Winter Pigs

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by highlands, Nov 11, 2004.

Do you keep? (and where do you live - put in text of msg)

  1. Summer pigs (buy piglets and raise in warm months for slaughter)

  2. Winter pigls (buy piglets and raise in cold months to slaughter)

  3. Year round pigs (buy piglets and raise to slaughter)

  4. Sow(s) (thus year round)

  5. Sow(s) + Boar (thus year round)

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  1. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,718
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
    Hi Jeremy,

    We originally got our base sows from a local pig farmer who has had them through the same cold Winters we get. That was one of the important criteria I had when looking for base stock. So to answer your question, they do very well in our cold winters. These are hairy pigs which probably helps somewhat.

    In the winter we have them in garden corrals (gardens in summer, corrals in winter) with open sheds for them facing south to catch the sun. We give them lots of bedding hay which they fluff up and nest under. You can see some photos and discussion of this at: http://hollygraphicart.com/misc/haybalecoop2.html It is a really structure and even simpler will work fine. Some of our pig shelters are litterly holes dug in the hill side, right into the ledge, with south east facing enterances and then roofed over. I made those underground shelters this summer and the pigs loved them. I haven't had a chance to make a web page about them yet.

    I would not want to have a single pig by itself through our winter as they do keep each other warm. If you were just doing a single pig then sticking to warm months would be better. When there are several pigs together they snuggle together at night and keep each other warm.

    It is least expensive to raise them on pasture in the warm months than it is during the winter since in the winter you need to buy hay and more other feeds. An advantage of raising them in the winter on your garden with hay is that next spring it will be nicely fertilized, mulched and tilled up. Our soil here on the mountain is very poor and acidic. Putting the animals on a garden spot for one winter makes for good garden soil and the following winter it becomes super rich. They work excess hay into the soil as well as fertilizing and tilling it up. They also kill off almost all the weeds so I don't have to weed in the summer, much to my delight.

    We do. Hay makes up most of their diet in the winter. All year round they also get a little bread (1 or 2 lbs? per day per pig), a little grain during farrowing periods before they drop a litter and after plus any veggie scraps I can give them.

    During the summer they forage on the pasture getting almost all of their feed there from the grasses, brush, herbs and rooting.

    They'll be much better if there are several of them to keep each other warm. What ever you do, provide lots of bedding hay for them to nest in.

    We have running water from the spring higher up the mountain to our waterers. These are 50 gallon barrels buried in the ground with their tops sticking out. That stays free in all but the coldest weather. When it gets very frigid I break the ice on the surface in the morning. I only have to do that a little each winter. Sheltering the waterer from wind and putting it in the sun helps.

    The mix of chickens and pigs out on the pasture is great because the chickens can follow the pigs and peck apart poops. Chickens will eat parasites which helps keep cattle, sheep and pigs healthier. Raising the pigs around chickens so the learn to treat the chickens as other members of the group is important. Don't feed the pigs meat and if they do grab a chicken then it is time of the electric chicken teaching trick (hang a dead chick from a hot fence wire). Note that if you have them on pasture in the Fall the feed will get low and the pigs will be more likely to grab a slow chicken. This happens more during mob feeding if a chicken tries to take food from a pig - think "chicken sandwich". I think the pig may not even be trying for the chicken, but once it is in its mouth it is too late.

    I sold more piglets today and have just three left. If you're interested, let me know and I can give you directions. If you need me to hold them for you for a little while so you can build a space for them I can do that with a deposit.

    I would like to post this message on the board unless you object simply because others might have similar questions. {redirected to board with permission from jeremyx}

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    Sugar Mtn Farm
    in Vermont
     
  2. jeremyx

    jeremyx Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Cornish, NH
    Do the pigs drink directly out of these, or do you fill up waterers for them?

    How much hay do they require? We do well with our chicken because we raise them in a chicken tractor on organic feed and market them as fresh organically fed chicken. How much should I expect to pay for bails of organic hay (if there is such a thing -- I was thinking of looking for hay that was not chemically treated in any way).

    Another alternative is to just feed them organic pig feed through the winter. I checked at the local feed supply and they are offering it at $12.50 per 50lb bag. According to my calculations, it should cost about $160 per pig for feed. That's planning on 650 lbs of feed per pig. Or, the feed could just be a supplement for the non-chemically treated hay (if I can find it), and I'd required less of it.

    Not to be long winded, but I'd like comments on this general plan:

    For spring pigs I put together the following numbers in a spreadsheet:

    Price charged per pound(post processing):$3.50
    Avg pounds sellable pork: 160
    Income: $560.00
    ------------------------------------------------
    Piglet Cost: $50.00
    Bedding: $20.00
    Feed (Organic): $160.00
    Hauling: $10.00
    Vet & Minerals: $5.00
    Processing: $80.00
    Market, label, storage: $25.00
    ------------------------------------------------
    Total Cost: $350.00
    ------------------------------------------------
    Pigs per batch: 3
    Pigs kept for our family 1
    Net Income per pig: $210.00
    Return per batch: $420.00
    -------------------------------------------------

    As you can see from the numbers the profit on the 2 pigs should more than pay for the one our family would keep. (These numbers do not include initial cost of fence, shelter and equipment). This is assuming we can get 2 familys to commit to buying the processed pork from the 2 pigs at $3.50 per pound. I think we can do that as we know lots of people who pay much more for individual cuts of organic prok at the local Co-Op, and have expressed interest. Do these numbers make sense?

    Also, if we did 3 winter pigs, we figured we could sell 2 at the Farmers Market in the spring as individual cuts at a higher price, paying for our one pig and offsetting the cost of fencing, housing and equipment.

    What do you experienced pig farmers think? Thanks for the comments.
     

  3. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,718
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
    They drink directly from the spring fed waterers. That saves hauling water.

    I find they need about 0.1 bales per day per pig on average over the winter.

    I don't know about 'organic certified hay'. The hay we get hasn't been sprayed with chemicals. It is just cut fields. We pay $2 per bale (about 50 lb) by the load but prices vary widely. Certified organic hay I suspect would be expensive.

    Spreadhseeting is fun. Remember to multiply by pi. :)

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  4. jeremyx

    jeremyx Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Cornish, NH
    Thanks Walter!

    How long could you hold your pigs if I gave you a deposit on them? And how much would we need to deposit? You can reply here or PM me.
     
  5. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,718
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
    Hi Jeremy,

    Send me a check for $10 per piglet for a deposit and I'll hold them for you for a couple of weeks while you get your space ready. How many would you like? I have intact males left. I can castrate them if you would like before you pick them up.

    Intact males grow faster than gilts (females) and barrows (castrated males) but at some point they hit puberty and can get a taste in the meat and especially the fat that is called 'boar taint' which offends some people. Thus the cutting.

    There is an interesting Brazilian study I ran across that the intact boars grow 10% faster and are okay if slaughtered before 220 lbs or four and a half months. One of the key paragraphs from the study read:

    [QUOTEBased on the data in Table 1, obtained in entire males tests, we conclude that it is possible to produce 100 kg live weight pigs at approximately 140 days of age.[/Quote]

    The study I read can be found at:

    http://www.cnpsa.embrapa.br/pork/anais00cv_favero_en.pdf

    I haven't personally tested this but it is very interesting reading. Even 100 kg (220 lbs) of boar might object strenuously to being castrated... I would expect trying to castrate a large boar would be an experience shall we say, although I hear some people do it to even larger ones. I think I'll skip that adventure if I can and castrate at a smaller size. :)

    Cheers,

    -Walter Jeffries
    Sugar Mtn Farm
    252 Riddle Pond Road
    West Topsham, VT 05086
    walterj@SugarMtnFarm.com
    (802) 439-6462
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  6. jeremyx

    jeremyx Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Cornish, NH
    We'd want 3. How big are the boys at this point?
     
  7. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,718
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
    We just weaned them and I weighted one this morning since I butchered it for tomorrows pig roast. It was 32 lbs live weight.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
     
  8. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,220
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    NW-IL Fiber Enabler
    Year round (buy weaners). pigs are pastured and have pig hut filled with straw in winter. We're in NW IL