Hi Fellow Farmsteaders,
We were initially very hesitant to get pigs however we all enjoy pork and really wanted our own quality pork. After over a year raising pigs we have certainly learnt a lot and very quickly fell in love with these quirky animals.
We purchased 4 pigs off a local farmer who raises them and butchers them for his family. We went over there and had a look at his setup and asked lots of questions. He was raising them in a confined pen but we still were given lots of information about breeding, feeding etc. We had read this post about training piglets to electric fence and had a system set up with colourbond on 2 sides and an electric fence at the front to train them. The farmer dropped off our 4 piglets and we started our journey of raising pigs.
At first the pigs seemed to stay in with the electric fence but after a couple of weeks we
had them starting to run through. As they were quite small they used to simply bolt through the wires and were too quick to get zapped. So we then moved them into the poultry netting with our ducks and they stayed in perfectly. They did enjoy chasing the ducks around a little too much. Maybe that’s why our egg production dropped off.
Shelter, Waterer and Feed
Their shelter initially was an IBC that we had cut the top off and turned on its side. As they were young and quite small, 4 pigs easily fitted in and enjoyed their straw bed. We had wired to the side a gravity feed pig waterer that they simply push with their snout to get water. I used to simply roll the IBC end to end to move it into their next paddock. It was a good workout if you had to go long distances. As we were trying to keep our feed costs low our pigs have been raised almost exclusively on feed scraps. We did supplement their feed a little bit with bran as they got bigger. We collect feed scraps from a supermarket and pick it up twice weekly. It did however mean that the pigs grew slower than if raised exclusively on pig pellets.
Butchering our Pig
We butchered our first pig in November 2017. After watching a lot of you tube videos and feeling very nervous a butcher friend came over and helped us shoot and hang the pig. After it had hung overnight we perpared to cut it up into the variuous parts. We had watched youtube videos about how to do it and were ready to follow along but in the morning our internet went down and we had to keep waiting for it to load. But eventually we got the pig packaged and cyrovaced.
Adapting the System
After a little while we thought it would be good to kill all but 1 pig and then buy a boar so
we could have some piglets. We sourced a boar off a friend in Grafton and transported it up to our property. We initially kept him separate as he was so small but after a little while we moved him into the main pig pen. The pigs were still in the poultry netting but shortly afterwards we moved them back into a stranded electric fence. We found that with sturdy corner posts and a 3-strand fence they stayed in relatively well unless we were really late in bringing food up to them. Because our boar matured earlier than we thought we now have 3 female pigs possibly with piglets. We may soon be overrun with adorable piglets. I suppose its better than rats and mice.
One thing that caught us by surprise when we started raising pigs was just how much
personality pigs have and how easy it is to grow attached to them. We did name our pigs but we kept them food-related. So we had Ham, Bacon, Salt and Pepper. Overall we have enjoyed raising pigs through all the ups and downs.
Farewell Fellow Farmsteaders