I'm looking for Piglet Advice!

1ChloeChick

In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 15, 2013
16
1
24
After convincing my husband that I haven't lost my mind, I would like to try raising two pigs for meat, in as humane and healthy way as possible. We live on ten acres, already have a barn, fenced pastures and paddocks, and have been enjoying our laying hens' eggs for a couple years now.

I'm the biggest animal lover I know, and I never thought I would be able to consider raising animals to eventually eat, but my mindset has completely changed...I'm living with cancer and recently buried one friend with cancer, and have two other friends, both with Stage IV terminal diagnoses. None of us have reached the age of 50. The more I read, the more I am convinced that if my children and my family are going to continue to eat meat, then I should be making sure it's the healthiest possible animals, free of all the poisons they are pumping into our foods. Since we have horses, laying hens, and a pet goat, my thought now is it will give me a sense of control over my children's health if I can care for the animals and know that they were fed naturally and in as healthy a way as animals were meant to be.

My 6 and 12 year old kids are very excited about getting pigs, and now we are trying to find out as much as we can about how to take care of them and get their home ready.

We have 24 foot by 20 foot enclosure that we used for a mini pony and foal paddock. It's enclosed with 4 foot no-climb fencing, and it's buried into the ground about five inches. It's all tall grass now. Is this area large enough to keep to pigs in? Also, we live in Central Florida, where the winters may get into the 30s a handful of nights, at best. Do they need to be inside a barn during the winter months, or would a large "dog house" type of structure put in their pen be sufficient with hay for bedding?

We were planning on getting two piglets weaned the 1st of November, so I'm wanting to know how to keep them during the winter, as they will still be relatively young?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Females vs. males? Foods to avoid? Minimal vaccinations recommended? Worming? Breed?
We are planning to get educated at our County Fair next week as well!

Thanks in advance for your help. Sorry it's so long...
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,828
27,263
1,077
St. Louis, MO
You have a good plan going for feeding yourselves more nutritious meat.

Pigs are pretty easy and they won't need any heat or even a building. We had a building for our hogs but a neighbor of ours raised thousands of hogs every year and they just ran the woods with no shelter. We had another neighbor that had very high tech farrowing houses. As for what you want to do, the no frills approach is better.

Hogs live to root with their snouts, just like chickens live to scratch. I guess that's a trait of monogastric, omnivorous scavengers. So with that in mind, your enclosure is big enough for 2 pigs but they'll quickly destroy it just like chickens would.

You could keep them in there and allow them out to forage once in a while. They can find a lot of their own food but a complete feed, preferably organic, will help.

Whether male or female doesn't matter a lot since you'll probably be butchering them when they're 180-220 lbs.
However, if you have one of each, you'll need to castrate the barrow or the gilt will be full of piglets when you butcher her.
Actually, it's a good idea to castrate regardless. Castration should happen around 1-2 weeks of age so they should already be castrated when you get them. If not, do so immediately thereafter.
 

1ChloeChick

In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 15, 2013
16
1
24
Thanks so much for the quick reply and advice. I wanted to ask about something you mention...I thought I'd like to be able to just let them graze in the pasture, but then how would I get them back in their pen?? Are they like my daughter's fat pony and so obsessed with feed that they would follow me back into the pen if I had a bucket of feed in front of them? I just kind of assumed they'd have to live wherever I had ready for them because they're too big to move.

Since I'm getting them as little piglets, can I get them used to following a feed bucket where I want them to go...or are you now wetting your pants with laughter at the thought of this idea??? Are they "trainable"? And please don't say they will come when their name is called or I won't be able to eat them...

Maybe we need to make a second paddock beside the first and alternate each month? I can tell you which idea my husband will prefer...

Thanks again,
Suzanne
 

Chickerdoodle13

The truth is out there...
12 Years
Mar 5, 2007
6,820
401
331
Phoenix, AZ
In my experience, pigs won't just graze. They tend to root all the ground up and will destroy a pasture very quickly! However, if you do let them out, they should come right to you for food! Ours was a pet but he was smart and came when we called him. Yours could probably be trained when you call or whistle.

Other than that, sounds like you have a good plan! I agree with the others who say male or female shouldn't matter, but males should definitely be castrated.
 

Just sayin

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 9, 2014
184
44
88
We have a pet pot belly pig, which I understand is a little diffferent, but only in the details. He is let out in the same area as our chickens, and goats.

He does graze, and he's actually a better lawn mower than the goats. He doesn't root too much, I do think rooting is something they do when all other forage is gone. He eats grass... all day. Exception might be if there are good bugs or something they're after under ground, but mine has not destroyed the lawn. He comes running to come in at dinner time... and trots all the way into his stall and waits by his pan. I'm sure yours would learn to come in to a shaken grain bucket.




Your weather is milder than ours, but our pig keeps warm in the winter by burying himself completely in straw. We open an entire bale of straw and pile it in a corner of his stall. If you can make something like that with deep bedding, they'd by happy in it.

We also made a waller for him to stay cool in when it's hot, and we fill it up when it's going to be hot. They also enjoy having a kiddie pool.

People who are feeding for butcher typically free-feed grower feed and doing that, they can butcher in as few as 6 months. Certainly less than a year.
 
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