Keeping Backyard 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).
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.
$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.
For Caleb, life wouldn’t be the same without a dog or two around the home.
Integrating Chickens, Dogs and Cats
Introducing the pets to the chickens has been a little more challenging than originally anticipated.
Historic livestock and draft animals, Poitou donkeys are endangered but being revived by Texas ranchers Christopher Jones and Patrick Archer