Preparing for Pigs

So it’s official, we are really getting pigs, or I guess now I’m supposed to call them hogs? We will be fostering two pregnant sows arriving in a couple weeks and they will deliver their little piglets on our farm. Once the babies are weaned, the moms will return home with the piglets, but a select few will stay for us to raise on our own.

We were able to connect with a local farmer who raises his hogs on pasture and was looking for “foster parents” to help care for his animals. This benefits both parties by saving him time and energy as well as providing us with a buddy system to help us learn about raising hogs. We will also be saving money by getting non-gmo grain straight from the farmer.

I am very nervous/excited about bringing the hogs onto our property, I have never been around hogs before and certainly not these hogs. I’m not sure how they are going to react to our property and setup, but we have a lot of support setup to help us along the way. The farmer we got the hogs from is available, a few of our permaculture friends have raised hogs, we have made friends with another farmer in our town who pasture raises his pigs, and our neighbors have had them in the past. No doubt there is going to be a learning curve, but I’m hoping as along as we more than provide for their needs, they will be happy and with any luck stay in their designated areas. We figured, worst case scenario we can always call it quits and give them back early, but hopefully not.

We have committed to this project and have been getting ready for their arrival over the past week, most of the credit goes to Shaun, but I did help with the fence and offered moral support. Primarily, this has meant building the shelter and establishing our paddocks.  The shelter came out great, made mostly from scrap materials and an extra tarp we had in the garage. We did purchase the two cattle panels that comprise most of the structure. The shelter is easy for Shaun and I to move if we both lift a side and it can also be moved easily with the tractor. We like it so much we have even discussed retrofitting similar structures to use for the chickens and rabbits.

Cattle panels are arched and zip-tied together to create shelter
Cattle panels are arched and zip-tied together to create shelter
Corners of shelter, base made from 2x4s
Corners of shelter, base made from 2×4’s
Easy moving with the tractor
Easy moving with the tractor
Back wall made from scrap pallets
Back wall made from scrap pallets
Finished product with tarp
Finished product with tarp

Establishing the fence has proven to be more of a challenge. Neither of us have worked with electric fencing before 😦 We have setup the paddocks with pasture on either end and woodland in the middle. Our hope is to maximize their time in the woodland and limit their destruction of the pasture. The size of the paddock is approximately 45×90.  Our goal is to keep them in this area for at least a week before moving to the next paddock of the same size. We are using the 1.5 inch electric fence tape to rope off the area, this would not have been our first choice and has been slightly frustrating to work with, but it is what the hogs are currently trained on so we didn’t really have a choice. We didn’t want to stress them out or risk them trying to break free from a different type of system.

Measuring paddock lengths
Measuring paddock lengths
The chickens were very curious why we were out in the field all day
The chickens were very curious why we were out in the field all day
Defining the area
Defining the area
Through the woods
Through the woods

Time will tell if our paddocks are going to work the way we want them to, but we will figure it out. Any advice is appreciated, or if you are looking for more detail feel free to shoot me an email. I will be sure to post an update after the pigs arrive.

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10 thoughts on “Preparing for Pigs

  1. Best of luck to my farmers –what an experience–wish we were there but looking forward to pictures –u need to think of names, no? Love you lots

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. Gram, I’m not sure if they have names already. Usually Shaun says no names if they are going to end up in the freezer, but since we will be giving these ladies back…I like Lucy and Ethel, in memory of one of my favorite duos 🙂

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    1. Yes the cattle panels are the wire part that make the arch, they go for around $20 each at tractor supply and they have many uses, so we got a bunch of them, they are also going to be our “back-up fence” if all else fails with the electric. Since they are 16ft long we can put a few together and create a paddock.

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  2. I look forward to reading about your adventures with pigs, I plan to have a pair in the spring but that is dependent on fencing more than anything.
    As a kid we had a few, most memorably were the ones we shouldn’t have named (I was around 5….) and then the butcher in an effort to be helpful put their names on their paper wrap. No 5 year old wants to eat “Rose’s pork chop”.

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    1. I really like the electric fence. I am using the electric tape only because that is what the hogs were trained on. If I had a chose I would have used the electric rope, I think it is the best/affordable movable or semi-permanent system to use. If I was to do a permanent pen then I would use the cattle panels only.

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  3. ok just found your blog… could’nt find it before… this is so interesting! What an awesome opportunity for you guys… the pigs look like they adjusted fairly quick…love your blogs by the way!!!

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