Beginner questions about chickens and pigs

spogardenMarch 7, 2008

Hi, hope maybe some of you can give me some advice on chickens and pigs. I have been reading what you have to say about breeds of chickens and it is so helpful. We are planning on getting a bunch of chickens and two piglets this spring. I am mainly getting the chickens for eggs and wondering how long until they start laying. Also, I know they need to be kept warm as babys, when can they go outside? I live in Spokane Wash, still freezing at night sometimes into May. I don't want to keep them over the winter, too much work, so should I buy full grown chickens instead?

As for the pigs, I don't know what I don't know. This will be really new to me and wondering what I need to look for and worry about. We have 2.5 acres, so plenty of room I think, Thanks!

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Depending if you get a layer breed as leghorns or an all purpose breed as buff orpingtons you are going to have to wait a few to a half dozen months for them to start laying. By then you'll probably be thinking about when to slaughter them before winter. Purchasing ready to lay pullets may be a good way for you. For the pigs you could contact someone at your WSU Extension office or better yet someone who raises pigs for 4H. There's lots of good info on the web too. Tom

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 4:22PM
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Keep your chicks under a brooder until they feather or about a month give or take a week or 2 depending on weather breed etc. Adult birds have no trouble with winters the only trouble is in keeping thawed water available for them. They do need a dry wind proof unheated shelter. Layers are a bit like strawberries the second year is the production you really want.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 1:54AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I've got a chicken info site here that might help:

Also on my site I link to a bunch of others that have great info. You can never read too much! :)

Good for you for learning about your animals BEFORE you run out and get them. As for pigs...I dunno, I've never raised them. But lots of folks here have, so I've sure someone will pop in.

Enjoy your animals! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Feeder pigs are probably the easiest animals to raise...IMHO. When my kids would take them to the fair we did it this way. We would buy our feeder pigs in late April / early May. They would weigh 90 - 110 lbs. We housed them in an 8' x 22' "outdoor stall." That is what we had available...but you could just easily put them in a pasture environment. Just make sure they have some kind of shelter to get in out of the sun and weather. Pigs do not they need to regulate their body temperature in the shade out of the shade. A nice "sloppy mud pit" is not necessary.

We fed them 2x's a day (in the morning and at night). We fed Kent Show Chow...but regular pig feed is sufficient. We also supplimented with chicken eggs, goat milk and kitchen scraps. We used to have a lot of "rebel" chickens that do not like to use their nesting we were constantly finding eggs everywhere. Since we didn't know how old they were or if they were a 1/2 chick inside...they went to the pigs. Pigs love eggs and goat milk.

I made waterers out of 6" PVC pipe. Take a piece of PVC about 3' long and glue a PVC cap on one end. Just above the cap drill a hole and insert the automatic water nipple. Hang the pipe on the stall wall approximately 16" off the ground with corrugated plumbing strap. Fill with water and you have nice clean water that the pigs are not pooping in and spilling. Just clean it out every other week or so...You can get the water nipple at TSC.

They always weighed in at the fair (last week of July) around 250 - 275 lbs. We normally bought one of the pigs back from the sale and it was soooooo gooood!

Hope this helps...


    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 9:13AM
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woco(z6 UT)

I hate to be negative but if you are worried about the winter, you should not have any animals at all. Chicks will not grow enough for you to get eggs before winter. They are usually about 6 months old before they lay. Unless you plan on feeding the pigs growth feed they will not reach 275 pounds through the summer either. The winter is part of having a farm. You have to care for your animals all year long so if you do not want to be bothered in the winter, forget it.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 12:38PM
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Bill...I agree that for most of us...animals are a 365-day project; especially chickens. But a feeder pig that you get last week of April at around 100-lbs will easily gain 2 lbs a day for 80 days if taken care of properly. No growth formulas; just Kent Show Chow, eggs and goat milk. I know because we have done it too many times to count. We have a 280-lbs weight limit at our fair on market hogs. There are always 10 - 15 hogs that are over weight...


    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 4:22PM
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Thanks for the info, I think we are going to get older chickens so we will have eggs sooner. As for caring for them thru the winter, I don't think we will but plans change.
The pigs, I agree with Brian, can be done. They will be a kids project partialy but I am betting I will get to take care of them most of the time. Do they get lonely if there is only one? I have plenty of room for them and thought two might be just as easy as one.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Just make certain if one is a male that he is castrated especially if you are a novice. We bought three at once and was told the male was fixed until we learned otherwise. Besides corn and soy mush I used to visit grocery stores and got all the old produce. My boar loved the pineapples, juice dripping out of his jowls. They can be the friendliest animals on the farm.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagating Perennials

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 10:28PM
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People here grow pigs all the time to market weight in one summer. Our Fair ends at Labor Day and that is when most of the market hogs go to slaughter. Some of the homesteaders raise their hogs for nothing by collecting the cast-offs (mostly expired dairy products) from the local food bank and grocery stores. Sometimes you can get garbage at low cost from youth camps in the area. They will separate the edibles in the mess hall for you sometimes if you pick it up regularly and give them a few bucks for their trouble. As Brian said, they are also a great way to dispose of your own dairy waste and by-products such as whey from making cheese. My only real pointer would be to keep the pigs and chickens far apart or with a very good fence between them. One of my acquaintances was raising pigs and turkeys close together with a fence between. When the turkeys grew to moderate size and could fly a little, 24 of his turkeys "escaped" their enclosure into the pig enclosure--the pigs even ate most of the feathers!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 12:07AM
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thanks for mentioning the fence thing, good to know. I would have stuck them next to each other just because it would be one less fence to put up. We are starting on the fencing this weekend if the weather is not too wet. I am a homesteader wannabe but it seems like it is slow going. I have heard that pigs make nice pets and can be smarter than dogs, hope I don't get too attached. That is another reason that I want more than one.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 12:33AM
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sleddogger(2b nw on)

We've raised a couple of pigs over the last few summers, and I've enjoyed having them. Our pen has railroad ties dug into the ground below the fence so the pigs can't dig out. They did figure out how to lift the gate with their snout and get it open. They can be fun trying to catch! On our way home from church one day we saw them digging up the neighbours yard! That was near the end of the summer, and they were big! We tried so many ways to get them back, and we ended up putting a rope around one guys neck and pushing him from behind, and then driving the truck behind and honking the horn. If they don't want to go somewhere, you're hard put trying to make them! We usually get ours around forty to fifty pounds in May, and grow them to two hundred (hanging weight) in October. My mom got attached to our first one, and had a hard time handling the meat and wouldn't eat it at first. She got over it pretty quick, and no one else had a problem. Since then we've always had two, so they have company.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 12:55PM
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songbirdmommy(UT 5)

Hi Spogarden!
I figure you are from Spokane, and it does get horribly cold there and I understand your concerns for your animals over the winter.My advise is make sure that they have a nice warm coop with a heat lamp, especially if you get an ice storm.
If you look on Craigslist or in the paper you might be able to find someone that is moving and getting rid of their flock or just has too many. Your best bet for egg production is to buy hens now that were chicks last year. That way you have this year and next year to get some really good egg production out of them.
If you have never had pigs before, be forewarned, they can get REALLY smelly!
I used to live several miles from a pig farm, when the wind was just right, the air filled with their stench! Not a pleasant smell at all!
Chickens do not smell hardly at all and their bedding/poop is great in compost!
Have a fantastic day! :-)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:16PM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

nothing cuter than a baby pig!I used to raise pigs also and had many litters of them some of the litters were quite large the most largest litter we had was 16 at one time.The runt was a female I called Petuna she was so small that we made a bed for her in a shoe box,her mom "Pearl" rejected her and in the same litter I had a male that was born with no eyes,not even the sockets were formed....we called him "Wilbert" and we raised him in the house for 3 months because Pearl didn't like him either.Yes, you will get attached to them and fast if you buy piglets! Happy Hoggin to you! Suzanne

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:03PM
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Yes I am in Spokane. I am looking forward to getting the animals, went and looked at chicks yesterday but they were sold out of the breed I wanted and I had never heard of the ones they still had in stock so I didn't get any. Came home and read some more about them and will pick up a few next week. The guy said everyone seems to be wanting to raise their own this year and he can't keep them in stock.
I don't have a barn or any other out buildings is the reason that overwintering animals is not an option right now. A barn is not in my budget but we are going to put up a coop and something for the pigs. Once the coop is up I will get some grown chickens too, but the little ones are so cute I wanted to raise a few babies and see if I can get attached to them enough to want to take care of them over the winter.
Sleddogger thanks for the laugh, I can just imagine the pig getting into the neighbors garden! They don't know I am getting them yet. They are already unhappy about me putting up the fence. I actually an looking forward to them, have heard many good things about raising pigs and think I have enough room that they won't smell.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

While I have no first-hand experience, it is my understanding that if you A) keep the sleeping area well bedded, and B) keep cleaning the pen - compost the bedding and manure, covering it, with shavings, grass clippings or leaves - then the pig pen won't smell any more than any other animal's housing. It's when pigs are raised in confinement, and the manure just sits for a while, not being cleaned out, or not except into a holding tank, that you can get the horrendous stench.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 11:54AM
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dibbit...that has been our experience. We treated the "pig pen" just like the goat pens or hen house. It got cleaned out at least once a week with fresh wood chips. We use straw for the goat pens...but straw scratches the pigs skin so we always used the wood chips or sawdust.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Buckeye is absolutely correct. As an animal rescue we have had to speak to many different specialists and they will tell you pigs are very clean and intelligent animals if given the chance. They wollow in the mud because they have no sweat glands and it cools them down but given a swimming pool they would be as happy. They love to cuddle down under warm sleeping bags and blankets in the winter.

People feed them garbage (doesn't help with the smell) because they think of them as "pigs" but the pigs would be happy with pig chow and fresh vegetables. By the way they really hate pooping in their beds and will find an area special for this purpose.

Where we rescued our pony the woman has a farm pig, she has had him for years and he lives in his own poop, and is filthy. As a matter of fact she feeds him the horses poop on a regular basis, so who is the pig.

Remember you may want to feed them what you wouldn't mind eating considering they may end up on your dinner table.

It is our responsibility to keep all our animals clean not theirs.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 11:11AM
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