Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Build a Mulefoot Pig House

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: Mulefoot, pigs, do-it-yourself, buildings, recycling, farms,

Last Saturday was one of those days when I woke up knowing exactly what I was going to do. I had been mulling pig shelter designs for the past couple of weeks … this mulling usually takes place around 2:07 a.m. when the dogs join the local coyote chorus and wake me up. What I decided on was a low, floorless shed that would be relatively easy to move around and that could be stuffed with straw for our little Mulefoot pigs to make into whatever kind of bed they desired.

Building A Pig Hut

During one of those sleepless early morning sessions, I mentally inventoried all the used lumber accumulated and left behind by the farm’s former owner. My initial reaction to all the wood was negative … the stacks are messy, and I loathed the idea of removing them from the barn and burning them. But that particular sleepless morning, I realized that we had everything in the barn that I would need to build the pig palace … everything except the roofing, that is. But as luck would have it, the sagging metal-roofed shed that the insurance company made me push in (it was a liability hazard, don’t you know) was still in a heap inside its limestone wall foundation, and most of the 12-foot tin roofing panels were relatively intact.

Think It Will Work?

In a nutshell, this pig house began with a topless shipping crate turned upside down. I cut away part of the front framing to make room for the opening and clad it with some exterior-grade plywood I found … it was painted green on one side, so I installed it green side out. I screwed three purlin-like affairs to the bottom of the crate (roof side) to support and provide purchase for the metal roof. After careful consideration, I decided that 6-foot-long pieces of roofing would be ideal. I used this as an excuse to purchase my first power sheet-metal snips. They only had an el-cheapo version at Tractor Supply, so try as I might to add another Milwaukee tool to my chest, I paid less than $50 for a more or less disposable version. It worked just fine though, and who knows how many times I will really need to cut a lot of sheet metal.

I think It Will Work.

Kate gave me a hand with this project, and she was invaluable as an extra set of hands, photographer, general morale booster and moving contractor. Since I haven’t had the Kubota loader tractor out of the shed for a while, it is kind of buried … lazy old me didn’t want to un-bury it to move the completed pig house to the pig paddock. So with Kate’s help again, we tipped the entire house onto a little foldable garden cart called the Fold-A-Cart and even though the house’s weight caused the cart's tires to compress to almost flat, we rolled the shelter into place in no time.

Making It Cozy

After stuffing the house with straw and placing the pigs’ dog-crate inside, the growing Mulefoot hogs began to investigate. By the time the temperature had dipped below freezing, they were nestled, four-abreast, inside the dog crate, inside their new house, with the straw all neatly arranged.

Mulefoot Pig Palace

Who ever heard of building a palace for $49.99 and a couple of boxes of fasteners? In time, we plan to freshen up the green paint and paint the roof with Rustoleum … Kate

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

hank will_1
3/10/2009 7:17:16 AM

hey allranchy -- Thanks for the kind words. I am thrilled to know you will be adding pigs. As a long term cattle guy, I never even considered hogs until I read more about some of the heirloom breeds. I have to say that they are delightful, comical even. And they don't smell like cattle, but it doesn't bother me. Good luck!

3/9/2009 8:04:04 PM

I think red is a great color!!!!! We are getting to get pigs for the spring and summer and I too have been thinking about how to build a pig shelter. Thanks for the awesome insight!

hank will_2
11/18/2008 5:01:12 PM

Thanks for the comment, Kim. I wish I had a good supply of those crates. I expect some day we will have a few more pigs ... and we plan to pasture them so semi-mobile huts would be useful. I don't think I have ever seen an African Spurred Tortoise before. But I am heading off on a Google search as soon as I post this. Looks like I am outnumbered on the green/red paint scheme, eh?

kim g
11/18/2008 3:18:39 PM

Great idea. I get those crates free from a ceramic tile shop and use them for huts for my African Spurred tortoises (sulcata). I like green building and red roof :-) Kim

hank will_2
11/18/2008 9:47:59 AM

Thanks for the pneumonia tip and the kind words Darlynn.

11/18/2008 8:22:21 AM

VERY nice pig house. Little bigger with a floor and I could live there. Like ours only shorter which is better in a cold climate...but frozen ground is cold no matter how much straw or hay is there and pigs are susceptible to pneumonias...some which move fast enough to kill within little over 24 hours of onset...something to think about even if you've vaccinated against them.

hank will_1
11/18/2008 8:19:53 AM

What would we do without duct tape? I could imagine a red hog house with a green or silver/gray roof and white trim ...

cindy murphy
11/17/2008 1:26:59 PM

Yes, a duct-tape grey roof; that'd be my husband's choice too, I bet. If it's not held together with duct tape, it might as well be the color of duct tape. I'm just kidding, (sort of). If the red/green combo is too Christmasy for the other eleven months out of the year, why not break it up a bit by adding a third color into the scheme. Paint the headboard thingy a nice cream color; maybe add some cream-colored molding to complete the look. Of course, as my husband would say, that's creating more work, though he'd be kidding as he said it....(sort of).

hank will_2
11/17/2008 1:08:35 PM

Hey Cindy -- It is fun turning waste into something useful ... if not beautiful. I pretty much always defer to Kate on color schemes. However, I can hear her musing that the pig house looks too much like Christmas, with red and green. I mentioned that to her and she reminded me that lots of red barns have green roofs. I immediately replied "yes, that's right hon" and changed the subject. If it was entirely up to me, I would keep the green siding and paint the roof silver or light gray. But, then, it isn't entirely up to me, so I say go with a red roof :)

cindy murphy
11/17/2008 9:38:25 AM

Ah, another heap o'scraps put to good use. From Steve's crate-turned-into-well-cover, Lacy's Chicken Palace, my garden junque, and now a pig house, it looks like the Grit Community is doing their part to keep trash out of landfills. Recycling is not only good for the environment - it turns trash into cool, and in this case, useful stuff. Go with Kate's color scheme - wives generally have a better sense of decorating, inside or out....of course, I'm only speaking from my own experience.