You Should Raise Pigs
By Gavin Dinnel
What a great response to our last post about our pigs arriving on the farm! I had a lot of questions about how we take care of our pigs here at Dinner Time Farm and so I’m going to tell you all about it! There are many different and great ways to raise pigs, but this is how we do it!
Take the time to sketch out where you want the pigs to be. There are things you want to think about ahead of time. Where is their water and feed going to be? How am I going to contain them? And here’s one that doesn’t get thought of until it’s too late: how am I going to load them to take them to the processor — or where is my slaughterer going to be able to get to these pigs? To be honest, that last one wasn’t one we thought about until our mobile slaughterer showed up ready to take them in. Luckily, our gate was positioned in a place where they could back right up to it.
Now that you’ve sketched out where you want the pigs, and where your gate(s) will be positioned, you can start to think about how to contain them. We use a physical barrier (fence) and a psychological barrier (electric). This gives us peace of mind and also some symmetry, as our other pasture uses the same woven wire fence but no electric. We use woven wire fence typically used for goats. It’s 48 inches high and looks really good. We just used T posts to attach it to. On the inside we ran two levels of polytape. When the pigs are full grown the lower line will be right about their chest and the upper will be right at their head. We have a double ground rod system and a plug-in fence charger. The pigs learn that the polytape is not something to be touched very quickly.
Food and water are up next. This is one that can be easily overlooked as well. Pigs love to push things around, and if you are trying to water out of a tub, they’ll have it turned over in no time. We like to use pickle barrels and convert them into a water station. It’s pretty simple! Find your barrel; get something that is food-grade and didn’t have chemicals in it. Pickle barrels are perfect since they had vinegar and cucumbers in them. We bought 1/2-inch water-tight electric conduit hubs at our local hardware store and after drilling a hole into the barrel we connected those two pieces together. Doing this makes it really easy to attach the water nipple. Just a little Teflon tape and screw it in nice and tight and you are done! We love the tap adapter style nipples as the water will flow a little better. We use the double lid hog feeders. Each one holds around 150 pounds of food. I really recommend this style as it can be hung up a little bit and holds plenty of food so you don’t have to feed them every day. We free feed our pigs up until butchering day.
And the last piece of the puzzle is shelter. Pigs really don’t need much, just a space to stay dry and that is free of drafts. We built a simple shelter with some pallets, t posts, cattle panels and a tarp. We also hang our feeders in here so the food stays dry as well.
And there you have it! It really isn’t that hard at all and if you have a little space I hope that this inspires you to raise your own pork this year. You can have fresh pork that you raised yourself in your freezer in as little as 4 months!
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