Pig keeping

If you keep other animals for productive purposes, whether for meat, wool or bi-products, here's the area to chat. I mean, you do realise chickens are the gateway drug to other animals, don't you?

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Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 27 Aug 2012, 16:26

Now I don't know how many of you keep pigs on here but how easy is it to keep say 2-3 free range sows? Do they need any maintenance foods or ought over the summer if on grass? I know the fencing needs to be good & their better on rough ground, & also their a bugger to try & herd - we used to have some in sty's years ago but were thinking of poss doing free range with the above number of sows to get in pig twice a year each maybe so we'd have a constant supply of pigs for slaughter & a few for the freezer as well - without being too inundated.

Also would a boar & poss an extra sow be beneficial? as I know 2 people who have a boar & rotate the sows around him approx every 8 weeks so he's never lonely, although hes in a separate pen, there's a sow either in pig or with a litter & 2 having a rest & are together & in visable pens next to the sow in pig or with the litter, its just would that set up be better than taking sows to a boar on their own all of the time as the above set up does allow around about 2 litters a year x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Gilly C » 27 Aug 2012, 22:19

there were free ranging gos near us in the lakes they had the sows piglets and boars all running together ! I love pig and often stopped to look at them seemed to be the same year round lots of shelters and tiny piglets up to full grown all mixed up !
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby tweedy » 28 Aug 2012, 11:13

Bring a boar in when required less hassle.
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 09 Dec 2012, 17:19

We keep a couple of Large Black / Saddleback cross sows on grass (mud!) and even though they are great foragers they need a maintenance ration of sow rolls throughout the year. Since they are a large breed we expect them to go through literally a ton of feed each a year and that adds up to quite a a bit of money. We don't keep a boar because it would become very frustrated only serving two sows twice a year and it would be another ton of feed to buy. A.I. is relatively easy with pigs, its inexpensive, convenient and above all you can move the gene pool around whenever you need to with ease. It also avoids all of the pig movement rules if you were to bring in a boar or send you sows out to be serviced. Hope that helps.
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 09 Dec 2012, 22:21

Ah ok that's brilliant thanks by a couple do you mean 2 or 3 sorry its just I'm trying to weigh up feed costs in my head as its what we average with the sheep & cattle per head as well - if we were to get pigs we have old stys but would probs free range them now as the sty's need work & a lot of it but we'd probs keep say 4-5 sows so we would supply us & our uncle & also sell to a few local butchers would that be enough girls to satisfy a boar also I think consumption wise as there's 7 of us at present including my uncle we'd probs go through 2-3 pigs a year (approx the same as lamb for the freezer) :grin: x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 10 Dec 2012, 08:45

Just two sows called Maude and Mabel. We pay about £8.50 for a 25Kg bag of sow rolls and they go through 40 of those each a year. That's £680.00 plus weaner pellets and rolls for their offspring upto kill wheight. Don't forget it's against the law to feed kitchen scraps and the inspectors are very hot on it. We do add potatoes and eggs if we have spare as a treat. Don't be tempted to feed straights like wheat or barley because they don't contain enough Lycene which promotes muscle growth and end you'll end up with a very fatty pig.

If you we're to have 20 piglets that should produce something in the region of 800 Kg of pork. That's a lot of sausages!

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Re: Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 10 Dec 2012, 10:47

Ah ok in winter could you feed things like turnips? & that's not too daunting to be honest as we probably produce around 400-600 lambs & 50 cattle the majority of which go for slaughter & sale in local butcher shops (around 80%) we did do around that many pigs about 10 years ago so we're not total newcomers lol, ploverha how does that sow to boar ratio sound? x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 10 Dec 2012, 18:16

4-5 sows in rotation would keep a boar busy enough. It's 3 months, 3weeks and 3 days gestation + 8 weeks weaning and then it's back to the boar. Always take the sow(s) to the boar or he'll spend the first week or so marking out his territory.

Since you keep sheep you should know that you shouldn't follow them onto land behind pigs because of copper levels.
White or red pigs kill out white where as black pigs don't, commercially you may want to stay away from black types as consumers aren't always happy with this sort of finish. Finally as you are obviously keen on a boar you need a good sound pig because its not uncommon for them to go off their legs and you're back to a lot of sausages and unserviced sows.

I'm rather enjoying this, anything else?
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 10 Dec 2012, 21:53

Ok so the ratios good I knew about the legs - how many years would you exspect from good breeding stock? as with the sheep & cattle we can tend to expect a good 5-10+ years off commercial & rare breeds so long as the cattle don't get the dreaded TB which luckily we've only gone down once with 1 cow 15 years ago & been clear ever since & our areas pretty free overall of it - but the welsh borders 20 mins away have always been rife :shock:

I didn't actually know the copper thing with pigs & sheep any idea why this is? but we normally had a few weaners & a few sows which we're taken to a boar & kept in large sty's, so we'd maybe consider a small yard or have a small separate field which has an old sty in it & maybe indoor house in winter in the barn/ old cattle sheds as we cant use some parts as we bring in our ewes & tups nightly from march- june for lambing & 300-400 take up quite a bit of barn space :lol:

What do you mean white & red pigs finish kill out as white whereas black don't do you mean with the skin color after taking off the hair & scalding? To be honest it doesn't really matter as I'm not after the so called "Commercial pig"as we had tamworths before & great whites which the great whites I like but not tamworths & worked with them before. Where I live the butchers we supply to pay more for slow grown rare breed british breeds & we're looking at stuff like gloucester old spot, oxford sandy & black, berkshires & english saddlebacks - any tips on any of those breeds for mothering, aggression & health ect x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 10 Dec 2012, 22:11

Also how do you find these breeds for farrowing or do they need much assistance or c sections? & also would you reccomend farrowing bars or what for farrowing? do you bring yours in for it or let them get on with it & if so with what sorts of methods how many offspring do you find get squashed or die early on? x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 10 Dec 2012, 22:36

You should get a good 5 to 8 years from the breeding sows but litter size will drop over time to a point where they wont be cost effective. Pig slurry over a field is copper rich and sheep are copper intolerant so copper toxicity can be a real problem. We had it drummed into us time and time again, don't follow pigs with sheep because of copper.

Yep after hair removal and scalding you will end up with a grey/black skin from a black pig, a Tamworth being red kills out white as do white pigs. All of the breeds you mentioned are good docile pigs and a good pointer for temperament is to go for a lop eared pig rather than a pricked ear breed. They say that the reduced vision slows them down and keeps them calm but even though our pigs have lop ears they can throw them back to have a good look at you. I'd rather not point you at a particular breed because everyone has their favourites for their own reasons. Our Large Blacks / Saddlebacks have very good foraging abilities which you mentioned in your first post. They are very hardy and disease resistant, good mothers and produce large litters. Those combinations ticked all the boxes for us.

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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 10 Dec 2012, 22:37

Oops, sorry that pic is a bit on the HUGE side. Sorry
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby Ploverha » 10 Dec 2012, 22:44

brooksidepoultry wrote:Also how do you find these breeds for farrowing or do they need much assistance or c sections? & also would you reccomend farrowing bars or what for farrowing? do you bring yours in for it or let them get on with it & if so with what sorts of methods how many offspring do you find get squashed or die early on? x


Farrowing bars are a must with a Large breed or you will lose a few. You do not want to get in there with them, even the most easy going sow can turn on you in that situation. For best results bring them in a week or so before confinement in a nice quiet stall give them enough straw to nest and then let them get on with it. Never tried farrowing outside but we've always been told that results will not be as good.
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby brooksidepoultry » 10 Dec 2012, 23:53

Ah ok I see the trouble with us is we have a river going through our land & the field I was thinking of is above it so that might be out of the question & we might have to build a small yard / enclosure, & yes I heard pigs could get very very nasty & I was suprised how quick they can run :shock: :shock: - to be honest we probably won't end up with a few for a couple of years yet - its just good to get some research in x
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Re: Pig keeping

Postby SnowFairy » 18 Jul 2013, 13:53

Pigs in Finland. We keep pigs only in summer time. We have 2-3 pigs every summer.

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Pig is hungry.

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Our pigs home.

We also have a miniature pig, Lilli-Putti:
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