Proper care and feeding of piggies....

freemotion

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So, with all the interest in raising piggies, I thought this would be a good place to put all the information and advice. We have the processing thread (thanks, OFG!) so this is for the other end of the whole process.....baby pigs to big fat hogs.

I'll start with my questions on housing....

How old and how big will my pigs be when I buy them? What is the bare minimum they need for housing?

I just paced off the short end of my pasture that I plan to fence off for them. It is roughly 60' square-ish. It has 4' horse fencing, woven wire, on t-posts. I plan to add a low electric wire to keep them from digging or rubbing their way out of that, and to put t-posts with several strands of electric wire to keep them in the short.....and very far away from all houses....end of the pasture. It is surrounded by trees and will have a couple of mature trees in it, so it will have areas of shade throughout the entire day. Will this be sufficient for 2-3 pigs?

Will they damage a very mature oak and maple?

Is a tarp roof set in a dry corner sufficient for shelter? Or am I dreaming?

MUST they have a wallow? My land is all sand, probably ancient river bed, and drains at an amazing rate. No puddles hardly even in a very wet year. I could get an area wet for them, but it would not remain wet 24/7.

How long will it take, on average, to get them to slaughter weight? What time frame am I looking at?

Should I build a squeeze chute now for "doing the deed" on processing day? And maybe feed them in it from day one?

Whew, get typing, experts! :D
 

ohiofarmgirl

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here's what i know - and maybe we can cajole Bourbon Red to pitch in his $0.02....

i'll start off by recommending that you run right out and get Storey's Guide to Pigs.. its great. very no-nonsense and written by an old timer. i love how he tells you what to wear to the auction so you dont look like a dork. i love that guy. also best quote on how to run a farm: Pick it up. Put it away. Paint it.

for your questions:

How old and how big will my pigs be when I buy them?
*** about the size of a small-medium-ish sized dog, i think the ones we got this year were about 25-30 lbs.. but this was smaller than the ones we had before. BBH's is very small.


What is the bare minimum they need for housing?
*** for spring/summer pigs a three sided shelter is just fine. honestly they really just need something to get out of the rain/sun. i wacked together The Hog Hut with 3 almost the same sized pallets and hillbillied up a roof with stuff i had laying around. the thing to remember is that they are going to get big. i'd say at a minimum it needs to be 4ft high. dont try and put a dog kennel out there - they will demolish it.

fencing:
electric electric electric - and never turn it off. BR's pigs tested it every day, Brunty Farms (over on BYC) just got pigs and they got out the one time he turned it off. ours stayed in with 2 strands - just make sure they cant sneak under. since they lead with their noses they'll get a zap on their snouts. technically goats need a bigger jolt.

when they are very young you can just have field fencing but we couldnt believe how easily they got out with just a flip of their snouts.


It is roughly 60' square-ish. ...It is surrounded by trees and will have a couple of mature trees in it, so it will have areas of shade throughout the entire day. Will this be sufficient for 2-3 pigs?
**** should be fine. there is an intersection of 'too much room to run around burns off the pounds' and "keeping them too restricted.' our 4H kid neighbors raised 3 hogs on cement, in a building, that was only 10x10. they thought we were nuts, we thought they were nuts. our pigs ended about the same weights but we raised ours out an extra month.


Will they damage a very mature oak and maple?
nope. just dont feed them right up against the trees. they will rub on them tho. ours never ate the trees unless we threw branches in and they loved those.


Is a tarp roof set in a dry corner sufficient for shelter?
** i think this is what BR does. should be fine. you can always adjust later. when the weather gets cool you can build straw walls or - like i did - get pallets if you are concerned.

MUST they have a wallow?
*** ours always have one - but we have hideous clay. and every darn day i'd stomp down that dang hill and spray them stupid pigs to make sure they didnt get over hot. they love the mud and i'm pretty sure they'll create something. even if you wet down the sand they will probably roll around in it. remember they have a hard time cooling.

How long will it take, on average, to get them to slaughter weight? What time frame am I looking at?
** last summer we got ours in mid-end of june and slaughter the first week in dec. but mostly it was due to scheduling and waiting for cold weather (easier to cool the meat). we could have done it the week of thanksgiving or the week before.


Should I build a squeeze chute now for "doing the deed" on processing day?
*** i'll be interested to see what other say. i could see in theory how this would work, but if it wasnt a clean kill, i'm wondering if they would bust right out of there.. humm... anyway. here's what we did. The Big Man walked into the pen, threw some corn down on the ground, pig looked down at the corn. bang. never knew what hit 'em.. then Bourbon Red leapt, like a gazelle i might add, over the fence and cut the pig to bleed him out.

other recommendations:
* get one of those bigger black feeding tubs - that bendy rubbery stuff? for a waterer. but you'll probably go thru 2 sizes... they will need smaller pans when they are little and then bigger as they grow. they will drink a lot of water.
* they will choose one corner of their lot as their pig potty
* feed them as much as they will eat in 20 mins twice a day. plus snacks at mid day. hay is good feed for them too.
* i got fed up with the pig starter feed that costs $17 a bag!!! so BR gave me the low down: go and get ONE bag of calf manna and buy regular hog grower feed. put a scoop of calf manna in the hog grower and wowza - it totally works! our hog grower is about $7 a bag - so we saved a ton of money. ..it was totally worth the $25 for the calf manna.
* we fed them goat milk and COOKED (hard boiled) eggs every day. they grew like weeds. about midway thru the summer we took them off the grower and fed them corn corn corn and more corn. we supplemented with eggs and milk and whatever veggies and fruits we had. and remember that our friends have an orchard/cider press so we got all the pulp from them. we mixed this with corn and reconstituted it... works great.
* the pigs we got this year were pretty small compared to what we'd had. so we actually started ours up near the house - the theory is that if a coyote or whatever grabbed one we could hear it. and it was safer up close to the house with the dogs on patrol. but once the pigs get big enough they can fed for themselves and ward off almost any attacker. except maybe a tiger. or a chupacabra. or me if they blew snot all over me one more time.

hows that for lots of advice?
:)
ps as BR said to me.. well i cant tell you EXACTLY what he said b/c the man swears like a drunken sailor.... dont over think it - just go and get yer pigs. you'll do great!!
;-)
 

Quail_Antwerp

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Can I just jump in here and say I'm totally jealous?!

We were supposed to get two just weaned piggies this month, but it didn't work out.

So, I'm still waiting for dem pigs.

:hit

So, I'm hoping while we's waiting, I can get a patch fixed up fer a pair of pigs.

I can get pallets, easy peasy...so ofg, I need pics of the Hog Hut. Piggie Please? :D
 

ohiofarmgirl

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hey QA! sorry about the wait for pigs...i'll have to wait to pry The Big Liar.. i mean, The Big Man off the computer with the pix to show the hog hut. i've also seen where you can make a simple a-frame... lemme see if i can find that.

here's another resource - Brunty Farms (Jeff from over on BYC) just got some feeders and this was his thread.. from the meat bird section!... on pigs. all good advice. except.. you do NOT need to scald the pigs when you dress them. i think this scares a lot of folks off.. but no worries, just grab a knife and skin them. here is his thread:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=280448

:)
 

murphysranch

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Been pondering this for a few days. Told DH about it, and of course...he said its easier to have you buy the pork at the grocery store. :tongue

But I'm BORED, DH. I need something to do, to research the heck of of, to think about, plan, put on paper (previously on my white board), to dream about, and to finally carry out.

Today the cabinet maker came by with the crown for our kitchen cabs. He mentioned that when we was growing up, they raised chickens, pigs, and goats here for food. He still raises a couple of pigs every other year or so. WOW! A source of information! I picked his brain for 30 min.

Questions for you experts: where do you buy a pig? He says go to the local auction, and buy one there. Oh sure. Do they take Visa or Discover? Will I look like a doofus not knowing what I'm doing? (yes, Barbara). How do you buy a piggie at auction? What can I expect to pay? Do I take him or her home that day? Oh, do I want a him or a her?

So many questions....so little knowledge...:barnie
 

big brown horse

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Try craigslist. I see them on there once in a while.

Apparently it is piggy season, b/c one just showed up on my doorstep last week. :p
 

murphysranch

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Yes, I remember. I'v been standing outside calling "here piggie, here piggie" and even "suey suey" but nothing has come trotting up. :hu
 
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