Raising pigs isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it if your willing to give it a try. Pigs have a very important job & I always wonder why all farms don’t have pigs. They use the least amount of water and don’t let anything go to waste on a farm. We use our pigs as our tillers for our garden in the fall.
There are some things to consider, first is pigs will rut up everything… So you need to prepare for this.
Pigs need to be on pasture. No animal should be raised in a feed lot or confinement. Pigs need to be able to rut up a wallow to cool themselves off in the summer. They need shelters, access to clean water. I love seeing pigs run around.
We raise red wattles & berkshires. We are mostly red wattle though. Since we raise all our animals on pasture, we chose heritage breeds so that we have hardiness. Red wattles are also very gentle, on slow foods arc of taste and on the endangered heritage breed list. In my experience they also have larger healthier litters and grow a bit faster.
You can either make yourself crazy by bringing the pigs buckets full of water or you can buy a metal water nipple. You will need to attach this to a pvc or metal line that is attached to the fence. The pipe cannot go through there area or they will chew it. They will destroy everything in their area; be aware.
I suggest either electric fencing or hog panel and nothing else. Pigs will ruin every other kind of fence . We move our pigs all around to eat grass, clean up & till our summer garden. The sows that are expecting to give birth go in a pen with hog panel. Baby pigs do wander & it’s hard for mama pig to keep track of up to 14 piglets at once, so putting them in a pen keeps them safe until they can learn to mind electric fence. In the picture above we were trying to move a new litter into a pen, the Sow had her litter a little early before we could move her. Trust me, it’s easier to move them ahead of time. Luckily this sow was gentle and never hurt any of her babies in the move but some do.
Nothing goes to waste on a farm with pigs. The more diverse their diet, the better the pork will taste. Pigs love veggies & fruit from the garden. They love kitchen compost too. My pigs get so many yummy things they wouldn’t get otherwise, for example avocado nuts, leftover gourmet foods, cheese…….. It feels good having a pig around!
We have the luxury of having a jersey cow that we milk, any extra milk goes to the pigs. If you let it culture for a day or two before giving it to them, it becomes clabber, which is a great probiotic for them.
I highly recommend feeding your pigs non gmo organic grain. If your going through the trouble of raising your own food, you should make it the cleanest food you can.
We also give our pigs a teaspoon or two of diamatous earth every other week or so. You can put this on them externally as well if they get any fleas bothering them. D.E has lots of great minerals in addition to being a natural dewormer. We also give our pigs kelp meal from time to time. You can also plant root vegetables & pumpkins for your pigs to eat. The pumpkin seeds are a dewormer. The more food I can grow for them on the farm the better.
It doesn’t make sense to pay a boar’s way unless he is servicing adleast 2 sows. Also, beware that you could out of nowhere have way too many pigs. You will need a separate area for your sow right before she is due to have babies. I keep the sow with her piglets for as long as the sows body seems to be able to handle it. There is no rule because every situation is different. Honoring both the mother & the piglets are the way to decide.
Anything I didn’t cover?
The next blog post I write about pigs will be about purchasing a whole hog. Stay tuned!