Thursday, June 9, 2011

Practical Pig Keeping for Beginners - Feed and Fencing Tips

I thought I would cover a morning feed and make notes of any useful tips for you. In relation to food there are generally 3 types for the 3 stages your weaner passes through to him finishing.
Sow and Weaner - whilst he is with mum
Grower - when you get him
Finisher - from about 15 weeks
I would visit your local agricultural supplier before your pigs arrive to let him know you are soon to be customers and tell him to order in the food you want.

You can buy a really nice shiny food storage bin to keep your pig feed in but I simply use a dustbin. It holds about 2 bags of food at a time and I have had no problems with this. I would say a plastic bin is better than a metal bin simply because in the winter months you don't want the lid to be frozen on the bin - things need to be as easy as possible during those freezing cold months so for me plastic is best. I keep my feed bins inside the pony's shelter which is close to the pig area but if your pigs are not close to a shelter then I would move the feed bin close to their pen again for your own benefit. In summer it makes no difference but in the cold wet and snowy mornings it helps and makes life easier.

Feedtime Helper
Buy a couple of plastic scoops just in case like me you empty a new bag of feed straight into the bin and then before you realise it your one and only scoop has been covered with 25kg pig food so two are handy!

Fasten your dustbin lid onto the top of the bin with an elastic rope which hooks through the handle on one side of the bin, through the handle on the lid and then down through the handle on the other side of the bin. From experience when the lid blows off in a gale and flies down the field its no fun going getting it back - that's if you manage to find it at all! If this happens during the night and your feed gets soaked and ruined - this is even worse so its a little trick to keep the food safe.

Get a couple of heavy rubber wide rimmed feed buckets with handles not too big that they may get their feet caught in. This will be cheaper to start with than a galvanised trough and you may find this method suits you and then you have saved yourself a bit of cash. The pigs may play with these after eating the contents but if you get the thick rubbery ones and not plastic they will not do too much harm.

Keep a couple of pen knives in separate handy places near the feed bins so when you have carried the food over to them you have some way of opening the feed backs without having to go back to the house.

A torch is handy - a specific pig keeping one in a place you know - not the household torch you can never find when you want it.

Fencing Tips

Any gates you put into the fencing opt for the fasteners that open by pulling the clasp rather than just a single bolt.  It will drive you mad otherwise in winter if its is frozen especially if you are loaded up with feed buckets! I have taken a photo of the fittings I use which work well.

Gate Fastener
Minnie is also in most of these photos! I have also taken a photo of the fencing section which shows you exactly how I fasten the netting to the post and you can also see the barbed wire that runs along the ground to stop the pigs getting their snouts under.

Barbed Wire and Post fixing
This photo shows the barbed wire running along the top to keep Loonpot Libby at bay. This is not for the pigs benefit just simply to keep the pony away so if your don't have any other animals then this may not be necessary.
Top Roll of  Barbed Wire and Libby

Here is the water system that I have put in between the two pig areas. It has an overflow pipe at the back which runs back into the stream.

Other items which you may think you will need:

Slap boards and sticks - not unless you want to show your pig. They do come in handy when moving pigs but to be honest I have always took my time and walked the pigs on to the trailer with a bucket of food. So these are not really needed.

Your pigs will need to be tagged with your pig mark when they go for slaughter - I will cover this when I have to do mine but if you are a small pig keeper like me all you need to buy from your animal supplier are some metal ear tags and a pair of tagging pliers.

Ear notchers, slappers and paste, tattoo pliers, teeth cutters, tail dockers, nose rings - you will not need any of these.

Last but not least as I have found out very recently it is a good idea to transport your pigs in a trailer. Get a good second hand one - there are lots about just shop around.

Guide Price for Equipment
Pigs x 2 £30 each
Pig Arc - £300
Hay bales - £2-3
Feed Trough - £30 (2 x rubber buckets £7)
Drink Trough £30
Pig Board £30 - not needed in my opinion
Pig Pliers and tags £20 plus 60p per tag


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