to some farms and find a friendly farmer who’d let me pump a few sows!

    But how realistic that really is, I don’t know.

    I’ve milked cows but never tried with a pig!

    Anyway, it is a great story and you all are to be commended for caring so much and so well for the poor abandoned piglets! They must be really tough little guys to fight the good fight for life!

    What will happen to them when they grow up? Not become bacon and ham I hope!


  7. Deb November 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    @Jim – your idea might be doable – until someone tries it, we just don’t know! Something to keep in mind; if this situation arises again, you might get a call!;)

    I think they really are tough little guys. Izzy (the smaller one) especially. Even when he wasn’t doing so well around 7 days, he was fighting so hard, it was incredible to see. And he pulled through. Their will to live is … well, I’d say extraordinary, but I don’t think it really is. It is fierce, but I think that’s true of all of us; species doesn’t matter, just life.

    As for what will happen to them when they grow up, they are lucky enough to be at a sanctuary. They will live at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary their entire full natural lives. They’ll never be sold, exploited, killed for food, or any of that. They’ll just get to live out their entire lives, safe and protected. šŸ™‚

  8. kelly g. November 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I feel like you’re teasing us with these short clips, Deb! I could watch Morty and Izzy toss their beds, snort and mug for the camera for hours! šŸ˜‰

  9. Deb November 2, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    @kelly – this past weekend wasn’t very good for izzy and morty video’ing! But I’m also pretty clueless. Sometimes youtube seems to compress awfully, so I’ve been keeping the videos shorter. I haven’t tried to figure that kind of thing out. And I’m never sure what people would want to see. Minutes of Izzy rooting at his bed? lol. We’ll see. I’ll try to do a longer one next week!

  10. Marina November 4, 2009 at 10:55 am

    I’m with kelly g. on this one. šŸ™‚ I love watching them!!

  11. Deb November 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    @Marina – I will keep this in mind, and let the camera roll for longer this coming weekend! lol.

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