A young Co Longford pig farmer has told of his shock at seeing a “lockdown notion” of rearing pigs turn into the bumper arrival of 20 new piglets to a first time mother.
Twenty-year-old Ronan Bleakley said he was still coming to terms with the unprecedented arrival after deciding to snap up his first two pigs during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
“I bought them on May 1 during lockdown as a sort of lockdown notion to see what it was like and to see if money was to be made out of them,” said the son of Geraldine and Ronnie Bleakley from Moyne in north Longford.
The newborns were delivered between 5am and 8am on Thursday morning, weighing around 1kg each.
And, in a further twist to what is fast becoming one of the feel-good stories of Longford’s gradual reopening from Covid-19, Ronan’s second sow delivered a further 14 piglets during the early hours of Saturday morning.
“Last night (Sunday) was the first time I got a good night’s sleep and I needed it badly let me tell you,” he said on Monday.
“I didn’t think it would get as much (publicity ) as it has.”
A keen footballer with his native Dromard, Ronan said his interest in branching into the piggery business only came about as a result of the country’s ongoing difficulties in tackling Covid-19.
“I bought them on May 1 during lockdown as a sort of lockdown notion to see what it was like and to see if money was to be made out of them,” he said.
“I was never in a piggery before and even though I’m doing Agricultural Science in Galway and we don’t even study pigs in that.”
Ronan spoke of how almost every second of his spare time over the past week has been spent tendering to what has arguably become one of the biggest ever arrivals of pigs to be recorded in the area.
“When they started farrowing (last Thursday) and the litter of the runt came which was the eleventh I presumed it was the last and I would have been happy enough with that but they just kept on coming and my hands were full,” he said.
“The other sow had 14 on Saturday morning at 2am and I now have 34. I’m telling you, it’s busy times.”
That said, Ronan expressed his relief that no casualties had so far resulted from the massive delivery before expressing his own desire to focus on pig farming as a full time career path.
“We are beef farmers and have lots of space and we bought a farrowing unit in Carrigallen two weeks ago and that has heating pads, feeding systems and water so they (piglets) are happy as Larry,” he said.
“I’m off to a good start and the pigs are doing very well. At the moment, things are looking good and I would like to expand and keep it going.
“The first 72 hours is the most important as that’s when a few of the litter can be lost, but I’m lucky I haven’t lost any.”