Friday, June 10, 2011

Practical Pig Keeping for Beginners - Pig Area and Water

I just had one last thing to mention about the area that you finally decide your pig pen will go.


Please make sure this has accessible water running easily to it and when it is time to load the pigs for slaughter that you can get them into a contained area straight from the pen where the trailer can easily be backed into for loading without escapees!


I cannot stress this enough and I talk from experience.


When a friend first spoke to me about keeping rare breed pigs it seemed to be relatively easy to start - a bit of physical preparation work but after that it seemed simple and enjoyable. This is true if you listen to those that have done it before and got it right. Unfortunately I thought I knew best having  never kept a pig before, and set off full of enthusiasm to the agricultural suppliers, got all my posts and netting and set about putting the posts in the ground. I  chose an area on the opposite side of the field to where the pigs live now. I knew it had no water running to this patch but thought I would be able to bring them two buckets a day without it being a problem or run a hose pipe from the garden to the pigs and simply fill the buckets up and carry them in. In reality I chose this side of the field because it suited me better than it did them. Once the fencing was finished and the pigs moved in I think I lasted about a week  carrying two buckets of water down the slope to them twice a day. Then I decided to run a hose pipe which did not work as well as I imagined it to because the pressure of the water  that eventually came out after it had traveled so far was poor and they took ages to fill. 
I got frustrated so quickly with the whole thing because I knew this set up was never going to work. 


I began the task of starting to build a whole new pig area over the other side of the field which was located right next to the stream which would provide a constant source of water to them quite easily. This made life so much easier and enjoyable.


Another problem I encountered in the early days was that my pig area worked but there was an open space of about 300 yards that I had to somehow manage to convince the pigs to walk up without running off when it was time to load them on the journey to the abattoir. It was never easy. In fact it was a nightmare. I even tried to take the trailer over to them but I got the trailer stuck on the hill which made me even more stressed and fed up that it all seemed like too much trouble. I was always asking others for help to load and unload - or pull my stuck trailer out of my field with their tractor and because I do the farming by myself I knew if I was going to start enjoying this new hobby or in fact succeeding at it I would have to think very seriously about the planning of my field and making the system work for me.


I now have a system that works whereby I can bring the pigs to the gate and unload very easily on my own. I can take them through a shelter which has 2 pens that I can hold them in if necessary or treat them if they are sick or just need worming. This leads out into the pathway that leads me and them straight to their gate and into their pens. Loading the pigs will be easy and more importantly stress free for the pigs when the time comes to load because it has been planned with all the things that did go wrong in mind.


I wanted to make a specific point that basically smallholding and farming animals is great fun when it works and so rewarding. The extra bit of planning will make the world of difference to your pig keeping which should not be stressful but fun.




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