Sow herd troubles - any advice would be really appreciated. Thank you!

Pumpkin&Spice

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Hi there! I was wondering whether anyone might have any advice about a situation I’ve run into with my herd of sow piggies... I’ll give a bit of background info first!

So a couple of weeks ago I adopted two young sows (6 and 4 months) who were already part of a group, to see whether they would bond with my four sows of different ages. Our first bonding session didn’t go so well due to fear aggression from one of the new pigs, but after trying a second time the following day, everything went much more smoothly and after several hours and calm and friendly behaviours, I popped them all back into their nice fresh, clean home. I’ve been watching them like a hawk since and everything had settled, so when I last cleaned them out I popped all of their toys back in and they’ve all seemed very happy... until last night.

They’ve been together for just over a week now and I don’t know whether something had happened, but my one pig, Floss, who was originally at the bottom of my herd of four, and has now moved up in her ranks, has become too scared to come down from their upstairs area to join the other piggies in eating their veg etc. When she sees the new pigs, she teeth chatters and then scarpers back upstairs. One of the new piggies teeth chatters back and it’s all a bit tense for a short moment. The new pigs haven’t figured upstairs out yet, which Floss seems to know.

At the beginning, Floss was really asserting her dominance over the new pigs and they were just seemingly submitting, so it seems strange that Floss is now behaving like this. I don’t think they’re bullying her, as they’re letting her eat and everything but it’s so not like her to not come down for her veg.

I’m at a bit of a loss with what to do and wondered if anyone had any advice? Do you think there’s hope for them and I should let them see it through? Or does it sound like they’re just not going to be happy together? It’s sooo strange because yesterday morning, Floss was downstairs happily eating with everyone as normal and I’ve had no reason to be concerned until now.

They have a big home of roughly 42sqft of space, so I like to think that space isn’t the issue!
Any advice would be very much appreciated. The whole thing is worrying me so much.

Thank you so so much!
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Siikibam

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It takes two weeks for the hierarchy to be established so it could perhaps be that. If you put her downstairs, what happens?
 

Pumpkin&Spice

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It takes two weeks for the hierarchy to be established so it could perhaps be that. If you put her downstairs, what happens?
Thank you so much for your reply. I really hope it is just that they’re establishing things.

When I put her down, she’ll eat the odd thing and then when she sees one of the new pigs she’ll quietly teeth chatter and take herself back upstairs. Before yesterday, she was just acting normally downstairs, chilling out and sitting with the other pigs as she always does. It’s so strange!
 

VickiA

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With a normal pairing it takes on average 2 weeks for the whole bonding process. With a larger group it can take longer. Each position has to be worked out from the top them moving down each place right down to the very bottom. Personally I would keep them all on one level and shut off upstairs until the bonding has finally been completed. Remember, upper levels do not count in space for piggies. How many square feet is the ground floor space?
 

Pumpkin&Spice

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With a normal pairing it takes on average 2 weeks for the whole bonding process. With a larger group it can take longer. Each position has to be worked out from the top them moving down each place right down to the very bottom. Personally I would keep them all on one level and shut off upstairs until the bonding has finally been completed. Remember, upper levels do not count in space for piggies. How many square feet is the ground floor space?
Thank you so much. I will do that. Their bottom floor is 25sqfoot.

I was thinking about popping them back where I bonded them on the bathroom floor, so they have the whole room for the day and sitting with them to see what happens. Do you think that could possibly help? Or would I be better leaving them where they are? Sorry for all of the questions. I really appreciate your responses!
 

Wiebke

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Hi there! I was wondering whether anyone might have any advice about a situation I’ve run into with my herd of sow piggies... I’ll give a bit of background info first!

So a couple of weeks ago I adopted two young sows (6 and 4 months) who were already part of a group, to see whether they would bond with my four sows of different ages. Our first bonding session didn’t go so well due to fear aggression from one of the new pigs, but after trying a second time the following day, everything went much more smoothly and after several hours and calm and friendly behaviours, I popped them all back into their nice fresh, clean home. I’ve been watching them like a hawk since and everything had settled, so when I last cleaned them out I popped all of their toys back in and they’ve all seemed very happy... until last night.

They’ve been together for just over a week now and I don’t know whether something had happened, but my one pig, Floss, who was originally at the bottom of my herd of four, and has now moved up in her ranks, has become too scared to come down from their upstairs area to join the other piggies in eating their veg etc. When she sees the new pigs, she teeth chatters and then scarpers back upstairs. One of the new piggies teeth chatters back and it’s all a bit tense for a short moment. The new pigs haven’t figured upstairs out yet, which Floss seems to know.

At the beginning, Floss was really asserting her dominance over the new pigs and they were just seemingly submitting, so it seems strange that Floss is now behaving like this. I don’t think they’re bullying her, as they’re letting her eat and everything but it’s so not like her to not come down for her veg.

I’m at a bit of a loss with what to do and wondered if anyone had any advice? Do you think there’s hope for them and I should let them see it through? Or does it sound like they’re just not going to be happy together? It’s sooo strange because yesterday morning, Floss was downstairs happily eating with everyone as normal and I’ve had no reason to be concerned until now.

They have a big home of roughly 42sqft of space, so I like to think that space isn’t the issue!
Any advice would be very much appreciated. The whole thing is worrying me so much.

Thank you so so much!
x
Hi!

It sounds like the two chattering sows have had a run-in and your older sow has come off the worse for it. Unfortunately, incidents like this mean that there is some serious grudge potential around that is bound to resurface again and again.

Personally I have found to better after my own experiences to cancel the bonding or two find an alternative solution for one of the sows for the peace of the whole group. It can happen that unresolved disagreements over the new hierarchy happen, as do personal dislikes. the problem with piggies is that once this happens, they won't change their mind on that aspect for pretty much the rest of their lives even if they will bow to the general group pressure - but this grudge will continue to fester.
Group bondings can fail several days into the dominance phase when the new hierarchy cannot be peacefully and consensually established. I've certainly had my share of those! :(
 

Pumpkin&Spice

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Hi!

It sounds like the two chattering sows have had a run-in and your older sow has come off the worse for it. Unfortunately, incidents like this mean that there is some serious grudge potential around that is bound to resurface again and again.

Personally I have found to better after my own experiences to cancel the bonding or two find an alternative solution for one of the sows for the peace of the whole group. It can happen that unresolved disagreements over the new hierarchy happen, as do personal dislikes. the problem with piggies is that once this happens, they won't change their mind on that aspect for pretty much the rest of their lives even if they will bow to the general group pressure - but this grudge will continue to fester.
Group bondings can fail several days into the dominance phase when the new hierarchy cannot be peacefully and consensually established. I've certainly had my share of those! :(
Thank you so much, @Wiebke. I think that’s kind of what I needed to know - whether it’s worth persisting or whether it’s just stressing them out being together. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do!

I think I’ll look into letting the two new piggies live next door so they can still interact with their new friends. Thank you!
 
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