Grit Blogs > Modern Roots

Keeping Backyard Pigs

 pigs 

Pork, it’s what’s for dinner. Bacon, sausage, chops, loin, ribs…what isn’t good about pork? I know, the price tag. Therefore, I have decided to grow our own, yet healthier.

I chose to do two Yorkshire pigs this year; two because I want meat for an entire year, and also because they are companion animals. I catch myself wanting to add a couple more but we’ll see. I chose this breed because they are natural foragers. I am allowing my pigs to ‘free-range’ about 1.5 acres. I want them to have area to really dig up roots and forage for their own food. Yorkshire’s are white pink and will sunburn easily without shade. We put the fencing about 15 feet into a wooded area so they have plenty of shade in the heat of the summer. I am also making a wallow mud pit for them to coat themselves in. Pigs aren't really dirty creatures, they are smart- they cover themselves in mud to prevent their skin from burning. I am not wintering my pigs and will butcher them in the fall when they are about 250-275lbs each.

What to do about fencing your hogs.

Pigs love to get their snouts under fencing. They will lift it up and will escape once they do. The best type of fencing for pigs is electrical. It took me awhile to finally make a fencing decision, but after seeing how strong these animals are and curious, electrical was the choice for us. Simply, they respect it. They need to touch it once and will not again. After all, they are one of the smartest animals there are. I like the idea of electrical also for predators. If something tries to get my pigs, I hope they get a good jolt while trying. We decided to use electrical ½” polytape wrapped around the fencing posts three times. Initially we thought the solar charged battery would work great. But we switched out the solar one for a battery powered unit. The solar one was not as strong and the pigs got out with that one. We didn’t want to chance them getting out again. We used plastic push rods for the fencing (easily removable and easy to install). It's also important to point out, you need a three way shelter for pigs. We made this baby chick pallet pen to house my baby chicks in. Now that they are all grown, we have re-purposed it into a pen for the pigs by laying it on it's side. Threw some pine shavings in it and they love it (first picture).

 polytape energizer  battery 

What to feed them

I have subdivided my 1.5 acres into three lots that I can pasture rotate them in. Once they dig up the ground and naturally fertilize it, I rake in legumes such as alfalfa and clover. Just like a feed lot for deer. I run one polytape line straight across separating the lot for them so they can eat that pasture and move on to another the following week. I also give them slop from the kitchen (which they love) and also a supplement of protein feed without corn. I grow lots of stuff in my garden, they get all the leftovers. I also plant mangles (large beets), turnips, and parsnips for them to munch on. They are supposed to make them taste amazing. Overall they are pretty inexpensive once you get the fencing out of the way.
                                                  feed and water buckets 

Pricing

$70 apiece for a 50lb pig =$140
$20 apiece for one role of polytape, need 2 = 40
$82 for the electrical transmitter box unit
$60 for a battery to connect to the unit
$17 apiece for round rubber 2’ feed/water dish = $34
$1.89 apiece step-in fence post needed 75 = 141.75
Total= $497.75 Usable for many years.

Starting a homestead or interested in it? Check out my journey at modernroots.org and 'like' on facebook for recipes and updates on my process at facebook.com/modernroots.org !!!