Raising pigs can be a great project for a family
Before you bring your pigs home, you will want to have the supplies you need to take care of them – just like you would if you were bringing home a puppy or a hamster.
If you plan to buy feeder pigs from a neighbor or other supplier, your pigs will probably be between two and three months old and weigh between 40 and 50 pounds when you bring them home. They will have already been weaned and will be eating dry feed – you just need to design a simple management plan. All they need is fresh feed, fresh water and a clean space to keep growing.
Pig feeders and waterers
A self-feeder is a good option because pigs do best when they can eat on demand. Small, frequent meals keep pigs feeling satisfied and comfortable. Self feeders often have lids the pigs can operate; the lids help keep feed fresh between meals.
Along those same lines, an automatic nipple waterer attached to a continuous water supply is a good choice. This will ensure a steady water flow to the pigs as needed with minimal risk of wasting water.
You will save time in the long run if you securely attach feeders and waterers to the walls or flooring in your pigs’ pen. Pigs are curious and enjoy activity; they are likely to turn small buckets or loose feeders into toys.
If you choose to raise pigs, you can be certain of one thing: you will have pig manure. A 200-pound finishing pig creates about 9.8 pounds of manure per day.1
(Remember, if you’re raising feeder pigs, you will be caring for them from 40 pounds to about 250 pounds.) To avoid a mess, decide ahead of time what you will do with your pigs’ waste, including manure, feed and bedding.
Municipal waste programs typically prohibit animal waste. Spreading pig manure in a vegetable garden or field could be dangerous because the raw waste could contain E. Coli or other microbes that could cause illness in humans.
One option is to compost
the waste the same way you would with chicken or other livestock manure. If you don’t have the space for composting, a neighbor or commercial composter might be willing to take the pig manure and soiled bedding off your hands.
Clean the pen and replace bedding at least once a week to help keep your pigs comfortable, minimize odors and manage disease risk. Wood shavings, straw or other similar absorbent materials can make good bedding for pigs. Choose a type of bedding that will work in your manure management plan.
You will need a shovel and/or pitchfork to clean your pig pen, as well as space for storing or composting manure. You might want a wheelbarrow to move manure from the pen to the compost pile.
Move over, bacon!
Unlike other farm animals or pets, pigs don’t do well with leashes or collars. Instead, pig owners use other tools to guide pigs when moving them from one place to another.
Sorting boards are common tools for guiding pigs. The boards are usually made of wood or heavy plastic and have handles at the top for easy use. They work like portable fences – holding the board steadily in front of a pig’s face will encourage him to turn left or right. Holding the board parallel to the pig’s path and moving next to him will encourage him to walk forward – or at least discourage him to turn in the direction of the board.
Rattle paddles are another tool to move or guide your pig. Gently tapping or shaking the paddle, which sounds like a rattle, encourages your pig to turn away from the noise. Sorting boards and rattle paddles can be found local farm and ranch retailers. Be sure to keep these tools clean and avoid sharing them with other pig owners to reduce the risk of spreading diseases between pigs.
Pigs can learn to respond if you put your hands near their faces to guide them, moving or clapping your hands to direct the pigs. This works best if you work with your pigs daily so they are comfortable around you. Pigs are social animals and fast learners.
You have many choices when it comes to pig feed. Think about what is important to you and look for it in the feed you choose. Do you need a convenient feeding option? Do you want the best value? You can meet these goals and more with the right pig feed. Complete feeds with quality ingredients can provide a balanced diet for your pig at any life stage.
1 "How Much Fertilizer Do Your Animals Produce." University of Wisconsin- Extension, 1994. Accessed 22 Mar. 2017.