We recently purchased two pigs. Tanner is raising one as a 4H project (learning the entire process of raising swine from piglet to butchering weight). The other is being raised and processed to fill our freezer with homegrown pork.
This is the second time we have raised pigs on the homestead and each time is a learning experience (as is anything we do…). Here are some things that we are doing better the second time around.
Fence. Before you purchase your pigs (or any other homestead animal), be sure to have a secure pen to put them in. We tend to put the cart before the horse around here, so often animals come to the homestead before we have proper fencing. This can make things very stressful when you are trying to put something together at the last minute or when you create temporary pens that can’t properly contain your animals. This year we are keeping our pigs in what was formerly a lot surrounded by an electric fence; we are replacing the electric fencing which was destroyed by falling trees during a storm with five board fence lined with woven wire. Pig enclosures don’t have to be huge but I have found that if they are a little bigger then pigs don’t turn them to mud as quickly and they tend to be less pungent.
Housing. Last year we housed our pigs in a calf hutch which worked pretty well. The only downside was that the pigs leaned against the hutch making it a little misshaped. This year we are housing them in our old goat shed which has an open front allowing them to access their run as they please. It is way more then they need but it was open and keeps them out of the sun, wind, and rain.
Water. This is probably one of the biggest improvements we made. Last year the pigs drank from a water tub that had to be cleaned and filled constantly because the pigs were using it as a bath. This year I was able to get a 55-gallon plastic drum that I attached water nipples to creating an automatic pig waterer. I only have to fill it up about once a week and the pigs always have access to clean water. The pigs figured out how to use the nipples within minutes (and have earn learned how to “run” the water out to create a wallow beside the waterer).
Feed. Another upgrade which has drastically reduced the chore load with the pigs is an automatic pig feeder. I purchased a Farmstead single door hog feeder which holds a bag of pig feed and keeps it clean and dry. The pigs have constant access to feed and I only have to fill the feeder everyone so often.
I think pigs have so much personality and spunk and I love having them on the homestead. Having proper fencing and shelter and purchasing an automatic waterer and feeder has made caring for pigs less demanding and, in turn, even more enjoyable.
We are looking forward to watching them grow!