thinking about getting a pig

hound_dogJanuary 15, 2010

i have been thinking about getting a pig and i have some questions. I live in the far northeastern corner of Minnesota and i dont know of anyone around here for 100 miles that raises pigs. im confused about where i can go to get a feeder pig and how to transport it. i have a truck but i cant say that i know the best way of moving a pig. I think i want to get one maybe two pigs to raise till fall. thanks for any suggestions.

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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

hound dog,

I have no experience with pigs, but I think one of anything is a bad idea. Everyone needs a buddy.

You would think a large crate with 6 inches of straw would be a nice way to transport the little guys.

Good luck

I hope to have pigs one day

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 12:25PM
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You always want to have at least 2 pigs, they are very social creatures and suffer when raised alone, and this also shows in growing, lone pigs grow slower as they wont eat as much, competition makes them consume more and thus helps them to grow.

As far as finding feeder pigs, (feeders can range from 15 pound weanlings up to 50 pound fattening pigs) contact your county extension agent, he will know who raises what. Being out of the traditional corn belt they may be harder to locate, and the commercial hog industry dont help, but your county extension agent will be the best help in locating pigs. Also you can contact the feed mills as they know who buys what feed. Feeder pigs can be hauled in large dog crates.

Be sure to have shelter, bedded with straw. the shelter can be an A frame structure with 3 sides with the opening facing south, 2 feeder pigs will eat 8 pounds a day of a good grower mash, that amount will increase on up to 15-20 pounds per day. Water must be present at all times and it must be clean. Pigs can eat all scraps from the kitchen (except pork, disease can be passed, other meats are fine, pigs are omnivores) garden scraps are great as well as alfalfa hay.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 2:32PM
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I second the above advice. We raised 2 pigs over the fall/winter last year and did so with a 3-sided tin enclosure and lots of straw for bedding. I had worried they would be cold but some mornings you couldn't find the pigs because they were buried together in the straw :) We used 4 "hog panels" for fencing and that seemed to be enough space. We fed them corn and sometimes a sweet feed and lots of alfalfa. Next time we are going to get the feed place to mix us up a good feed ration. Other than feed/water twice a day they were fairly low maintenance as far as critters go. Lori

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 4:15AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I used to raise a few feeder pigs every year, the 1st year was a real learning experience. If your raising them on the ground they will be in mud up to their bellies. Their pen has to be secure, secure and secure. I chased pigs too many times. The hog pannels with heavy posts finally did the job. They are very strong animals. Another consideration is where you can get them processed. unless you plan to do your own butchering. Here in my area it now costs about 200 dollars per hog for processing. Up about 100 dollars from about 5 years ago. Go for it.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 10:20AM
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We had a good experience last year raising pigs for the first time. We had two and kept them in a small pen for the first few weeks as they seemed to be quite troubled by the chill of our early spring. They quickly got over that as they gained weight and we expanded the pen into a wooded area I wanted cleared and they did a pretty good job of it before they were "retired" to the freezer. We got two as I had heard that they are less prone to escape if they have a playmate and that certainly seemed to be the case. My wife had resisted the idea of pigs for more than a decade. She had been raised in Iowa and her grandfather had been a hog farmer--far more than two--and they had frightened her as a child. We bought one at the 4H auction two years ago and the taste of fresh pork tipped the scale and she allowed me to get a couple last spring. The experience was so rewarding that she now wants two pigs every year! We have dairy goats (Nubians) and the pigs disposed of all the leftover dairy stuff and garden scraps as well as "plowed the pasture" where we kept them. We ran across a farm that had pigs to sell when we were leasing a buck to them to breed their does and arranged a barter that benefited both farms.
I posted several questions on this forum last spring concerning my own first-time pig venture and got good advice. I hope you go for it and have as good experience with it as we did.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 6:35AM
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It has been a long time since I raised pigs in central Ill. but we always got ours at the local livestock sale barn. When you talk to that county extension service...ask if there is one. We used to always have 2 also...less problems & one to butcher, one to sell to pay for the butchering! Worked out well! The rest of the advice has been right on! As I recall, we fed ours mainly corn/scraps...but lots of water!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 10:13PM
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Josh gave very good advise. We raised hogs for years in FL. You need to get 2 for proper growth. If youre feeding right and they are eating right you should have a 50 lbs feeder in 8 week tops and usually in 6 weeks.

A few other things to consider.
What type of soil do you have. If itÂs sandy like Florida a secure lot will need some extra work. We buried chain link fence 1 to 2 feet against undisturbed soil and had a low hotwire inside about 12-18" above ground. Too low and they bury it while rooting and short it.

If itÂs clay electric fence alone should suffice. However if it is clay you may want to consider a raised floor lot or cover a good portion of it under roof. Otherwise youÂll be hunting for the pigs down under LOL

We used automatic waterers in FL mounted securely to buried concreted 4x4Âs with another 4x4 in front so they couldnÂt remove them rubbing on them. Whatever type of waterer you use it needs to be secure because they will dump it right after they take the first drink otherwise. (They like to play in water)

A V-trough feeder that is attached with chain but still loose enough to dump and clean is also helpful.

They like a mud puddle but donÂt like to live in slop. They will set up housekeeping if given the room. Ours had the bedding area, an eating area and a small area they used for bathroom. If itÂs kept cleaned out regularly it will stay a small area. I always hated to see pigs living in swill because people thought they liked that. They donÂt. You will also taste the effects of living in swill in the meat.

As also mentioned they will plow your fields for you whether you want them to or not. So donÂt let them free range if you donÂt want that. They can be very destructive to fields and trees.

As for feed you will probably do best with a pig pellet ration. We mix all our feed for our livestock so we prefer a ground feed ration. DonÂt give pigs whole grains especially wheat unless you like wasting your money. It goes right through them onto the ground. Also donÂt use soybean based feeds excessively as it will make a softer pork. No more than 25% should be soy.

Remember to worm on a regular bases as they will pick parasites up being that they root in the dirt all the time. We used a granular type of wormer fed individually wrapped in a slice of bread with peanut butter. That way we knew each on got the proper amount of wormer and didnÂt hog more pellets than the others.

If you set things up right you should have an enjoyable time raising the porkers. We even had one sow we taught to fetch. They are smarter than a lot of dogs. And if you donÂt have a horse for the kids the pigs work fine.
Ask me how I know. :-P


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 7:07AM
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Mike gave some good in depth instruction, though if you choose to use wormers consult the vet on withdrawl, though raising feeder pigs for slaughter we never bothered.
And realy remeber Mikes advice on cleanlines, it does affect meat, and also worm problems, pigs prefer clean, a mud wallow is one thing, its not filled with feces and does not fill thier whole pen.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 11:15AM
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wow, thanks, i appreciate all of that advice. its good to hear from people who have done it and say that its a good idea. my wife is also a bit hesitant about it but she's up for about anything. if i get hog panels, should i bury the bottom edge? the soil here is clay, i was thinking about setting the panels about 67 inches into the ground and then lining the edges with cinder blocks. i can get the blocks cheap. my thought was that if they dug under the fence, the blocks would fall into the hole and give me time to put a stop to it. i enjoy butchering animals and have butchered a lot of wild game but never a hog but i feel confident that its doable. What do people recommend as far as scalding or not scalding? thanks again for the knowledgable advice.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:26PM
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No need to bury the panels, all Ive ever done is line the bottom sides with heavy logs or railroad ties. Hogs are lazy as long as you keepem well fed and comfortable they wont go nowhere.

Ive butchered my own before, hard work but doable, as far as scalding or skinning its largely a matter of personal preference, I find skinning slightly less work than scalding, but scalding gives ya than chance for fried pork rinds.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 3:45PM
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We had ours processed but I remember my grandmother/father always scalding theirs. Seemed quite a big ordeal, they used a large tractor to raise the splayed pigs into a barrel of water that they had put a fire under for most of the day. They had a system and the equipment to do it but since I have neither, I couldn't imagine trying it. If you have butchered other animals before, I would imagine you could figure out your own system and personally, I would love to butcher our own meat. To me, it always tastes better that way and you know who has handled your meat and that it is YOUR meat. We had a really good experience with the place that processed our pigs but I remember being really grossed out about a place that my in-laws used one time. We were going to pay and pick up a portion of their pig they had processed and when I went in there....EWWWW. The place was gross, the men we talked to were gross and the meat tasted bad to me. I can't deal with stuff like that very well. I'm not talking the logistics like the actual butchering or the by-products of such, but it seemed the place wasn't clean nor did the guys who worked there make any effort to present a clean or organized workplace. We went to a place in Diller, NE and it was wonderful. Had a sort of store front where you could buy their products and invited you into the locker when they went to get your meat. Very clean, orderly. I understand the actual slaughter place was probably very different but it was my impression that since the other areas were so clean and organized, that they would take that approach in the back as well. Lori

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:12PM
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We've raised feeder pigs up here in MN. What we use is a smaller 'tractor' (small pen) and we moved it every day. This way we got our soil improved and the pigs were always on clean, fresh pasture. We have a very small acreage and super sandy soil that I can't even pay someone to plow because it's so full of rocks and this has worked great.

What we do is dump a bag of leaves (we collect leaves in the fall from everybody we know - make sure they don't use pesticides, etc) into about half of the pen at night and, if it's especially dry, soak them down with water. In the morning they have a fantastic time rooting through everything and gobbling up the worms and grubs that have gathered underneath before they moved on to the roots of the grass and weeds. Then, in the later morning/early afternoon we would feed a grain/soy mix and, while they were busy eating that, we'd move the pen about half it's length. We pick up the rocks they've unearthed and throw seed on the area that we'd just moved them off of (rye or something quick growing). And repeat.

We don't feed any meat at all - they're much less stinky if you don't.

Also, up here in the frozen tundra, we've learned that it's VERY important to get your pigs as early in the Spring as you can, and plan on butchering in the fall - not too long after it starts to freeze fairly regularly. If you go too far into the winter, hoping they'll put on more weight, you'll just waste your money - they'll burn the calories up keeping up their body temp and the weight they do put on will mostly be fat. We've found this to be true even with an insulated shelter to go into at night.

You do want to wait long enough in the season that you don't have to deal with flies/bugs/etc though if you plan to do the butchering yourself.

If you can't find feeder pigs in your area, give me a shout - I don't know of anyone off-hand, but I'm sure I could help you find someone.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 9:13PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)


I have 4ft x 10ft rabbit tractor. I have to move it almost daily. It has 6 to 10 rabbits in it at a time.

How big is your hog tractor? You only have to move half it's length daily? I like the concept. Mine would need to accommadate two pigs, or have two tractors.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 1:22AM
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For 2 pigs we did 8'x8', but I would go a little bigger - they seemed happy enough, but they're more fun to watch in a bigger space where they can play more. Definitely put them together - they'll be more content and they'll eat more, faster if they're trying to make sure to get 'their's' before the other one does.

That last 3 weeks or so they get moved to a bigger pen that just stays put. By then the ground is too hard for them to do much rooting or grazing anyway, plus that's when you want them to eat more grain.

Somethings that I forgot to add was that escapes have not really been a problem for us. They always escape a couple times when you're moving the pen and they're little...but it's easy enough to remind them where the grain is and they come back in. For the most part though, we don't feed grain till they're a little hungry and we put it snug up against the 'wall' that's on the side we're going to be moving towards...they're generally way to distracted by it to notice that it's prime time for escape.

I don't doubt at all that they 'could' push over or root under the pen - a friend of mine's did - but we've just been lucky that ours have just not seemed interested in going anywhere else. I think that they're pretty occupied with each other and a new space every day (plus we generally throw some hard plastic balls for them to play with, and our little dogs go in and visit a few times a day...I think there day is just too occupied. It would probably be easier for them when they're bigger, but ours have seemed to get lazier the bigger they've gotten, so that works out.

Another thing is shelter, shade and a way to cool off - through the summer we stretch a tarp over one corner of the tractor to make sure they have shade and a place to get out of the rain if they want to (they usually don't want to). We've attached it to the tractor itself, but it's worked better to just use a narrow strip of tarp, staple a 2x4 to each end for weight and then just roll and unroll as needed - then you can switch corners if the wind changes or whatever, and it doesn't get stretched out from the tractor being shifted around every day. In the pen at the end of the season, they have a shelter - a large doghouse with lots of straw will work if you butcher fairly small (200-250lbs or so) like us.

In mid-summer, I'll drape a garden hose with a 'mist' attachment over one corner of the tractor and keep it on through the hot part of the day - this also keeps them rooting more - they can't seem to resist wet ground.

When we move them, before we plant grass seed, we rake the ground really well too...their rooting tears everything into big clumps that can become like bricks if left to back in the sun for more than a couple of days. We also have chickens and turkeys they go nuts over that area for a few days - which helps a lot, sometimes completely eliminating the need to rake if they really tear into things. We also don't scatter the seed until they've lost interest and moved on (for obvious reasons).

Waterers - like someone said above, they'll just climb into or turn over a tub after the first can put a cinderblock or something heavy in when they're little, but that doesn't work long. We make one out of PVC pipe - cap one end, attach a spigot thing for animals (you can buy at Fleet or whatever farm supply you've got) and rubber band a fine screen over the top to keep bugs out. Attach vertically to the side with wires and fill up through the screen.

Half the length was how much they rooted - almost exactly, it was kinda weird. They slept in one corner, pooped in one adjacent - and rooted the other half. You'd think they'd reverse it once we moved them and leave parts unrooted - but they didn't...ours always seemed to want to sleep and poop in the east corners, even if it meant they were rooting through their poop (on the west side) the following day.

My friend who did have a problem with his pigs escaping from the tractors now uses one line of electric, 6"off the ground - which he moves occasionally, though not daily like I like to. That works really well for him.

We're doing a bunch of feeder pigs this summer and are going to try to do a much bigger version of this method...I'm sure I'll be on asking for advice and sharing how that goes. Wish us luck!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 3:07PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)


Much Luck! Lots of great information. Thank you


    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 7:19PM
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LOL about secure pens. My step-kids did hogs for the fair and they were escape artists. I had to chase my DD's goat down one of the little country roads off our property and several people on that road said they were surprised when they saw me chasing a goat, because they were used to seeing fleeing pigs.

Pigs I love..........and yes they are extremely smart and bore easily and appreciate toys in their exercise yard. Old bowling balls work and they'll push them around with their snouts.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 5:26PM
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wow, im learning all kinds of things here. pigs playing with a bowling ball, who would have thought?!!

i found a guy who can sell me a couple pigs in the spring. he said he can sell a commercial hybrid that is white and then he also has a few purebred hampshires and spots. im interested to know what people thing would be my best option, and what might be the differences in raising the different breeds.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 9:40AM
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One thing I will mention. If you are interested in letting your animals mature and raising piglets, be aware that any domesticated food animal is a walking set of bar-bells. Hogs can get huge, and sows with piglets are something I walk a very wide swath around, and treat with respect. I got the nix when I broached getting more pigs with the DH. LOL. I have pics somewhere of me bottle feeding a piglet at my kitchen table. They're precious.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 3:02PM
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If you're just getting them to raise until Fall (not breed) I'd just get 'pigs' and not pay more for a purebred anything...let this summer be about learning pigs in general, and then put some research into different'll have a better idea of things that you care about.

One thing I would think about though is color and where exactly you're going to raise skinned pigs sunburn really easily. They should be ok if they have a good shady place to rest, but it's just something to think about.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 6:03PM
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Hound dog, our pigs were Hampshires and although I don't have anything to compare them to, would get another pair in a heartbeat. They were long and lean, easy personalities (although one sister was dominant) and easy on the eye. The meat we got from them was exceptional. I've said this before on other posts, that we had to take them to slaughter early due to my DH being deployed and they were the smallest in the lot at that time. I would definitely do it again, small or not. Lori

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 8:39PM
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