Monday, July 9, 2012

Raising Pigs

 ***Currently we are not open to the public,
 due to illness, changes and construction.***

Pigs are a great 4-H project for kids. The goal of the 4-H market hog project is to encourage integrity, sportsmanship, cooperation and an ability to communicate through activities such as demonstrations, talks, judging events, tours and exhibits.

Some believe that pigs were the earliest animal to be domesticated, not the cat or dog. Paintings and carvings of pigs over 25,000 years ago have been found. The Chinese domesticated pigs 7,000 years ago.
There is a difference between the farm pig and the potbelly pig - and it is not just related to size.  If you would  rather have a pet and not raise the pig for food, then I would suggest a good pot belly pig - The price is higher than a farm pig, so be sure to get what you are paying for...


FEEDING: Use a pre-mixed feed from the feed store - This is the easiest way to feed. They eat up to 3 pounds of feed. Or get your own: corn,peas,  barley, oats, rye even weed seeds are all fine to feed a pig. 

You can also feed a pig any discarded food from your plate - they will eat anything except onions and citrus peels. Don't feed chicken bones or any pork.

Raw vegetables. If you have a great source (Farmer's Markets, food stores, etc) or you grow your own, vegetables and fruits are wonderful feeds for your pigs. Let your pigs clean up the garden after the harvest.

Pigs can be raised on the long as food and water is accessible to them they won't wander. They love to eat greens.  Rotate the pasture by moving the pigs every day with an easy to move electric fence.

 Pigs can get rather aggressive when they are  hungry. If your pigs aren't hungry they won't try to eat you.
When pigs are young, fencing isn't much of a challenge - they stay where the food is! Even in an unfenced pasture. 

A pig needs to be kept cool, they have no way to sweat much - the way they cool down is in the mud. Provide a place for the pig to wallow - Otherwise, spray him down. White pigs will get sunburned, so they need shade.

Pigs need minerals from dirt - clumps of sod will work - they will eat the greens too. 

WATER: Fresh clean water is essential. Water is the most important part of a pig's diet. One-half to two-thirds of a pig's body is made up of water. Pigs should be supplied with as much clean, fresh water as they will drink. Pigs can live longer without feed than without water.

FENCING: they will stay in an electric fence, but once they learn to get out they will.
Stone, woven wire, and electric have all been used. Woven wire with electric on the bottom seems to be the best.

Some pigs root a lot and some do not. The black and white ones (Hampshires) seem to root the most (in our opinion). The red (Durocs) are less likely. But all pigs do root. They can root up asphalt their noses are so strong!

They do not jump, so the fence doesn't need to be high, just sturdy enough to withstand rooting. (Burying the bottom board is best)

The minimum space for one pig to be happy is 100 square feet. But if you will only have it a short time, less is OK. The boards on the fence should be close together, nail all boards to the inside of the posts. (The pig will push them loose).    

We love our pigs. Pigs are one of the larger animals on the farm. They are smart, and gentle (this is NOT the way with the boar). We have had the pigs be a hit in our petting zoo. We had tubes in the fence, and visitors simply put feed through the tube which fell into a trough - the pigs appetite is insatiable...

Duroc: These pigs have a medium length and slight dish of the face. The ears should be drooping and should not be held erect. color may range from a very light golden, almost yellow color, to a very dark red.  On the average, this breed needs less feed to make a pound of muscle than the other breeds.

Tamworth: From England, the head of the Tamworth is rather striking as compared with that of many other hogs in that it is long and has a snout that is moderately long and quite straight. When seen from the side, the face usually has a very slight suggestion of a dish. Long body, and long legs.
Yorkshire: An all white pig, it is thought that the first Yorkshires brought into the United States were brought
Berkshire: Black with six white points (nose, tail, and legs), these hogs have erect ears and a short, dished snout. They work well in enclosed facilities and are noted for their siring ability.
Hampshire: These are the oreo pigs. The Hampshire breed of hogs may well be one of the oldest original early American breeds of hogs in   existence today. They are black with a white belt that extends from one front leg, over the shoulder, and down the other front leg. They have erect ears and are popular for their lean, meaty carcasses.

Mariann sitting with "Portia the Pig" in labor


BOTTLE FEEDING THE PIGLETS: If you need to bottle feed a piglet - use fresh goats milk if you can. If not, we have used powdered goat's milk you can find in the grocery (in the baking aisle)  Another choice would be milk thickened with a little baby food and sweetened a little with light corn syrup. A bottle with a lambs nipple will work. It won't take long before the piglet will eat out of a pan and can have cream of wheat, or oatmeal. If the piglet isn't thriving, the best thing to feed is an egg.  2- 7 of them 3 times a day.  It won't be long before you're ready to get them outside in a regular pen!

If you love those little guys, piglets can be house broken. They gravitate naturally to sawdust. have a box with sawdust near their pen and they will do their business in the box. 

That is it in a nutshell


Hamlet is a mini pig. He is probably one of the most enjoyable animals we have  raised. He lives in the house with us, is litter trained,  gives kisses for Kiss the Pig contests, walks on a leash, and knows the words:  "no", "pigpig", "Hamlet", "sit". Here he is taking a  treat from my daughter's mouth.

Bath time.

Hamlet is now 5 years old.


  1. Just came over from the hop. I think the sweetest thing would be bottle feeding the piglets. :o) We have had to bottle feed some of our calves when the mama's die.

    We don't have 4H near us. I wish we did.

    Take care,

    1. We never had a 4-H club that raised animals here either... I had wanted to get "experts" to help guide us, but we ended up doing it all our selves by trial and error. Somehow it seemed to all work out and it gave the kids an experience that very few have...

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