Considering quitting the big pig business and sticking with buying piglets

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Laura Workman, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Hey, I've seen some of those adult males, and that was plenty for me. One in particular must have weighed 800 pounds. He was as big as my horse, but shorter-legged. I also didn't want to do the buying weaners thing, so I got a couple of potbellies. Had my first taste a month or so ago, and I have to say, them's good eatin'! Easy to handle the adults, too, as they only weigh a hundred pounds or so. I sold the five extra babies from the May litter for enough money to feed both adults for a year and the two remaining babies to butchering size, and I was practically giving them away ($50 each). I'm expecting another litter in October. So far, I'm pretty happy with the experiment.
     
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hi, I would say a lot of people get to the stage your at, not least myself. :D

    I really do think that pigs are only viable if one is prepared to put the time and effort into it. I collect food scraps from friends, milk cows and during the growing season collect squash, pumpkin, fruit etc. All of this is not necessarily expensive to do but it is time consuming. However, the feeding costs for the pigs are negligable, we get to drink our own milk, the calves from the milking cows are a bonus and we eat excellent pork.

    There are serious economics in keeping a boar for two sows - are you in a position to AI or perhaps have the use of somebody elses boar for a fee? If neither are an option you are stuck with having to maintain your own boar. I keep 7 breeding sows and 2 boars and this allows me to pick and choose which boar goes to which sow and when.

    Over the years I have done lots of experimentation with fencing, housing etc.
    Nowadays all my pigs are pastured and all have rings in their noses. They are kept in with mains electric - 3 wires approx 18" apart - and not one of the pigs has ever got through it, even when I switched it off and forgot to switch it back on for three days. The two boars have a small paddock each as these two don't get on very well, and the sows are taken to the boars. The dry sows run together in larger paddock until a week before farrowing when they are shifted to the farrowing area. This is a shipping container that we have turned into two farrowing houses, each with a creep area that can be shut off from the main house and each has a small grassed area that the sow can be turned out to during the day to give her some respite from her young. This also helps when it comes to weaning as the sow is used to being away from her young for periods of time and one isn't left dealing with a very agro sow.

    Leading on from that, I let the sow out from her young at about 3 days of age for half and hour, gradually increasing the time as they get older. I offer the piglets creep feed most of which is initially wasted as they play in it but by the time they are two weeks old over half their diet is made up of creep feed and milk and their mother is away from them during the bulk of the day. The piglets do well, the sow doesn't lose condition and weaning is so easy with no upset piglets and angry sows.

    I also have a set of cattle yards and use the drenching race for ringing pigs, worming them or administering any medication.

    I don't know if any of this helps you at all but believe me, I've been at my wits end and tearing my hair out in the past with pigs all over the farm and never where they should be, pens that should have held them in and didn't but I love pigs and persevered and now seem to have a set up and system that works. Don't lose heart because it can be very rewarding.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     

  3. .netDude

    .netDude Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ronney, that's good info.
    I have a couple questions:

    - is this regular smooth wire, or high tensile? Is the first wire 18" from the ground? Did you have to train them to the electric, if so, how?

    What's a drenching race?
     
  4. tenacres

    tenacres Well-Known Member

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    Ronney, thanks so much for the post! I think you helped quite a few of us. I would LOVE to see pictures. Do you have any that you could post? Thanks again. I, myself, learned quite a bit.
     
  5. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear of the difficulties. We have eight sows, a boar and growers. We pasture them all during the warm months and then during the winter they go into our garden corrals. The fields have minimal electric fencing - some sides aren't fenced yet but just go to stone walls and then forest. Since all the pigs needs are met within the field areas they stay in.

    It is necessary to train them to the electric fence in a secure corral. Once they learn it they are very respectful as long as their needs are met within the fenced are - friends, food, water, mud, sex, etc.

    As to farrowing areas, we find it is best to just let the sows farrow out in the brush. They vanish off to their nest building and then show up a few days later with a litter of healthy piglets in tow to show me. I did build some dens into the hillside. They use those, especially come winter and for sleeping in the rain, but only a few of the sows have ever farrowed in the dens.

    On the cost of a boar, consider borrowing a boar. That is what we did for the first few years. We traded one piglet from each litter. Eventually we got our own boar, from the same fellow we had been borrowing a boar. We waited to get a boar until we had more than three sows to breed at a time.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  6. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    I'm really pleased that my post helped some of you, I was quite stunned because I didn't think I'd said too much of interest and nearly canned the post altogether because I thought it sounded pompous. :rolleyes:

    .netDude, the perimeter fencing around the pig paddock was in place when we shifted here just over 4 years ago. It is ordinary 25mm, galvanised, high tensile fencing wire and we have continued with that with the interior fencing. I had a closer look today and the bottom wire is approx. 12" from the ground with the remaining two being approx. 14" apart. No, I didn't train the pigs to electric. Some of these pigs came with us and had never seen an electric fence before. One belt from it was enough to teach them to stay away from it. Other sows have been born here and have grown up with electric so know from a young age what it's about - and the same goes for the sheep and cattle.

    I'm sure you have drenching races in your cattle yards, it's just that I don't know what you call them. It's the narrow area built (usually down the side of the yards) that you load cattle into when your wanting to worm them. Mine has 3 gates at one end - one leads onto a loading ramp for trucking, one to the left allows them to be drafted back into the yards, one on the right allows them to be drafted into a holding paddock. It is wide enough to take a bull but not so wide that an adult pig can turn around in it. I also use it for vaccinating and drenching my sheep.

    Tenacres, I'm sorry I don't have any photo's but anything you would like to know about my set-up, I'm happy to tell you.

    Highlands, I gave up allowing my sows to farrow in the great outdoors a long time ago. The odd sow would rear most of her litter but in the main, the losses in the first 3 days after farrowing made it uneconomical. Between the vagaries of the weather, the silly places sows will make nests and rollovers I was losing 50% plus of the litters. All of which made me realise why pigs have so many babies - in the natural state there are times when they would be lucky to rear four through to weaning and predators could take care of two of those. In a farrowing house they are consistantly warm and dry, and creep rails and/or heat lamps discourage rollovers.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  7. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    I really believe people that have had bad experiences with electric fencing had either poor equipment or poor installation.

    Properly installed electric fencing is unbelievably effective. My kids unplugged my fence once, and it was a WEEK before I noticed. The pigs stayed put. I couldn't tell from their behaviour that the fence wasn't plugged in.

    I don't think I could push one into the fence if I tried.

    Pete
     
  8. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. We use electric along the road side of our fields and for winter corrals. It is very effective. We have stone walls all around the fields including under the one or two wires along the road. My prefered version is the high tension smooth wire. But even the cheap plasti-twine electric fencing on step in posts works. Pigs do need to be trained to the electric just like any animal. This should be done in a physically securely fenced area with multiple strands of electric.