Introducing: Suzanne, a guest blogger from Suzanne’s Critter Corner, who has released her first, informative installment about raising pigs.
Suzanne’s Critter Corner isn’t just about selling meat. Critter Corner is also about raising your own groceries. A friend asked me to write about raising pigs, so I’ve decided to write a few paragraphs every now and again about things that might be helpful to raising your own critters. Here’s the first one! Folks have a lot of reasons to want to raise their own food. No matter what your reason is, if you’re thinking about raising an animal for meat consumption, let’s start with some food for thought first. I raise pigs, so I’ll talk about pigs in general, but a lot of this conversation can cross over to other species as well.
First of all, you need time and space. If you have two pigs, they’ll take less time to manage than 20 pigs, but you still need time set aside every day to take care of your pigs. At a minimum, you will be outside checking on them and meeting their needs no less than twice every day. When you first purchase your pigs, you should expect weaner pigs (pigs that were just weaned from their mother) to weigh 20-30 pounds each. When you bring them home they don’t take up very much space. But consider that you will want them to weigh about 250 pounds each when they are butcher size, and they will take up a lot more room.
Your pigs will need a shelter, at least a 3-sided shed with a roof, to take cover from the elements. In the summer, this will provide them with very necessary shade, and in the winter it will help protect them from the wind and cold. Your pigs will also need a source of water which should be available to them at all times. The shelter and the water will ideally be inside some sort of a pen or pasture. My personal preference for 2-4 pigs would be something at minimum 32 feet by 32 feet. These are not magic numbers, nor are they set in stone requirements, but “hog panels” from your local farm supply store all come in 16 foot lengths. Pig containment is super important. If you bring home your new pigs and put them in a pen they immediately find a way out of, I can only wish you luck catching them and getting them back. Pigs root from the ground up, so what’s closest to the ground needs to be even tighter than what’s up say three feet high. 16 foot panels should have a t-post set deep into the ground at each end, plus one in the middle. I like to attach the panels to the posts with #9 wire. Get them good & tight so the panels have no play up or down. If you don’t purchase specifically “hog panels”, be darn sure the holes in what you bought aren’t big enough for the pigs to get through. There are also “cattle panels” which are taller than hog panels, but the holes in the cattle version are bigger and little pigs can pop through them in no time flat.
Before you bring home your future bacon, have your pen, shelter, and water ready for them. They also need to eat. The adage “you get out of them what you put into them,” is the truth. If you’ve never raised pigs before, I suggest buying bagged feed from the feed store this first time. By the time your 20 pound pig gets to 250 pounds, expect him to eat about 800 pounds of food. Whether you buy your pig food one 50-pound bag at a time, or all at once, this is the round number you can anticipate putting into them, literally. These few paragraphs are a good start, if this makes sense and you aren’t scared, watch for my next installment, and we’ll talk some more in-depth about the feed you’re going to put into your pigs.
Be on the look out for Suzanne’s second installment!