Pig Talk is all about raising, breeding and selling swine. There's stuff for newbies and stuff for old hands too.
Pig Talk Episode 4, Containment, Lysine
Here we are at episode 4 of Pig Talk.
Today I’m going to continue talking about the preparation that might help you be successful with pigs.
If you’ve been following along, you probably have a piece of paper that lists all the reasons that you have for wanting pigs. Next to each reason, you ought to have what type or types of pig can meet your need. It’s time to take a look at how many pigs you can support on your land.
To figure out how much land you need, you need to look at the reasons you’ve listed in your notebook. Reasons, 3, 4 and 5 (land improvement, food quality and respecting your food) affect how much land you are going to use. It’s also possible that reason #2 (extra income) is going to influence your land use.
I’m going to start out with the smallest land usable. Just so you know ahead of time, I don’t like this method if there’s any other choice. I’m going to call this the 4H method because I’ve seen this in their curriculum. 4H may have changed their curriculum since I’ve seen it. BTW, I think 4H is an amazing organization—I took part as a kid, though not with animals—cooking. So, even though I don’t favor this method, I love 4H.
So, the 4H method. Basically, your pig pen can be 6 feet by 12 feet. The pen should be out of the wind. There should be a shelter of some kind. You need a feeder or trough because you won’t want the pig’s feed hitting the ground (in this method). You’ll also need a water trough or a waterer. It’s most common to use hog or cattle panels for the fence. You can secure them to t-posts. You may or may not need an electrical wire to keep your pig in place.
Free range. This method is the easiest. You don’t need a food trough. You’ll need a water trough or pig waterer. The pigs roam around with no fences. They find shelter wherever.
The pasture method. You pick a fairly big area and you fence it in. You add a pig waterer. You don’t necessarily need a food trough. You can make paddocks if you like, so you can rotate your pig to different areas. I’ll get into this more in a bit.
There might be other ways of managing your pig space, but these three are the most common. Let’s get into the pros and cons of each method.
I’ll pick on the free range method first. Frankly, I’m jealous of those who can use this method. It means that they either have their whole property fenced or a lot of property or no neighbors to offend. The only time I would not use this method even if I could would be reason 3, land improvement. In that case, I would want to focus the pigs in specific areas. This method is great if you have a lot of land. You probably won’t have to worry about issues like worms, except for when you bring new animals in. Your infrastructure cost will be low, because there’s no fencing or little fencing cost. You’ll probably want to keep a piglet penned up for a week until it knows where home is. After that, no pen required. Your pig gets to roam around. Exercise is good for pork. It gives texture to the meat, which is very much lacking in store pork. It may take a little more effort to finish your pig—that extra bit of fat takes longer to happen since your pig is walking around so much.
If you’re keeping notes, you might want to mark down whether or not free range is for you.
Let’s look at the 4H method. You’re probably considering this if you don’t have a lot of land (less than an acre) or you have a lot of predators. By the way, I have predators in my area—cougar, coyote and even wolf. I don’t have a lot of pressure from predators though. I have yet to have my pigs bothered by anything other than the neighbor’s dog.
A friend of mine lives in Montana. She has issues with bears and wolves coming on her property. In her case, the animals need to stay close where they can be monitored and protected.
The good news about the
Pig Talk Episode 3, Pig Perception
Today, I want to lay the groundwork for bringing your first pigs to their new home. We’re going to talk about moving pigs. I also have some recommendations about when NOT to move a pig. We’re also going to talk about the way pigs perceive everything around them. Trust me, their perception is tied to how you successfully move them (or not).
Let’s talk about moving pigs. There are three main types of pig moves.
The first is the piglet move. This is easy. You can bring a piglet home in a pet carrier in your Honda. We’ve done it at least four times. This method leads to some great anecdotes and your vehicle will never be the same. I highly recommend driving a piglet six hours in a car with a pig.
You might be wondering how you get a piglet into a pet carrier. To maneuver the piglet, you must catch it. Ah, this can be very entertaining. It’s best not to wear clothes that you care about. Piglets are fast and squirmy and chances are you’re going to go to your knees a few times until you are proficient at catching them. Piglets are picked up by their hind legs, and the hind legs are a good place to try grabbing them. Hopefully your piglets are in a small area. If they aren’t, you’re going to have to try things like luring them close with treats. It’s to be noted that piglets don’t like being picked up, even if you cuddle them. Expect screaming and flailing. Feed them gently, head and front feet first into your pet carrier.
Piglets aren’t very good at keeping their body heat regulated. That’s one reason for the straw you’re going to include in the carrier. Moving them is stressful and an opportunity to catch pneumonia if it’s cool. Pigs, even big ones, have trouble keeping cool when the weather is warm. An 80 degree day can have them panting and seeking shade. A road trip in the heat can be a recipe for disaster. Part of the reason piglets get transported in our Honda is that we can run the heat or the air conditioner as needed.
Here’s a side note. Your footwear can carry disease. Think about wearing shoes/boots that are just for your pig area. Be religious about not wearing them anywhere else. There are some really bad bugs out there, like the Porcine Epidemic Diarhea virus.
At a certain age, a piglet gets too big to fit in the carrier that will fit in your car. Also, you have to haul more than one piglet. This leads us to the second type of pig move. This is for moving several small piglets or a piglet that you can just barely pick up. At this point, we use a wire dog crate that goes in the back of a pickup. We put straw in the crate and make sure that the piglets aren’t exposed to wind. Hopefully there’s a topper on the back of the pickup. Otherwise, a tarp can be used as long as the weather isn’t too cold. This is important because the straw can blow into their eyes and do some damage. I don’t recommend letting piglets run around loose in the bed of a pickup, even if it has a topper. There’s a lot of room in the bed of a pickup and that means the pigs can slide around and get hurt.
The third method is a trailer. We use this once a pig is 3 months old or older. I recommend a trailer that has windows or lots of slats to let in light. More about this later. An eight foot by six foot area is enough for a year old pig or bigger. Choose your trailer accordingly. Our trailer can be pulled as a gooseneck or bumper pulled. Its walls are slats and bars, letting in plenty of light. The problem with our trailer is that it’s too small for more than one really big pig. More would fit in, but it would be very hard to load them.
Remember that pigs are not good climbers when they are calm. Your trailer needs to be easy for them to step into and out of. Trailers that tilt are great. Tilting the trailer lowers the back end and makes it easier for the pigs to enter. The problem with trailers that tilt is that they are usually small.
I do not recommend
Pig Talk Episode 2, General Pig Types to Consider
Hey, thanks for coming back for seconds! Welcome to the second episode of Pig Talk with Jeremey Weeks. That’s me by the way.
Before we begin, let’s knock out some administrative stuff. I’m sure that you have comments regarding the earlier podcast. I’ve put together a website that contains podcast notes. The notes aren’t anything different than what you’re listening to, but sometimes reading makes things clearer. I may refer to pictures or diagrams from time to time. You’ll find the notes, links, pictures etc, at pig talk with Jeremey dot com. My name, Jeremey is spelled differently than normal. It’s J E R E M E Y—there are three E’s in my name. Another way to reach me is on Facebook I’m in a group call PacificNW Pigs. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the Northwest or not, we’ll take you as long as you talk about pigs and you play nicely with others. You can also reach me by snail mail. Please address any correspondence to Jeremey Weeks, P.O. Box 22, Ford, WA 99013 (repeat)
I also want to take a second to mention the breeders map and list. I definitely want to hear from you if you sell pigs. I don’t care how big or small your operation is. I have a map of the United States that shows pig breeders and I want you on it. I don’t care if you live outside the U.S. by the way—I’ll put you on the map if I have to use GPS coordinates. I also have a list of breeders that goes by the breed of pig. I think the list is more valuable than the map, because people will travel a long way for a breed that they want.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that I want to hear from those of you that are selling pigs.
OK, time for the first part of the podcast. This is for those of you that are planning to have pigs.
I want to give a brief introduction to pigs. Hopefully you planners have your notepads ready because we’re going to look at what type of pigs will meet your goals. This isn’t going to be the definitive guide to pigs. I’m going to lay down some generalities about pigs that we can build on.
I’m also going to get into the planning that needs to be done before the first piglet arrives. There’s going to be some Do’s and Don’ts that will save you a lot of pain. I’ll put in some anecdotes--sometimes real world experience can put a principle in focus.
So, let’s talk about pigs!
The old school says that there are two kinds of pigs. There are bacon pigs and lard pigs. I’m going to tune those types a bit and then add another category. There are meat pigs, lard pigs and niche pigs.
I also divide meat pigs into two subcategories. The first are the bacon/pork chop pigs and the second are the ham pigs. More about them in a bit.
I also break the niche pigs into several groupings. The first group would be the pet breeds. The second group is a group of unrelated breeds that fulfill a special want, need or fad.
Pets Let’s talk about pet pigs first. We’re going to address two different goals with pet pigs. First, despite all the things I said in the last podcast, pigs can make good pets. You can also make a lot of money selling pet piglets. Aye . Lot . Of . Money . I’m thinking of Juliana pigs especially. These are miniature pigs and tend to be the ones you see in calendar pictures and memes. This is the only pig I would consider for indoor living.
Outdoor pets include breeds like Kunekunes and Potbellied pigs, though Potbellies don’t bring a commanding price. These pigs are relatively easy to sell in the spring as piglets, but not so easy at other times.
If your goal is to have a pet pig or to make money selling pigs, this might be your game. These pigs can be spendy. You might have to pay $3,000 for a breeding pair of Julianas.They also tend to have more health issues than mid-size and large pigs.
Other niche pigs. These pigs have some special characteristic or behavior that makes them desirable. Kunekunes are also an example of a niche pig. They
Pig Talk Episode 1 Intro, Reasons to have pigs or not, Selenium
This podcast is going to have two threads. One thread will be for people who are thinking about or planning on having pigs. The second thread is for the ones who already have pigs. I’m going to do my best to have something for everyone in each episode.
Episode I.I Methods
There’s going to be a lot of general information about pigs on this podcast. This is stuff that is true about pigs no matter where you live. Fencing options, nutrition, farrowing, diseases, all that good stuff.
I’m also going to be talking about the way I do things versus others’ methods. Rarely do we face the same challenges. Climate and weather are just a couple examples of why my system might be different than what works for someone else.
For example, I raise my pigs on a pasture model. This works well for me. It doesn’t work well for a Montana breeder who has to deal with grizzly bears, wolves and cougars.
Another example, Walter Jeffries, probably the most famous pig person on the Internet, lives in Vermont. His area gets about 35 inches of rain and over 66 inches of snow in a year. I receive about 17.6 inches of rain and 10.7 inches of snow. My July high temperature is in the 100+ degrees. Walter’s is about 80 degrees. Walter gets to do some things on pasture that I can’t unless I irrigate. On the other hand, I don’t have to deal with several feet of snow in the winter.
So, some of this stuff is going to be valuable. Sometimes you’re going to shake your head.
I’m going to talk about how to plan build your farm from an engineer’s perspective. We’re going to look at saving time versus saving money versus quality. This affects every part of your operation. The design or lack of planning you use will create the shape of your farm. Let’s say you wanted to build cars. You can build a lot really quickly, you can build high quality cars or you can build cars relatively cheaply. What you can’t do is build a lot of high quality cars really cheaply. At best, you are only going to get two out of three. To build high quality cars quickly, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money. If you don’t spend the money, you won’t get a lot built, or if you do, they’ll be shoddy. The same goes for farming and raising pigs. You’ll always fight money vs time vs quality.
A note of caution: There’s going to be some topics related to breeding, digestion, etc. that are going to get earthy. I don’t aim to be deliberately offensive. My speech regarding these topics may be a little cavalier for some. Something to keep in mind when speaking to other people about pigs is that most have a different perspective about things. Reproduction is a very important subject but at the same time there isn’t the shame/veneration when talking about it. This can be shocking.
Also, there are going to be opinions that you don’t agree with. I’m going to interview people that you may not like. I’m also going to say things that are critical. For example, I don’t like the traditional 4H model for raising pigs. I’m not sure if it’s different now, but the model I’ve seen is not pig friendly.
It’s going to take a few recordings for me to get comfortable and work out all the kinks. Please hang in there with me while I figure out what I’m doing.
I hope you keep listening.
Episode I.II To have pigs or not to have pigs, that is the question!
Why have pigs?
Why am I asking this question? Because it’s important. You have to identify your reasons for raising pigs. Your reasons will determine the breeds that you will buy. I recommend that you get out a notepad and write down your reasons for considering pigs.
Reason #1. You want a hobby. Maybe you’ve been raising chickens and you want to diversify, go to the next level. Pigs are a great choice. They are very hardy. They’re easier to keep alive than goats, sheep, horses or cattle. There are no hooves that need trimming and no fleece that needs to be shorn. Mastitis is rar