Thinking about raising some pigs, but wondering if that’s a good idea?
Raising your own meat should be enjoyable! Are pigs going to be easy and simple to raise?
Pigs are easy to raise. Pigs:
- grow quickly
- eat commonly available feed
- daily care needs are simple
- are easy to find/purchase
- can be housed in simple to make pens of commonly available materials
Good news, pigs are the easiest larger meat animal to raise!
For a few months of minimal time on your part, caring for pigs is a simple start to get a freezer full of home grown meat!
If you want the full scoop on what you’re getting into with feed costs, look over my article outlining the costs of raising feeder pigs to butchering size.
Is Raising Your Own Pigs For Meat Worth It? gives you the specifics, budget wise, to calculate out if raising your own pork is worth it to you!
Pigs grow quickly
One of the main reasons that pigs are easy to raise is that they grow so quickly!
Your feeder pig that you bought when it was 50 pounds will reach over 250 pounds by the time it is 6 months old. Wow, that is some fast growth!
If you decide to put your pigs out on pasture, they will take a bit longer to reach butchering size. This is because when the pigs are on pasture they will be rooting and exploring, eating all manner of bugs and plants.
All of this activity takes more energy than going over to a feeder and eating ground feed. I think pigs are happier when they have pasture, but it does come at the cost of higher feed costs and a bit more time to raise them.
How To Use A Pig Sorting Board shows you what a sorting board is, how to use it and why you might consider getting one.
Pigs are easy to find
For most of the country, feeder pigs are easy to find. I’m sure in some areas finding your feeder pigs will be more challenging than others, but for the most part it is doable.
In our area, feeder pigs are easy to find. There is a feeder pig auction weekly and usually a few ads online.
If you are in an area with less pigs here are some suggestions to get you started. Check out the market report for the closest livestock auction.
Look around online marketplaces to see what you can find. Put up a wanted posting online. You’ll find some.
Check out my article on Where To Buy Feeder Pigs if you need some guidelines and tips to get you started.
Pigs can eat a variety of foods
Pigs can are built to eat a variety of foods, since they are omnivores.
The most economical way to feed your pigs is to give them a ground feed that you buy in 100 pound bags from a feed mill. The 50 pound sacks with nice pictures are more money per pound.
If you don’t have a feed mill close to you, you can mix your own feed with cracked corn, soybean meal and livestock mineral.
From what I have seen, the feed mill (if you have the option) is always a much better price than self made.
You’ll need to do the math for your area to see which is a better option for you. Here is an article I wrote walking you through figuring feed costs for feeder pigs. Check it out, it’s pretty easy math once you get the basic idea.
Options of what your pigs can eat
The crazy part about pigs is how versatile they are in their eating! As far as digestion goes, pigs are very similar to you in what they can naturally eat.
Vegetables from the garden, or someone else’s dinged up or overripe produce, unsold bread from the bakeries, weeds that are in the flower beds all are possible sources of food for your feeder pigs.
Especially if you are a gardener, consider getting your pigs a bit later in the year.
This way the pigs are able to eat all of the left overs or “it got away from me” type produce like baseball bat size zucchini! Or just the normal extra that you don’t eat, like the cobs from your sweet corn or the peels of beets.
Don’t count on vegetables being a large portion of your feeder pigs’ diet, unless you have access to an incredible amount of them!
Even so, have feed available to your pigs so they can choose the best mix of feed and veg for the day.
If you want to raise pigs without ground feed, check out Sugar Mountain Farm. They are in Vermont and feed quite a few pigs with no grain.
All of the pen materials needed for your pig are multi purpose
Any materials that you would need to purchase for your pigs are easy to find, multi purpose items that will be available at any farm store.
Your local gardening buddies will probably be using the same hog panels and T posts that you are. If you decide that pigs really aren’t for you there are tons of options for those panels and posts.
Even the shelter area you have for your pigs should serve multiple purposes, they don’t need a special building! If you have one, use it.
If not give the pigs something else too use for shade and wind protection.
My feeder pigs right now are outside in an overgrown spot of the yard. They are kept in with hog panels (shown in the picture above) and T posts and I have a wagon parked in there for shade.
Use whatever you have for the shade, no need to get complicated. Anything they can get under will work fine.
Pigs are easy to care for
Pigs are ideal for a family that wants to raise their own meat, but does not want to stay at home babysitting the animals!
Pigs are easy to feed and check on, easy for you or the person helping you out when you leave for the weekend!
How To Naturally Raise Pigs gives you the basics of how to raise happy pigs.
Once you get your pig pen set up, they are easy to care for in just minutes per day. All your pigs need is to have their food and water checked and to have shade available.
If you decide to keep your pigs on pasture, they will need to be checked a couple times a day, but that’s it.
Please remember the shade part here, pigs will need shelter from the heat! Also, you’ll need a lid on your bulk feeder, if it is outside, too!
Feed and water can both be easily done in bulk, meaning you’ll need to monitor daily, but not handle the refills daily.
The easiest way to handle the water is to have a nipple on a pipe fed by a hose or in a water barrel. Sure you’ll need to keep track of the water level and refill once in a while, but overall, you just give the water a glance and call it good.
The easiest way to handle feeding your pigs is to have some sort of bulk feeder. You can build these feeders yourself or buy them new or used.
The feeder will be a significant outlay of cash, especially if you buy it new, but you’ll be able to use it forever.
Pig equipment is made to last. We have a 13 hole 3 ton feeder that we bought used over 25 years ago. Still works great!
If you aren’t wanting to buy a feeder just now, you can make a trough out of a cut off plastic barrel that you support with wooden sides and legs. Or, for anyone with carpentry skills, you can make a wooden trough.
You can feed them on the ground, but they will waste feed!
It’s normal for pigs to waste some feed, putting the feed on the ground to start with will have them wasting more (and costing you more) than normal.
You can pan feed small groups of pigs
I like to feed smaller groups of pigs in the black rubber feed pans. These are around $10 and will easily hold the feed for your 2-3 pigs for the day.
You’ll need to feed twice a day with this small of a pan, but if it’s what you’ve got, it’s what you use!
The only downsides to smaller or homemade feeders are that the pigs can tip them and you’ll need to feed at least twice per day when the pigs get bigger.
Watch online ads for nice used pig feeders
I got a bunch of nice, used pig feeders this spring. A gentleman was selling out of his equipment, since he had already sold the pigs.
Pig Equipment You Need shows you the few things that will make your pigs easier to raise.
I bought three feeders, four heavy metal trough feeders, a bunch of rubber pans and a bug zapper all for $200. Nice!
Until I found these feeders, I was feeding piglets in pans until they were big enough for the 3 ton bulk feeder I have. These feeders, especially the small wheel type feeder are handy and are saving me feed!
The bedding you put into the pen initially should only need occasionally touched up by adding more volume.
Your time spent caring for your pigs will be in keeping the feeder full, as they get bigger they eat more, and keeping them supplied with water that they don’t spill! Pigs are notorious water spillers!
Keep the feeder full and get the water figured out and pigs are easy!
Pork Production: Farrow To Finish gives a nice overview of the time table for a piglet to go from birth to butcher ready, from the American Meat Science Association.
If you keep your pigs on pasture or give them lots of alternative feeds, they will take longer than this, but it’s the same idea, just stretched out over another month or so.