For years and years a friend of mine, a retired cattle farmer, has been telling me to get pigs. He claims they're easy and cheap to raise to market weight. Sooo I'm ready to take the plunge .( this coming Spring)
My neighbor is letting me use a patch of his land right next to my house. 30 ft away. It's rocky and water logged, has lots of pricker bushes,and an oak tree. It also has a dry area and is on a slope. I told him pigs will totally destroy the land they live on, but he doesn't care. It will grow back. I'm so excited to find this forum!!! My husband is not thrilled about getting pigs. He wants nothing to do with them. However, he loves me very much and has agreed to take me to a pig farm and help me get piglets. Best husband in the world! I was raised in the country, he was not. lol
I've never done any kind of farming before. I did raise chickens for a short while but the hawks and foxes enjoyed them more than I did. I learn a lot the hard way. I would love to try chickens again but there are just too many chicken killers around here.
I'm going to get a solarfence to keep pigs in and foxes out. Anyone here have any feedback on what kind? Also how big of a pen should I fence in? I'm thinking 2-3 pigs. Also can they be trained to follow me around the yard and then go back into their pen or is that a bad idea? I've been watching you tube videos and reading, but I'm confused. I want to raise them for the meat, not as pets. but I think they would be happier if they could forage a bigger area and clean up fallen peaches and such. I'm hoping they will be like vacuums and clean out gardens before spring planting.
Hi Chadwick,thanks for the reply.
My husband will be building a lean to type of shelter.
By woven fence, you mean a wire hog panel right? I thought about that, I heard "from you tube" you don't need it if you have the solar electric one. Unless you know different. I've never tried one and like I said I never tried pigs before. Did your pigs turn into pets? lol . I admit it might be tempting to keep them, but I'm going to raise Tamworth. I've heard they are gentle and make great meat. I see they are not very cute as hogs so I doubt I will want to keep the after market weight.
I'm not a real farmer. I'm doing this as an experiment and to teach my grand kids how things are done. Food doesn't come off a super market shelf type of thing. I've already taught them about compost and veggies, baking bread, etc. And also on a selfish level, I want them to remember me after I'm gone with crazy grandma stories.
That's great that you are including the grandkids! I am sure the stories will be epic!
Might try the electric netting if you want to go straight to electric for cost, they will learn to respect it, piglets will fit through normal straight wire fencing until they grow, so the electric netting is good for smaller animals, might try to start with grounding it weakly till they learn to stay away from it, small piglets are small and if you buy a strong charger they might get popped to hard. Won't kill them just not a strength that's needed for that small of a hog.
I would do woven fence which is like goat and sheep fence, then the electric because my aim is to shock the coyote not my stock, just my own thought on husbandry that's all, your results may vary.
I would recommend a minimum of 2.5 joules. Pigs, like all animals, need to be trained to electric fencing. It is a psychological barrier, not a physical barrier. Train within a physically fenced area such as with hog panel that has the electric inside of that similar to what you'll use out in the field.
My husband set up an awesome portable fence system using a fencer powered by a car batter attached to an old farm truck, he then attached a solar panel to the truck to keep the battery charged and loaded a water tank in the back of the truck for portable watering. Worked great especially having a lot of land.
I'm a novice too with only about 6/7 months experience.
We trained our pigs to the wire from the day they arrived. There's 3 strands of wire to stop our dogs jumping in, not for the piglets
After about 3 days they've never pushed the wire except perhaps when they've been jostling for food and caught their tail on it. I've moved them across our drive just by tying white tape between the two gates. During the snow (20-30cm) there was no power to the fence and it hasn't been an issue. I use a battery powered energiser and it works fine on dogs, pigs and humans - plenty of punch - but you do need to keep the grass/weeds down under the fence line (but the pigs will soon clear that for you. I plan on getting a mains energiser so I can fence some paddocks on the common land that joins our boundary - the mains energiser can cope with weeds/brush against it much better.
After wire training I let them out into a bigger area about 5m x 20m and they were very happy. Of course I was feeding them twice a day plus treats/scraps etc. But the full field size was 20m x 25m.
For shelter I built them a 2m x 1.5m house from scrap timber. They still fit in quite easily/happily and nest together in a deep bed of straw - in the depths of winter (-13C) it was blinkin' roasting inside with the 4 of them.
I think we may have been lucky with handling/training not least with the electric fence but also we can hand feed them fruit/veg etc. they always come when called (not by name, we just shout "pig pig pig") and will follow the feed bucket provided its got something in it. I really enjoy spending time with them as they are fascinating, very intelligent, very gentle if sitting with them or I fall over in their pen and I can watch them playing for hours - when we had the snow they were really very entertaining. But I don't have any qualms that they are food critters - we will put two in the freezer this year and breed the two gentlest girls so we have piglets for meat / barter / sale next spring.
There are waaaaay lots of experts with terrific experience and generous advice in this forum but hope my little input helps your decision making - and GOOD LUCK!
Thanks everyone for the replies and helpful info.
Sorry it took so long for my response. Computer issues. I'm better at out door stuff than technology.
I've decided to go with the solar fence. The area for the pigs is across my shared driveway, so a plug in one is out of the question. Also I like the idea of moving them from area to area. The potable solar fence seems to be my best option...I hope.
Now to locate some piglets. I responded to an ad on craigs list. I was hoping for females but it seems only males are available. I guess it doesn't make much difference, or does it? I have no desire to breed them, so I guess it doesn't lol
Here's to "epic crazy grandma stories"
Males and females can both be aggressive. Sows with a litter are perhaps the most aggressive of all. Caution. Remember that pigs are very strong and have sharp teeth, hooves and will eat meat, including you, your children, pets, each other, etc. Aggression runs in lines. Taming does help. Always remember that the #1 thing on a pig's mind is food. Unless it's thinking about sex.
@Walter J.: "#1 thing on a pig's mind is food. Unless it's thinking about sex."
I think you're projecting (minimally Western) human traits onto those pigs, Walter. For Sus, first is food, second is sleep, and only when "in heat", sex. And truthfully, humans are the only ones I know that can do all three at once!
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”― Albert Einstein
it's been a little over a month now, and the piglets have moved to the pasture.
it's a bit sad walking past their training pen every morning/ They grow up so fast (sigh)
They love their new home but like to sleep under brush instead of the beautiful pig palace we built. Oh well lol
They respect the electric fence and now the FOXES do too.
One got zapped a few nights ago and let off that blood curdling scream for about half and hour. serves them right I say!
Now that I have them in the pasture... How do I get them to eat grass? I was feeding them hand picked weeds and grasses every day all day in their pen, but now that they are on a whole lot of it they don't eat it. They are working very hard tilling up the place but i never see them grazing. Today I put chicken broth in a spray bottle and sprayed a few areas, they went crazy over the smell and sniffed where I sprayed but didn't eat it I'm thinking of maybe honey? can piglets eat honey? I don't have molasses.
Also. confession time... I spoiled them by cooking their food. I make a pot of hog pellets, cooked cracked corn, oatmeal, eggs and whatever else we have outdated in the house. and I put in a few pan dripping from what ever meat I cook too. Except pork! They've doubled in size since we got them. So they're eating good. I also put a splash of applecider vinegar in the pot too.
I started feeding them 2 hours later than they are used too, but they cry for food when they see me! such sad little piggies.
I'm so glad I purchased tamworths. I know come market weight they will be ugly and scary looking, but right now they are so cute and friendly.
Do you know their favorite treat? Because when they get out, it's important to know what you can use to convince them to return to where you want them. My pig she loves French Bread. I also have a little on hand. She has found so many ways to get out.
$500-$600 dollars ? CHA- Ching!!!
lol I don't think they are that much around here. Maybe if they had special papers.
What does YMMV mean? why envy? just a guess.
My pigs don't have a special treat yet. But I've come up with a plan should they ever escape. Every time I feed them I ring a cow bell. So now every time I ring the bell they come running
So I put honey in the spray bottle I had chicken broth in and sprayed the grass... My piggies are eating grass now!!!
It took a few tries and attracted honey bees, but it worked. Chicken flavored honey grass. I told my husband about it and how I am the smartest man alive "billy Madison quote" He said he saw them eating grass the other day. Well maybe it was the grass I sprayed and maybe it wasn't lol In my head, I'm a genius
The important thing is they eat grass. So I'm very happy
Hi Laura; I raise 3 piggys a year. one for us and the other two for friends. This year and last I charged them $480 a pig. That pays for all the weiners , 3000# feed, 50# diatomaceous earth, my fuel to go get feed, my fuel to deliver piggys to the butcher. Everybody including me pays for their own butchering.
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It's a life experience that I'm really after.
I'd love to make some money, but it's like a wild crazy hobby that you get to eat in the end and enjoy with family.
On a side story... I got 12 chicks at TSC I want to do the feed the eggs to the pigs thing. Turns out I got 10 roosters for the freezer
so I got 6 more chicks from a sweet teenage boy going into the chicken selling business. I love when teenagers show enthusiasm for being a business owner.
Well his prices were high but I figure he needs my money more than a chain store. 3 of these pricey chicks combs are looking pretty rosy.
So I'm hoping third times the charm. I just received 16 "female" chicks from cackle hatchery.
So far so good on the predators. (knock on wood) I heard somewhere on the youtube, that hawks are afraid of pool noodles. I think they are. We set up our trampoline and it has the safety cage that looks like pool noodles with mesh. Maybe it looks like a gigantic claw from the sky. lol But for whatever the real reason is, we haven't had any attacks yet.
I've been locking them up every night a dusk.
Our adult children think were going through midlife crises or that we've gone crazy, I tell them we're not crazy we're homesteaders. Besides the grand kids and the kids I babysit love it.
It's been a while since posting and the pigs are getting pretty big. Not quite 200lbs yet.
I've been feeding them fermented pig food from a milling company. It's 16% protein. I add a couple apples in each batch
I make. they love it.
I think I'm over feeding them. My Husband says that's how they gain weight. I'm feeding about 10 gallons of "slop" a day. 5 in the morning 5 at night. Plus treats of acorns, black walnuts and a bit of kitchen scraps and raw eggs from the chickens every once in a while.
They never seem hungry between meals and just sleep most of day. Is that normal? They used to run around and play before I upped their rations from 5 gallons a day to 10 gallons.
Now they mosey around doing very little rooting. Lazy things. lol
How many acorns, apples and walnuts should I be giving them to flavor the pork? This year has not been a good year for acorns or hickory nuts around here. Lots and Lots of walnuts though. I'm hoping it's like just a few a day should help with the flavoring. Like you don't need the whole bottle of hot sauce to flavor the meal, right? Well I'm hoping lol.
Also good news I found a butcher to do the deed. He is a friend of my Husbands and though he has never done a pig before, he has done 100's of deer. He has all the equipment and will package meat in a "seal a meal" type vacuum sealer. in exchange for the smallest pig. Which is not small at all. He has been studying the internet and reading a butchering book. I will not be home and neither will my Husband. We're not totally attached to the pigs, but we do care them. I know I'm giving them a good life and they will only have one bad day, but I don't want to be here.
thanks for letting me ramble,
Sunday is the big day!
I'm excited and sad at the same time. It's funny how many people laughed when I told them my plan to raise pigs. I was told they would stink, be dangerous, escape, etc. None of those things came true.
They never even tried to escape, they don't stink, they are super friendly, Their size make them dangerous, not their demeanor.
We sold the extra pig for $2.00 a pound live weight. She's 250lbs, according to the string measuring. That covers the cost of a new upright freezer. I can't believe our old freezer just died last week. UGH! well better it did when it did, and not after we filled it with pork.
I was hoping to recoup some of my up front costs but it is what it is.
It's funny how my Hubby, who wanted nothing to do with the pigs, has turned Sunday's event into a guy BBQ. He changed the plans of not being here, to a man party. lol
Aside from his coworker who is doing the deed, another of his coworkers, and the coworkers wives are coming. Not to mention neighbors. One of the people coming is originally from the Philippines, and claims they know how to use every last bit of the pig. Another is originally from Italy, and says the organs are better than the meat. I'm SO very happy that nothing is going to waste. I will of course be hiding under my bed. lol
I've already decided to do this again next year. Why not? everything is already set up and paid for. I will be getting a cheaper breed though, and make better use of my gardens for free feed. My daughter, the one that called me nuts, is interested in going in on a pig with her friends when I do it again. She is also purchasing $50.00 worth of pork this time.
We raise Kunekunes, which are a smaller, slower growing pig originally from Nerw Zealand. They have evolved to be the perfect grazer. Their stubby upturned snouts make them better adapted to grazing while also minimizing the tendencies to root. Generally the will nose out a shallow well and figure out a way to dump their water into it to create a wallow when it's hot out, but beyond that they are the least destructive to pasture of any pig. They marble extremely well on pasture, making them the perfect homestead swine IMO. They are probably the easiest of any breed on fences, pasture, as well as not being the least bit aggressive with people. Quite the contrary, they crave human interaction and belly rubs. Yes they are cute, and our hairy little pigs are also quite personal, but in the end - they're tasty, tasty bacon, and ribs, and hams and sausage, and souse, and scrapple, and...
Another great thing about the Kunekunes is that they stay relatively small. Ours are predominantly a meat herd so they're selected for size, but a large full grown sow might hit 250 lbs., and a really large mature boar about 300. Typically they're harvested at 9-12 months of age, which with ours is about 150- lbs. live. They are also ridiculously easy to work, lead, load and train. You can also fall asleep under a tree in the pasture and not have to worry about waking up to a herd of pigs trying to eat your face. They ain't Craig's List feeder pigs, and require some investment, but they more than make up for it with their easy care and amazing pork. Just don't screw them up the way many do, by trying to fatten them faster with commercial feeds, corn and soy garbage. We feed ours pasture and barley fodder 'til the grasses are all dormant, then add more fodder and supplement through the winter with organic hay and some organic supplements (kelp, D.E, bentonite, spirulina, and charcoal) sprinkled on the fodder biscuits. The supplements are used by the tablespoon, so their cost is negligible, and the average adult gets about 8 lbs. of fodder each day. That amount of fodder requires about 1-1/4 lb. of dry barley to produce, so even using organic grain the cost is less than GMO laden commercial pig chow. It's also about 40% more digestible than the dry grains, so the pigs actually access more of the nutritive value that you're buying. To further manage our costs we produce our own algae and charcoal.
Our pigs are also known as "Head Pigs" and "Lard Pigs". Research cooking with lard because just as duck eggs are the absolute bomb for baking, lard is everything that Crisco was trying to be, plus it's infinitely healthier. The back fat and trimmings from our pigs make fabulously moisturizing soap, but the leaf lard from next to the liver is the absolute best for cooking. Coupled with raw milk butter and grass fed beef tallow, I can't think of any other fats you'll ever need, and none of it is hydrolized.
Think about sourcing non-lead bullets before the kill if you're planning on the brain shot. Also take a look at exactly where to place it. Never liked the idea of contaminating some of the best meat on the pig with a spray of gasified lead, but that's just me. Also, using a large pot to boil water and then soak towels in the boiling water and drape over the pig to loosen the hair for scarping is actually pretty simple if you don't have a scald tank available. You can skin the pig, but leaving the skin on produces a better finished product. The old Vol. One I think it was, Foxfire book had a good section on hog killin' as well. Many hands make the work light, but planning and good preparation also helps. Lots of small and medium knives and someone to keep sharpening them is a huge help.
Pigs provide so many culinary possibilities it's really hard to choose one over the other, but the Polynesian buried pig wrapped in banana leaves is epic. Spoiled Americans that we are we can get anything from Amazon, and that includes whole banana leaves in Ames, Iowa. Another good first timer route is slow cook the whole hog in a covered cooker above ground. Done as a whole you eat what ya want and vac bag the rest for folks to take home and freeze.
Recipe-wise fresh, uncured ham steaks are a favorite of mine, along with jowl meat bacon, and jalapeno/cheddar/salami. The possibilities are endless.
"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."
- George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
Well Sunday's event sure wasn't for the faint of heart. I handled it well. I stayed inside until it was butchering time.
I heard they didn't feel a thing and Both had clean shots. The last pig seems lonely though
It started at 9 am and didn't finish until after 10 pm. I helped with the packing, and IF I ever do this again I will send it to a professional butcher. I have a freezer full of roast, chops, ribs etc. and a refrigerator full of pork belly, hams, sausage making scraps, and skin.
All in all I got the life experience I was hoping for
I'm also in OCNY. Just processed 2 feeder Berkshires at home. First time for both. Just wanted to point out that if you raise them again and you're going to have someone else process them, you'll want to make sure you have that appointment far in advance. Ask me why I processed at home )
I agree with Dave , State/county fairs happen in Mid - late summer and the good butchers are booked weeks or months in advance. I had to wait until after hunting season ended one year (December instead of August ) because i forgot to book in advance. I had hanging weights that year of #275-310 ! way to fat ! Now I book in early June for an august visit date to the piggy's buddy the butcher.
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