Raising Pigs on Your Homestead

SS Project Manager

Almost Self-Reliant
Moderator
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
141
Reaction score
326
Points
176
Raising Pigs on Your Homestead

You can start raising your own pigs at home as a family or 4-H project. The most appropriate time to start purchasing feeder pigs is when they are weaned and between 6 and 8 weeks old. After 6 months, they will reach market weight, which is 200 to 250 pounds. You should look for pigs with a smooth coat, pinkish skin tone, and alert temperament. Purchase feeder pigs that weigh around 40 pounds. Castrated males or females are best.

Pigs are available in a wide variety of breeds and crossbreeds. They all have their own distinctive characteristics. In the past, pigs were either bred to make lard or produce bacon. Today's breeds are bred for a long, lean carcass that is high in muscle and low in fat. If you choose your feeder pig, make sure it's larger than its litter peers. Small piglets tend to do poorly compared to these larger ones.

Housing​

Make sure you have a place to house the pig before bringing it home. Pigs need to be protected from the weather. It is very essential that they have a dry place that is protected from the sun during warm weather. Additionally, in cold weather, pigs require a dry, sheltered area from wind and cold. Make sure the pen is big enough to accommodate the growing pig. Pigs need plenty of room to move around. At least four square feet will be required for each young pig weighing 50 pounds. After reaching a weight of 200-250 pounds, each of them needs a space of 10-12 square feet.

During warm weather, you can keep pigs outdoors. Pig fencing is essential. If you train the pigs to it, you can use a temporary moveable electric fencing system, or a permanent hog-tight woven wire fence with a board around the bottom to discourage digging. A moveable fence system enables you to use the pigs to clear and maintain a piece of land; the pigs will get some of their food from the pasture, and it will keep the pig pen from becoming muddy and reduce odors. You should provide protection from the sun for the pigs if you keep them outside. Pigs have sweat glands only on the snout, so they become sunburnt and overheated quickly.

You should use pig-tight housing and fencing no matter what. This is a highly intelligent animal. Whenever a weak point in the pen is present, they will find it and get out. The task of catching pigs in the morning is difficult, especially if you have to leave for work!

Raising Pigs on Your Homestead

Water​

Pigs drink between two and four gallons of water per day. Fresh, clean water should always be available to them. The simplest way to provide water to your pigs is to provide a tub of water despite the multitude of mechanical and automatic waterers available. Keep your watering system clean, especially in warm weather. In the event that you provide a tub of water, keep it secure so pigs won't root under it and spill its contents.

Feed​

Pigs are very vulnerable to stress when leaving their litter mates, changing locations, and being transported. Plan ahead to minimize stress. During the first few weeks, try to feed your newly acquired pigs the same feed they ate in their previous home to reduce stress. The pigs should be gradually introduced to the new feed until they adjust to it.

Well-cared-for pigs gain about one pound a day. Growing pigs need to eat a balanced diet that can provide them with the necessary proteins, energy, vitamins, and minerals. A higher protein percentage is required for younger pigs. The requirement for protein decreases as the pig grows. Healthy, efficient growth depends on matching the diet to the pig's needs. Pigs at various stages of growth can be fed pre-mixed feed formulated to meet their nutritional needs. This includes starter feeds, grower feeds, and finisher feeds. Despite the possibility of blending your own grains for pig feed, the process might not be profitable since ration balancing requires detailed knowledge.

Pigs are sometimes fed table scraps and other food waste. While this can reduce feed costs, you may still need to use premixed feeds to meet your pig's nutritional requirements. Pigs should never be given raw meat if you feed them food waste. You and your pig could be affected by disease organisms found in raw meat. According to federal law, food wastes containing meat (even cooked meat scraps) have to be cooked according to specific guidelines before feeding to pigs. Otherwise, the meat cannot be sold.

Health​

The best performance of the pig depends on controlling internal parasites, like roundworms. Deworming is typically done about a week after weaning & then twice more at intervals of 30 days. Dewormers must be used according to the instructions on the label. Do not deworm too close to the market date to prevent medication residues from remaining in the meat. Detailed instructions will appear on the package's label. Contact your veterinarian if you are unsure.

Applying approved pesticides and maintaining a clean environment help control external parasites such as lice & mange mites. It is possible to prevent diseases that affect pigs by providing adequate nutrition, housing, sanitation, and management. A herd health program can be established with the help of preventative vaccines. Consult your veterinarian for more information.

Management​

Keeping pigs clean is easy if you let them. They will select a designated eating area, sleeping place, and waste elimination area. If you keep them inside, provide an area free of bedding for waste and a raised-bed area for lounging. If you keep them outside, they will establish their own preferences.

Keep the pen dry and remove manure from it daily to reduce odors. When deciding where to locate your manure storage and housing areas, consider your neighbors. Manure storage areas that are dry are less odorous. Keep the rain off the manure by covering it. The soil benefits from the addition of composted pig manure.

Are you raising any pigs on your homestead?
 
Last edited:

baymule

Sustainability Master
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
9,000
Reaction score
11,828
Points
393
Location
East Texas
Raising feeder pigs is a great way to fill the freezer. Raising them in the summer allows you to take advantage of fresh vegetables from the garden. Pigs love food and will eat your watermelon rinds, cantaloupe peelings and seeds. Pigs will eat practically anything. They love boiled eggs.

To worm pigs, I buy the apple flavored ivermectin horse wormer. I put a small amount on a piece of bread and fold it over. I I Take off the crust and mash the edges together to make a “worm medicine treat” LOL. Pigs can smell that delicious apple flavor and fight to eat the bread. Sometimes it’s tricky to make sure each one gets their worm medication, I toss the bread crusts in opposite directions and toss the bread/worm ivermectin to the other pig. Works for me!

To load pigs, I withhold feed the day before so that they are hungry. Back up the trailer, open the pen gate and crush a boiled egg, dropping it about a foot up in the trailer. I back up a few more feet, crush a boiled egg and drop it. Pigs will load themselves to eat the eggs! I make a pile in the front of the trailer and let myself out the side door. Shut end gate, pigs are loaded. It helps to have someone to shut the gate once the pigs are in the trailer.
 

baymule

Sustainability Master
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
9,000
Reaction score
11,828
Points
393
Location
East Texas
For their water, I used a blue barrel, hog nipple, galvanized pipe nipple, bushing for the barrel and put it all together. The hog nipple poked through the wire, gives them plenty of fresh water and they can't turn over a tub of water, then be thirsty. I got tired of pigs turning over their water tub to lay in the water, or laying in the tub.


1655640235661.png



Since pigs can be dangerous, I put a window in the side of their shelter to feed them through.

1655640443937.png


Pellets went into a pig bin feeder. The feed is covered by flaps that they have to lift up in order to eat. This keeps birds from eating so much of their feed.

1655640542470.png


I built their shelter out of used lumber and tin, measured 12'x12' and was open on one side. In cold weather I tossed hay in the shelter for them to burrow in. They could stay warm and they eat the hay too!

1655640640574.png


We used a 200' roll of non climb horse wire for their pen. It was large and roomy, had trees in it for shade and they had a potty corner in the farthest corner from their shelter and food. Pigs are very clean if you give them enough room. Pigs in a small pen are nasty, not by their choice. Think about it. Pigs root, it's in their DNA to root and eat dirt, sifting through it for insects, roots and whatever they find. If they are in a small pen, they are rooting through their own waste, laying in it and eating it. I HATE seeing pigs in a small pen.

There are 3 hogs snuggled in the hay in this picture.

1655641179969.png


Hogs can catch and eat prey. Your chickens are not safe. This Utopian idea that all little farm animals can live together and be one big happy family is born in Disney fantasies. Pigs eat meat. They will eat you, given the chance. They are the only farm animal that eats meat. Remember that. This is the remains of a crow that went into the Pig Palace to steal feed. He didn't make it out of there. I was rather amazed that the pigs were able to catch a crow, crows are REAL SMART. Evidently, pigs are smarter. Later, the pigs had even eaten all the feathers, there was nothing left. And THAT is why I built the Pig Palace the way that I did. Some of the feeder pigs we raised just gave me the creeps. On one batch of 3, I wouldn't go in their pen unless my husband was standing outside the fence. I carried a 4' galvanized pipe to whack them with, to keep them away. I finally learned to pour some feed over the fence, while they were fighting over that, I ran in and fed/watered them. The Pig Palace with outside water and bin feeder that I could put feed in from the outside, solved that.

1655641448196.png


Then there was Wilbur, the 820 pound boar that we bought off Craigslist for $100. His head was too big to utilize the bin feeder, so we built him a trough. It was positioned under the window so I could feed him from the outside. It was securely fastened down and lasted through many hogs. Finally a group of 3 tore it loose and dragged it around the pen. Nope, I did not go in there to retrieve it!

1655642014548.png



Soured corn and lots of roughage will clean up the meat. Even an 820 pound boar cleaned up nicely. Soured corn, with buttermilk starter, twice a day, hay, and greens/grass/veggies from the garden and Wilbur was a happy hog!

1655642255418.png


In case anybody wants to know, you can't MAKE an 820 pound boar do anything he doesn't want to. Remember my boiled egg/ loading trailer trick? It works.

1655642682852.png


Wilbur, hanging weight was 506 pounds. A pork chop hung off the plate.

1655642935149.png




Wilbur cost $100. He ate 8 bags of whole corn at $6.30 each bag, about $50. Cut and wrap, vacuum sealed, ran roughly $600. Total $750.40
 

baymule

Sustainability Master
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
9,000
Reaction score
11,828
Points
393
Location
East Texas
Hit the 10 picture limit. Wilbur continued.......

One pork chop in the skillet at a time.

1655643214839.png


1655643248155.png


The meat did not have "taint". Taint is a stinky smell, and bad taste. Older hogs will sometimes have taint, boars especially. If there are sows nearby, boars will get their hormones going and that can contribute to taint.

Ham steaks for a neighborhood party. they were HUGE! I made BBQ pulled pork.

1655643575771.png


Half beef hamburger, half ground Wilbur. The thumbprint in the middle keeps the meat from drawing up.


1655643669800.png


Home stuffed and smoked sausage!

1655643849004.png


Breakfast sausage, no casing. I laid them out on a cookie sheet, layered between wax paper to freeze. Then I vacuum sealed them in packages of 10.

1655643972262.png



Wilbur went a long way, we even gave away meat. Big boars aren't for everyone, but I'm not one to pass up a deal.

I have since sold that farm, and will be closing on a new place in the next week or two. I won't be raising feeder pigs next spring, but will get a new Pig Palace built by spring of 2023 and raise feeder pigs again. Hope y'all enjoyed all the pictures!
 

flowerbug

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
3,418
Reaction score
5,394
Points
237
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
i've learned from reading Joel Salatin's books about using pigs to turn deep litter from cows kept in a barn all winter. when you go in to add more bedding on top you scatter whole kernel corn in there. then the next spring when you get the cows out of the barn and back on the fields you put the pigs in there to root through all that bedding looking for the corn to eat. they'll turn all that for you. :)

sounds like a nice system if you can manage the piggies.

i'm not capable of doing animals outside other than those that are naturally out there, so i won't be attempting any of this, but it is nice to read along and to see pictures of pigs not wallowing in their own waste. i know it is possible and love that it is so. hope that more people can treat their animals like this.

for us here we know there are people around us who have pigs because we get whiffs of them at a times, but it isn't intolerable and to me that's a huge improvement over factory farm pig smell that makes you want to throw up when you drive by.

like chickens, cows and gardens. if you rotate through you can do a lot and still have productive pastures and gardens.
 

Latest posts

Top