Feeder Pigs

If you're new to rearing feeder pigs, these fundamentals of pig husbandry will be useful.

Today is that day. It's time to pick up your feeder pigs. So, are you prepared? Between four and twelve weeks of age, the majority of piglets are weaned and prepared to go home with their new owners. A key piece of information to have before picking up your pigs is the approximate age and size of the animals.  

In addition, the time of year your pigs will be ready and the weather patterns are important considerations for raising pigs. If your pigs are going home with you in May or in February, your bedding and shelter areas will differ significantly. Every preparation and choice you make will also be influenced by where you reside in the United States. In the southern states, where temperatures are milder, immediate shade and wallows will be more important to the pigs than warmth.

If you purchase feeder pigs annually, you probably already have their pens or pastures set up, their shelters and pig waterers installed, and you know how much and what kind of feed you need. However, you will have a lot of preparation work ahead of you if you are new to raising your own feeders for pork. Which breed of pig is going to work best for you on your property should be the most important decision. It will be much more enjoyable to spend the next few months or a year researching the benefits and drawbacks before selecting the breed that suits you the best. Once the breed has been selected, you need to determine the ideal kind of pig housing. Remember that most feeders weigh between 20 and 40 pounds at birth, and between 230 and 275 pounds when they are killed. Depending on the breed, reaching this weight could take five to eleven months. Setting a goal is a fundamental aspect of pig farming because some breeds, such as American Guinea hogs and Kunekune pigs, mature to a smaller size and take a little longer to reach their butcher weight.  

From the moment of purchase to the point of butchering, your shelter ought to function. A-frame pig shelters, calf hutches, Quonset huts, and stall-style areas are a few excellent examples. The best shelter is going to be the one that offers your pigs the most warmth and shelter. Though it might work well in warmer, southern states, the stall-type setting does not offer optimal warmth during the bitterly cold winter months where I live in  Missouri.

Both calf hutches and A-frames are sufficiently small to enable the pigs to essentially heat themselves. They generate their own warmth when the heat they release rises to the top and then immediately descends back on top of them. The heat simply dissipates above the pigs in a stall or Quonset-style building because there is too much rise to the heat. While this is perfect in warmer climates where those don't need or desire extra heat, it is not the best option in colder climates during the winter. If the weather is cold or chilly, you will need bedding. The best material for loft insulation and pig warmth is straw. Although it doesn't have the same loft as straw, hay can be used.

One more crucial aspect of pig farming is knowing what to feed the animals before you pick them up. Do the pigs you are buying get hand feeding or do they get free-choice feed? Do they consume hay, and if so, which kind is ideal for this particular kind of pig? Are the pigs' diets lacking in certain minerals? Is it possible to buy the feed they are accustomed to from the same mill as the breeder? How much food is given at each feeding if hand feeding? Is the feed being fed in pellet form or ground form right now? Prior to pick-up, having the right feed will facilitate the transition and guarantee improved outcomes.The Idaho Pasture Pigs are grazing animals, and the secret to ensuring they graze and consume grass rather than merely digging in the ground to find more minerals is to ensure your feed has the right amount of minerals in it. There are differences in swine feed, so you must be extremely aware of what your new pigs need to eat.

Having healthy pigs also requires having access to fresh water. The majority of people are unaware that pigs can thrive when they eat snow. Water availability is still a good idea. A 55-gallon drum with a gravity nipple attached, water lines with pressurized nipples, automatic waterers, and short troughs to fill with water are some of the various water sources for pigs.

Watering will be much less stressful if you choose a water system that is appropriate for your climate and area. When bringing your pigs home, if the weather is going to be warm, you'll need to make sure they have enough water, shade, and a nice wallow to help them cool off. 

It's time to pick up the pigs now that you have your bedding, food, water, and shelter. Make sure you have some dry bedding, whether you're picking them up in a trailer, wire or plastic dog crate, homemade container, or the bed of your truck with a topper attached. The best material is hay or straw because it keeps the pigs warm and comfortable while also preventing them from sliding on the slick bottom. Because they just slide and bunch up, blankets are not the best option because they offer no help and let the pigs just slide around in the crate, possibly injuring them while being transported. As before, make sure the pigs have enough ventilation; however, this should depend on the local temperature and weather at the time of pick-up. More bedding will be needed in colder, windier weather, and less airflow through the trailer or crate. Though more ventilation is recommended and will keep them cool on the ride home, extremely hot temperatures will still require bedding to keep them comfortable and prevent slipping and injuries.  

You've done your homework, chosen the breed of pig that will work best for your farm, made all the necessary preparations for the pigs' arrival, and planned your trip. You should have no doubts that you're going to have a great time and that you'll be enjoying some delicious pork raised right here at home. Enjoy and have fun!