Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Porkers

I've wanted to get pigs for a while, but since I've never raised them before I was a little bit reluctant to start (mostly subconsciously). However, I spent a few hours researching pigs online, and it looks like feeder pigs, at least, are very easy to keep. There are a few things that they need:

  • Fencing
  • Feed (mostly corn)
  • Water
  • Shade/Shelter
I already have a movable shelter, which the goats spent the winter in. It's more than big enough for a pig, and it should be sturdy enough to withstand being rubbed on.

For the fencing, I will be using electric netting. It's the same kind that I use for the goats, except that it's three feet tall instead of four feet. I understand that pigs can be contained with just two strands of electric wire, but that is more difficult to move around and I'm less familiar with it. The main thing problem with netting is that pigs can cover the lower parts of the mesh with dirt, making it less effective. However, I think as long as I check it every day, it should be fine. The higher wires still work, even if the bottom ones are grounded out.

I don't want to spend over $100 for a special pig feeder when I'm not sure that it's something I'll keep doing, so I ordered some show pig feeders for $20 each. They hang on the fence and have a chain that keeps the pig from flipping them up. Obviously, I can't hang that on the electric netting, but I can leave a short section of the woven wire fence available for that purpose. I'm also going to keep my eye open at auctions and such for used pig feeders for a good price. I've read the high corn prices and low pork prices are driving a lot of pork producers out of business.

At this point, I've ordered everything I need. Now I just need to set it up after it arrives, buy some feed, and buy a feeder pig. First paddock location will be the packed down straw and goat manure from this winter. Once that is all turned up and mixed in, I'll plant corn on it. As a sidenote, I plan to grow open pollinated corn, which has a higher protein content than the hybrid varieties. I've read that open pollinated corn can be used as a complete feed for feeder pigs on pasture, no additional protein needed.

The good thing is, everything that I'm buying for pig keeping can be easily used with other livestock if I decide that I never want to do this again.

2 comments:

Tracy said...

I know where you can get a pig feeder for free -- but it's, um.. several states away! :)

CORN! You're feeding corn! Michael Pollan would be so sad... :(

j/k

Mel said...

Hmm, what do you figure the shipping would be on that pig feeder? Is it one of the ones you got for free last year? Depending on shipping costs, I might be willing to buy one of those off of you, if you're willing to sell.

Re: corn. Yes, but it will be open-pollinated heritage corn! That has to count for something...

Well, that's what I'll be using next year. This year I'll have to use commercial pig feed. :P