Both those who raise pigs for slaughter and as pets need to know how to house and care for them. The pig is a valuable animal for its meat and manure. The growing popularization of organic foods has generated a wave of consumers concerned about the origin of the meat - many of whom prioritize small local farmers over the huge agricultural industries. Read the article below to understand how pig farming works.
Part 1 of 2: Sheltering the Pigs
Step 1. Build a pigsty
Pigs need to live in a dry, safe environment, out of the weather and with plenty of space to explore. According to some breeders, an adult pig needs 2 m² of space. But it is known that, in the creations where the animals are healthier, each individual has at least 4, 6 m² of space to himself. When planning the pigsty, remember: ideally, its length should be twice the width.
- Also keep in mind that pigs tend to go to waste near a water source. Hence the need for the trough to be at the end of the building, away from food and shelter.
- If you already have a barn with free stalls, you can use it to raise the pigs. In that case, you will have to prepare to transport the manure they produce out of the barn.
Step 2. Install a sturdy grid fence around the pigsty
Make a strong wire mesh fence with planks at the base so the animals don't try to dig. The best option is to calculate the area you will dedicate to breeding and surround it with a sturdy wooden fence. When the construction is complete, incorporate the wire mesh into the structure so that the fence does not sag when pushed by the pigs.
A removable electric fence is a good option for farmers who take pigs to graze in other areas of the property and need to be herded in and out of the pigsty
Step 3. Make shelter in at least part of the area
Pigs get sunburn when they can't protect themselves from direct sunlight or heat, and they flee from the cold and wind in the colder parts of the year. The best solution is to build a covered, three-sided structure in the fenced area. Experienced breeders recommend providing each pig with 1, 50 to 2,00 m² of covered space. The ceiling need not be more than 1.20 m high.
- Remember to leave openings under the frame's eaves so that heat has a place to escape in hot weather.
- To create the shade, simply hang the shade from the top of the pigsty.
- In winter, leave straw inside the covered area for the pigs to warm up.
Step 4. Consider creating a mud puddle
The cliché is true: pigs love mud. The difficulty in regulating its own temperature created in this animal the instinct to cool itself in mud in the same way that other animals cool themselves in water. Reserve part of the pigsty for the puddle. To restrict the mud to a certain area, simply surround it with a low plank fence. Scatter the area with soil and water it once or twice a day (or even more during the hottest times of year).
- Spread a layer of sand on the bottom of the trench when you're done digging it.
- Augment with more earth when needed.
- You will need to keep the place clean - some pigs will use the mud as a toilet!
- Do not throw food into the mud and keep it moist at all times, which prevents flies and the incidence of disease.
- Mud also reduces problems with lice, is a good place to practice digging (the pig's favorite activity) and benefits the skin.
- Pigs are nervous in the heat, which makes them susceptible to heart attacks. In the absence of space for the mud trench, set up a canvas pool in the pigsty.
Step 5. Find out what to do with the manure
A 45 kg pig produces 700 g of manure per day, material that can be used to fertilize gardens and crops or sold to farmers and gardeners in the region who need a larger supply.
Step 6. Reduce the presence of flies
The most common problem reported by pig farmers of all breeds is flies. After cleaning them, cover the urine puddles with a thin layer of agricultural corrective, which can be purchased in large quantities at garden stores. Spread it out with a small container, such as a can of chocolate. The concealer masks the smell and kills the flies' eggs. If you are going to use manure in the garden, you can treat it with this material, too.
- Agricultural concealer is used in markings on football fields, and is therefore safe for humans and animals. In fact, it is the main ingredient in stable deodorizers.
- If you cannot find the agricultural corrective, use plaster, although this is a less potent deodorizer.
Part 2 of 2: Raising the Pigs
Step 1. Buy the piglets at the right time
Pigs tend to grow more in temperate periods (15~21°C is the ideal range). If possible, start rearing in early spring or late summer - this way the accelerated growth phase of the piglets will coincide with the time of year when conditions are most favourable. This may surprise you, but a 22 kg piglet with constant access to water and food will reach market weight (114 kg) in approximately 100 days. Here is a growth spurt!
Step 2. Buy the pigs
It doesn't matter if you want to have the piglet as a pet or as a meal: you will have to buy a healthy specimen from a good breeder. Unless budget isn't an issue, it's best to find a local pig farm that sells piglets. Avoid buying any animal that squeaks or coughs. And if approximately 20% of the animals on the farm you visit look sick, find another breeder.
Avoid breeder fairs with multiple animals on display. Situations like this make the piggies nervous and susceptible to disease
Step 3. Provide the necessary water
Pigs drink a lot of water: on average 8~15 L per day. Fix the trough to the ground and replenish the water throughout the day. If you just leave the trough on the ground, the animals will likely tip it over to play in the water.
The trough is a good device, but the water will need to be constantly renewed during the summer, as will the drinking fountain. There are some drinking fountain models that can be connected to a water source and whose level is automatically controlled by a float system
Step 4. Give the piggies a good diet
As you might have guessed, pigs are pretty greedy. It would be best to use a pre-mixed feed, which ensures a balanced diet. A 22 kg piglet should receive 16% protein every day, whereas a 57 kg animal can receive a 14% protein ration - although many farmers choose to stick to the 16% diet. A pig fattens on average 450 g per day.
Step 5. Give the pig some washing
Pigs live in our imaginations like a kind of walking garbage can - which is a pretty accurate representation. However, the feed should be the main component of the diet and washing, the secondary. Washing can be done from fruits, vegetables, meat scraps, garden plant trimmings and even rotten eggs. But remember: do not feed pigs only with washing.
- However, many substances that are poisonous to humans (such as rhubarb leaves and certain types of berries) are also poisonous to pigs. Avoid offering them raw potatoes and raw meat - both potentially poisonous and pose high risks of bacterial contamination.
- Professional pig farmers believe that it is best to boil leftover human food before passing it to the pigs. This will protect them from any harmful bacteria the food might contain.
Step 6. Protect pigs from internal parasites
The habit of wallowing in mud and manure leaves pigs vulnerable to parasites. Ask your veterinarian for a prescription for an anthelmintic to kill any worms they may have caught. It is advisable to repeat the treatment every four to six weeks.
Step 7. Sell the pigs
Those who want to sell the creation can do so after the animals have something between 90 kg and 115 kg. When they are ready for commercialization, their price will be evaluated according to size and health. You can sell them at a livestock auction, to an individual buyer or to local establishments. Or you can discuss your options with a slaughterhouse.
Step 8. Remember that pigs can be dangerous
A 45 kg pig could hit your legs with thunderous brutality, and taking a bite wouldn't be much fun either. Carry a wooden plate with you to drive the pigs to the pigsty and to protect yourself in case of an attack.
- Use a 80 x 120 cm plate with handle-shaped cutouts on the top edge and sides. You can buy a type plate at a low cost on the internet.
- Or you can make it at home, attaching handles to a plate in the dimensions mentioned above.
- Don't buy a pig that is too young - it should spend at least six weeks with its mother.
- You can use pesticides recommended for pigs to prevent lice and ticks.
- Check the condition of the fence periodically. An intelligent animal endowed with a remarkable ability to dig, the pig will detect any weakness in the fence and make good use of it at the first opportunity.
- It is advisable to install livestock fans in the pigsty so that the air circulates properly. Leave them outside the fence and without any electrical wires within reach of the pigs.
- If you raise pigs for slaughter, you must sell the produce to a reputable abattoir whose facilities are hygienic and which stuns the animals properly.
- Never feed pigs with raw meat, which can transmit diseases and prohibit the sale of their production, if it is proven that the animals had access to this type of food.
- Don't let the piglets go into the mud puddle with adult pigs. Piglets need their own trench. Adult animals are inattentive and can injure or kill a puppy by accident.