Pork is a great source of protein for you and your family, and if you want to make money from raising pigs, you can sell piglets, breeders, and, of course, meat. When you use pigs for meat production, you get a lot more bang for your buck. Another advantage of raising pigs for meat is that you will have complete control over the purity and quality of the meat.
This article contains helpful hints, ideas, and information for caring for pigs on your farm or homestead. Continue reading to learn more about raising pigs.
Why do we breed Pigs?
Of course, one of the main reasons to raise pigs is for meat production (here’s our article on how they’re slaughtered), but you might be surprised to learn that they can be useful around the farm in a variety of ways.
Many people consider pigs’ natural desire to root and dig to be a problem; however, if you’re clever, you can turn it into a benefit.
Pigs can greatly assist you in clearing land on your small holding. If you have a space that you’d like to use for gardening but it’s overgrown with briars, weeds, and grass, that’s where you should put your pig pen.
Pigs respect electric fences, so it’s simple to fence off areas like this and put your pigs to work while you fatten them.
Your pigs will fertilize the land while they live on it, in addition to clearing it. You can have the best garden ever in a short period of time if you delegate the heavy digging, tilling, and fertilizing to your herd of pigs.
How to Care for Pigs
Pigs are not only valuable farm animals, but they are also quite pleasant to be around. They are adorable, intelligent, and simple to care for (although they may be aggressive as well).
You are not required to exercise or even turn them out for the day. You are not required to gather them in the evening and bring them in.
Furthermore, you are not required to share or milk them. All you have to do is provide a safe, secure, and clean environment, as well as plenty of food and fresh water.
When considering raising pigs for meat, you should clarify a few points with yourself. Determine how much meat you will require so that you can determine how many pigs you will require.
Evaluate the amount of space you have to keep them to see if this number is realistic. Consider what and how you will feed your pigs, as well as whether you will have easy access to a qualified veterinarian if necessary.
Fencing challenges are less common with pigs than with other farm animals. Pigs are social animals that prefer to stay together in a herd or group, so if they have everything they need in terms of comfort, food, and water, they will most likely stay put with minimal fencing.
Because pigs are intelligent, they can learn to respect boundaries, so you don’t have to confine them like you would a bull or another powerful and headstrong creature. Instead, you can simply provide a visual barrier, such as temporary construction fencing, with a couple of strands of electric wire wrapped around the base.
The pigs will notice the construction fencing and receive the message from the electric fence, so they are unlikely to challenge your fencing setup as long as they are content within the enclosure. This makes it simple to move them from one location to another on your farm as you clear land.
In general, pig hoof care is not an issue and is not required; however, there may be reasons why you should trim their hooves from time to time.
How Much Room Do Pigs Require?
You won’t need to give your pigs much room in their mobile pen. Piglets and shoats (young pigs) require approximately 8 square feet each. Of course, it is possible to keep pigs “free run” by providing them with more pasture space, but this is not strictly necessary.
Because pigs spend a lot of time resting and eating, a smaller space is sufficient for pigs kept in a mobile pen or those kept only seasonally. A smaller enclosure will suffice if you’re only keeping a small herd on a seasonal basis rather than attempting to keep a breeding boar and sows on site.
Warm weather promotes the fastest growth in pigs. They will gain the most weight if the temperature stays around 70°F.
As a result, it’s a good idea to buy 50-pound shoats in the spring and keep them throughout the summer. With good weather conditions and feeding, they should attain a size of 250 – 280 pounds by mid autumn.
Note that if you don’t plan to move your pigs pen around, you should give them more space. More room makes manure management easier and reduces extreme damage caused by pigs’ rooting behaviors. If they have a large pasture or wooded area to live in, they’re less likely to dig big holes and create muddy quagmires.
If you do decide that you want to keep breeding stock on site and raise pigs all year, you’ll need to set up shelter that provides cooling and heating.
Piglets (less than 50 pounds) especially need help staying warm. After a pig has attained a size of 150 pounds, it will need assistance staying cool enough.
How Fast Do Pigs Grow?
Pigs mature quickly. If you start with a 20-pound pig, you can expect it to gain up to 280 pounds in 3 or 4 months with a good diet. You’ll want to feed a high-quality pig ration; provide adequate hay and pasture; and include kitchen scraps as long as they don’t contain junk food or meat.
Terminology for Pigs
When discussing the sizes, genders, and ages of pigs, you’ll want to sound knowledgeable. Here’s a handy glossary of common pig terms:
- Swine: A broad term that refers to all pigs.
- Hog: This term refers to pigs of any gender or status that weigh more than 120 pounds.
- Barrow: You’re looking at a castrated boar. This type of hog is sometimes referred to as a “bar.”
- Sow: A female hog who has given birth to at least one litter of piglets.
- Gilt: A female hog that has not given birth to any piglets.
- A weaned pig is referred to as a shoat.
- Pig: A baby pig that has not yet been weaned.
- Piglet: This is a newborn to a few days old baby pig.
Which Pigs Should You Get?
It is critical to select the appropriate pig breed for your needs. In general, modern commercial breeds are always good choices; however, crossbred pigs may gain weight faster and more efficiently than purebred pigs.
There are far too many different breeds of pigs to cover in this article, but the National Pork Board is an excellent resource for researching pig breeds.
How Much Do Pigs Cost?
Market pigs typically sell for around $3.50 per pound. When deciding how much to charge for your pigs, consider your costs as well. If you buy an 80-pound shoat, you can expect to pay around $280 for it.
During its lifetime, that pig will consume a large amount of grains such as:
In fact, your pig will consume approximately 225 pounds of these grains, as well as hay, pasture, and household and garden scraps. When determining the price to sell your pigs, you should factor in the costs of all of these feeds.
Other costs to consider include fencing, housing, water, transportation, heating and cooling as needed, and veterinary care.