View Full Version : Piglets

Dec. 18, 2010, 07:43 PM
So, I'm thinking of buying a couple piglets in the spring, well, April anyway. Spring does not always arrive in April.... ;) And then bringing them home when they're weaned.

I know nothing about pigs.

What do they eat?

What kind of pen are they happy in?

Do they need a heated shelter - Alberta winters are cold.

Behavior / temperament issues?

They are intended to be a food source for us, so how old are they when they go off to the .....?

My problem - I'm such a freaking bleedin' heart that I'll probably fall in love with the wretched things and that will be even more pets for me to keep feeding until they die of old age!

I have similar fears if we get chickens.... :rolleyes: :sigh:

Dec. 18, 2010, 07:58 PM
I don't know much about pigs, except they are super smart, and if you read the book The Good Good Pig, by Sy Montgomery, you will never eat a pig.

My farrier and BM, both raise pigs for meat. They put down the best food ever, and then shoot them in the head while they are gorging. To me, that is the best way...they have no clue, they are in their home. Then they take the pig or do something to get the meat...I can ask, didn't pay much attention after that, just wanted to know how they processed the animal's death.

Dec. 18, 2010, 08:32 PM
They make pig food, specifically for pigs. Comes in 50# sacks, just like horse feed does. Purina, & many other smaller mills.

There also pig feeders, designed specifically for pigs.

On, & on, & on....




Google is your friend. ;)

My little town had one of the best swine authorities in the US, before he lept into the corperate ring of "swinedom."

Oh, & they are swine, not pigs. It really offends swine owners when you call them pigs.

I know more than one kid that has gone to college on scholarships they garnered through showing swine via 4H, county fairs, & at stock shows.

Dec. 18, 2010, 08:37 PM
Pigs are super easy!!
We raise our own pork/ham, beef, chicken, and eggs and they're just plain easy and very hardy! Probably the least trouble out of all the above. (chickens only b/c the peeps need a lot of attention at first - after they're bigger, they are SUPER easy, too!)

The hardest thing is KEEPING THEM IN their space!!!
Ours are "Free Range" - we have a treed parcel in the back of the farm (about 14" of leaf litter and taken over with Mountain Laurel that likes the acid = no grass yet)

We have an electric fence and move it around as they root everything up. They LOVE to root and the tiny babies will even gnaw the dirt off your boots in the birthing pen before they've even seen dirt!

They eat roots and plants, tree leaves - we also get the produce "2nds" from the local supplier. The only thing we've found they WON'T eat is carrots!! They love most any type of fruit or veggie, as well as bread and table scraps. They also get a sort of "ration balancer" for protein, vit, and minerals.

As for water - we have an " auto nipple" hooked up to a frost-free hydrant and they do great!

We usually neuter them about 3 weeks old - no antibiotics or painkillers are needed and they do just fine.

Grow them to @ 6mths = 250lbs and they're good to go!!

Be warned, if you keep them, they get HUGER than huge!
We have an 800lb female out there!

We handle ours a lot (mostly 4-H piggies) so we've never had temperament problems. They're mostly just skittish, not aggressive. The babies are super quick and SCREAM, if you pick them up. We catch/hold them, until they relax and stop yelling and they quickly learn we're no threat (just be sure mom doesn't grab you for making her baby cry!)

Just like horses - We did get a boar in who had learned he could be a bully. Would grab you behind the knee to knock you down and take the food, if you didn't give it up when he approached!

Have fun! I don't really handle what we're going to butcher after they're going good as babies...

Dec. 18, 2010, 10:39 PM
We have Tamworths which are agonizingly slow growing, get what my DD calls the bat faced pigs, landrace varieties. We feed ours corn+oats+soybean pellets but the local mill doesn't have soybean pellets sometimes. They are very very food oriented, they are interested in just about anything but I don't advise feeding meat products. We do feed excess eggs hard boiled which they LOVE. They may bite you and the big ones can knock you down and kill you. During the civil war loose hogs reportedly fed on the dead and wounded men alike.
Our boar however likes his belly scratched and will knock you down when he lays down and rolls over for you to scratch it. Neuter early rather than late and if your vet can't be bothered to come out and help you the first time there are videos on Youtube. They root and ours have dug down a foot around the run in so it is now well drained but we have to use the plentiful rocks to keep them from crawling under. We use electric fence, the little ones may run through it or dig under it, we have logs at tunnel points or rocks. They live in huts with straw for bedding and enjoy sleeping together, in a "pig pile". We have had temps in the single digits and the boar was outside by choice but I wouldn't recommend that in Alberta, you are colder longer. They can be extremely destructive, according to my DH the pig neck arrangement for rooting is the second strongest muscle group in mammals behind the mole's diggers. So put them in a well bedded concrete floored solid walled stall or kiss your stall mats goodbye, they'll tear an auto waterer down but we had troubles with the nipples so this winter we bucket heated water into tubs.

They're fun, but as they get to slaughter weight they get a lot less cute so it isn't too hard if you compare them to pork chops in the freezer. We named the sowlets which we intend to keep but not the barrows.

Yes, the Tamworths especially are handsome and smart, smarter than the dog and I am going to have a really hard time when the barrow that knows "sit" goes to slaughter, which should have been late Autumn. There are little custom meat cutters anywhere there is deer hunting, you can take them in live or dead.
We had a friend who killed pigs for the Asian market and he "stuck" them, let them put their heads down in their favorite food and cut the artery under the neck to collect the blood. He said it was very painless, they ate until they passed out from blood loss and then it's only five minutes on average before the brain goes from hypoxia.

The horses have varying opinions. The neighbor mares were absolutely horrified for weeks, would come down to the fence, look, wheel and run, stop, stamp their feet. They are better now but I have watched the mares set the pigs off so both groups spook, like watching a flock of birds take off in different directions. Our two, the pony does_not_care and the old guy will spook if he thinks he is too far from the pony and wants to go back. Sort of like stomping his feet to get his way.

You may need to worm them, ivermectin is good with a 28 day withholding period, dichlorvos sort of works. Both can be fed in Twinkies (they like junk food a lot too). I got this info off a forum that is not very lively but they have archived info and the worming is the same as using goat wormer on horses, you just want the right number of mgs per pound of animal, doesn't matter if it says horse cow pig or sheep on the box.
I'll search, I know there are other post about pigs that you may find useful. http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/search.php?searchid=8351063&pp=25&page=2

jSearch on sow or boar and you will get more, pigs gets you too many fat horses!

Dec. 19, 2010, 11:08 AM
And what makes it onto the front page of Yahoo today but this sad story, complete with pictures of hideous conditions:


Dec. 19, 2010, 07:32 PM
We raise feeder pigs on a very small scale (2 litters a year). The biggest issue is making a pen that they can not dig, bulldoze or destroy. We use super fortified fencing and hot wire. Also, if you are in a cold climate you will need heat lamps on the babies until they get a little bigger. There are lots of commercially available feeds. Just make sure they have about 20-21% protein when they pigs are small and you can go down a little as they mature. We have run into problems with feed having a high level of undigestible ingredients which leads to a lot more waste and feeding more. Try to stick with a reputable brand (purina or moormans for our area) or if you can get 'grinding mix' from a larger farm that might be even better. For our area grinding mix consists of ground corn, soybeans and a mixture of vitamins and minerals. It may vary in other parts of the country.

You can supplment with bread, fruit or veggies, just make sure they get some feed to get enough protien and vitamins. We had one neighbor that fed his almost exclusively left over bakery products and they just did not grow much and layed down a lot of fat without a lot of muscle.

The website www.showpig.com has some good information if you run into specific problems.

Good luck!

Dec. 20, 2010, 06:24 PM
And what makes it onto the front page of Yahoo today but this sad story, complete with pictures of hideous conditions:


I go to an ag school and for my animal science classes got to go to the school's swine center, which also uses gestation crates. It made me very sad to see those animals living like that.

Dec. 20, 2010, 06:33 PM
I know of a woman who feeds her left over goat's milk to her swine... says she is going to raise a calf for her freezer on goat's milk too... apparently it helps produce good meat animals.

Dec. 20, 2010, 07:47 PM
I live in Alberta too and I raise my pigs outside, they do great! The trick is shelter and lots of straw. I keep them in with electric rope (mostly ;0) I get my feed from the local feed mill, he mills me up a special mix we have concocted with the ag guy, I buy it in mini bulk bags,1200 lbs at a time, it is way cheaper and healthier then any processed feed. I also give them the old produce from our local store. I get the stuff they don't sell. In the summer they get stuff from the garden, in the fall they get the leftovers from the garden harvest and all the downed apples etc.

I have raised Yorkshires for the past 2 years, this year I bought Berkshire/Tamworth crosses that I am going to breed with them to make a hardier winter pig. I handle them daily, so they are very friendly, as are all of my animals.

I have a facebook farm page with all of my animals on it, I raise everything old school, free range and real food they way they are supposed to be raised. Here is a link if you want to see them.