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Top 10 things you'll need to raise pigs.

If you're interested in adding pigs to your farm or homestead, there many are things you'll need to consider. Here are the top 10 things to consider before you pick up your first feeder pigs:

  1. Adequate space: Pigs require space to move around and play. If not, pigs will tend to fight with each other and will result in cuts to their tails and ears. Pigs are clean animals and when given enough space they will separate their sleeping area and restroom area.

  2. Fencing: Sturdy fencing such as hog panels, electric fencing, or a combination. Once pigs learn electric fencing, they will respect it. So, if you are considering doing rotational pasture make sure that there are gates that are not electric so that they will have an area they will cross.

  3. Shelter: Pigs need shelter from the elements. A simple shelter can be made from wood and tin. Make sure the shelter is large enough to accommodate all the pigs you plan to raise comfortably. You do not want pigs to pile on top of each other. It needs to be a space where they can get out of the elements and stay dry and warm. Consider adding straw or other bedding material to keep them comfortable.

  4. Bedding materials: Pigs need bedding material to keep them comfortable and warm. Consider adding straw or other natural materials to their living area. You can use a heavy bedding method if you winter over your pigs. Start with 18 inches of bedding and then continue adding to through the winter months.

  5. Feed: Pigs require a balanced diet to stay healthy. You can feed them commercial pig feed or create your own feed mix. Creating your own feed mix will require a grinder and mineral supplements and it is recommended to have your mix tested to make sure you are reaching the right quantities of needed protein and minerals. Make sure to always provide fresh water. Simple bowls for feed can be made from plastic barrels. You can feed pigs scraps but think of scraps more as a treat rather than their main feed source.

  6. Wallow/Play: In warmer weather pigs will need a wallow space. Pigs do not sweat and use the wallow to both cool off and as sunscreen. A wallow is simply a spot you will keep watered so that they can mud bath.

  7. Medical Considerations care: Wound spray, dewormer, is a good base start for your pig medicine cabinet and until you get into year-round care or breeding you should not need much more.

    1. Veterinary Care: Much of the time just raising feeder pigs through summer you will not need much contact with a veterinarian. Pigs are sensitive but with the right balance of feed/nutrition, shelter, and proper care they stay healthy. Though regulations have currently changed for antibiotics and other basic first aid needs it is always nice to know a vet in your area that would help if something does go wrong. Make sure to have an emergency plan in place in case a pig gets sick or injured.

  8. Time and commitment: Raising pigs requires time and commitment. You'll need to be prepared to feed them, clean their living area, and provide them with plenty of attention and care. They are social herd animals.

  9. Handling: There are times you will need to work with your pigs to move them. Unloading them to your farm and loading them once they are ready for the butcher. If you plan to rotate them on pastures or if you have a pig that needs to be separated due to illness or injury. Boards for loading and moving, as well as cane or walking stick to direct them are helpful once they are too big to catch and carry or wheelbarrow. Extra-large dog crates for moving younger piglets and livestock or horse trailer for moving larger pigs.

  10. Community: Raising pigs can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. Consider joining a local farming community/guild or online forum to connect with other pig owners and get advice and support.

Books/Reference Materials: Dirt Hogs, Story’s Guide to Raising Pigs, Happy Pigs Taste Better

By having these top 10 things in place, you'll be well on your way to raising happy and healthy pigs.

One more note: Consider setting up butcher dates sooner rather than later as many local butchers work with fairs and hunting seasons. Their schedules can fill up fast and you don’t want to be left with a pig that you cannot get into a butcher. Your best source is to ask the farmer you purchased feeder pigs from how many months before they hit the ideal butcher weight and go from there.


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