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Hello everyone,

My husband and I have 2 acres out in the country and I'd say probably half of it or more is wooded. There is also a lot of wooded land that is our neighbors adjacent to ours that is not used. Would we have enough room to have a few pigs if we did electric/temporary fencing around parts of our property for the pigs to graze? I guess the pain in this would be having to move their water from place to place. I didn't think this would be enough room and thought maybe we should wait until we have some more land but wanted to see what you all thought. I know we would of course have to supplement with dairy products and perhaps some forage.

We already have chickens and keep them penned most of the time in a large space in our yard, they free range on the weekends.

We have a pen at the back of our shed that is partially covered and probably work well for a shelter for the pigs. We used to house turkeys in there. Thank you for any feedback!
 

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Sure! I have 6 pigs I keep in a 32' by 16' pen. I move it once every week or two. They root it up really thoroughly. Of course, I have to feed them. You'll have to feed them too, so work a feed plan into your figgerin.'
 

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I figure a maximum of 10 pigs per acre with very good pasture, management and genetics. However you would be better to have more land per pig than that, or fewer pigs per acre. Managed rotational grazing helps to optimize the land use, forage growth, breaking parasite life cycles and minimizing soil compaction. We do this on a fairly large scale of about 400 pigs on 70 acres that grand rotate 40 acres a year. I have a couple of nano-scale setups of ten paddocks on a quarter acre that we use for training weaner piglets and that could be used for a couple of pigs. If you supplemental feed them so much the more. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2013/09/25/south-weaning-paddock/

Years ago I experimented with pig 'tractors' - moveable paddocks - but found that was too hard to manage on our rough sloped land. Might work on flat land with just a couple of pigs.

-Walter
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you, Walter! Your webpage is a great resource. If we decided to try pigs with our current property we would only want to have 2-4 pigs probably since we are so limited on land.

What would be the easiest way to provide water in each paddock area? Just have a permanent water barrel stationed in each area? Same for a feeding trough? We would have so much to learn and research about pigs before we consider committing to anything.
 

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We do it in multiple ways.

We have some cases where we have a series of plastic barrels buried in the ground with a pipe from a spring to the first one and then a pipe from each to the next one. This creates flowing waterers.

In other places we have a moveable trough that has a pipe attached that we can move from field to field. Pipe goes to a spring source.

In other places we have a trough we fill up either with a hose or a hand carried bucket.

Varies with available resources.

-Walter
 

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We just started pigs last year, and have raised 2 batches in our woodland setting. We start them in our barn, which is currently our most solid fencing, for about a week to tame them a bit and train them to a milk bucket (for future "just in case" moments). Then we move them to an outdoor pen with electric wire on the inside to train them for a few weeks. Next, they head out to the woods. Depending on where we need them, we generally use electric netting for the first couple months, as they are so small it is more difficult to get good line spacing from the ground to keep the little pigs from going under. Once they approach 100-150 lbs, though, it is easier. Of course, we have very rough land, with lots of erosion cracks we working on healing (just moved here last year), creek beds, and ravines. When we first start using just hot wire, we usually do two wires, about 4 inches apart--a hot wire about nose height, and good ground wire below. Since they are already familiar with electric, it hasn't been a big problem for us. We would put them in, set their milk bucket on the outside (making sure they saw it) and allow them to remind themselves what that hot wire was all about. It generally worked well. After about a month of 2 wires, we went to one hot, and that was all that was needed.

We ran 2 hogs in roughly 1/8 acre plots, and they never returned to the same area. We just kept moving them down the line we wanted cleared. Next year, we will repeat. As far as timing, the sooner you move them and/or more space you give, the less parasite risk; the longer you leave them and/or smaller the space given, the more they work the land. It's a balancing game for what you need. Sometimes, we want to "massage" an area, but leaving looking fresh, while other times, we want them to churn it to bits. There is no rule of time and size here, as it also depends on number and size of hogs, with size constantly changing too. It's just something you will quickly get a feel for.

I say go for it! We've had fun learning. Walter is a wealth of info, and I read his blog frequently. I also follow Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms for info. Like Joel, our newest pigs provide double benefit by churning up the deep bedding in our barn after our wintered animals move back out to pasture. We don't have a tractor, so we let the pigs loosen and fluff that compost, and then it is sooooo much easier to shovel out! If they enjoy working so much, why not let them?! Saves my back, and creates a great meal in the end! We are actually getting 6 for the 2015 season.

Here's a couple of photos of 2 gilts we had out in the woods, and then a photo of our last barrow in the trailer, just before processing.
 

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Oh, I wanted to ad what we have done for water on our small scale....

We do several things. First, we have a 5-gallon bucket with a hog water nipple attached. It works great for 2 hogs, but you do have to train them to it (I usually coat ours in molasses for a few days, and if they are really stubborn, I put milk in it twice a day. They learn really quick with that!) We also keep a small trough on the pen with water in it. Usually, they use the trough more for wallowing and get it muddy, while the bucket stays clean, but it does provide a safety back-up in the heat of summer. Depending on the day, and the pen location, we can haul water in our truck, use a hose, or haul with 5-gallon buckets. We are just now looking for a larger watering option, as our current system won't work for next year, when we have 6 instead of 2.
 

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Redgate your pigs are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing your plan and what has worked for you. I would love to do a couple of hogs sometime soon but we will certainly have to read up quite a bit on it and get the infrastructure set up.
 

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That's one nice pig! We use galvanized water tanks with floats. We keep two cinder blocks next each one so the pigs use them as stepping stools. Also helps keep them out of the water and the tanks cleaner. They are small enough tanks that we can dump them over occasionally to clean them out.
 

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I can tell you another real surprise we got from our pigs was how incredibly SHINY and healthy their hair was! Every hog I'd ever seen had that wirey, coarse, rough looking fur, and ours, although still somewhat coarse and wirey, was actually semi-soft enough to pet, and just glistened in the sun. There is definitely something to be said for a good balanced diet! They also stay surprisingly clean, considering how muddy some of our lower paddocks can be during the rainy season. Certainly they would have their fun rolling and rooting in the mud, but by the next day, they always seemed so shiny again.
 
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