One of the best things about raising pigs is that they really don’t need all that much equipment! You can get started with a few basic items that, once you have purchased them, can be used for many batches of pigs.
Here are the four things you’ll need to get started.
To raise pigs you need a secure place to put them (pen or pasture), a feeder, a waterer and a sorting board.
Your pigs will need to be contained in either a fence or a pen
First off, you need to have a place to put your pigs!
Pigs need a secure pen or fence with plenty of room to exercise and root.
A pig pen can be easily made from hog panels and T posts
If you are going the pen route, you can use hog panels and T posts and make a pretty secure pen. 4 hog panels and 8 T posts should do it, at least for a start.
Farm stores like TSC, as well as DIY stores, like Lowe’s or Home Depot will have hog panels and T posts. Lots of people use these for outdoor projects so they are not hard to find.
If the pigs need more space, you can always make the pen bigger with more panels. How Much Space Do Pigs Need? is an article I wrote going over the area needed for pigs, both indoors and out.
When your pigs are smaller, they are less capable. Nearly anything that has small openings will hold them.
As they get bigger, your pigs can now push or dig their way out of a pen, if you don’t keep an eye on the panels. When you notice a weak spot, all you have to do is reposition the posts.
I like to use pipe gates for pens on concrete, since they are rigid, but they are more expensive and small piglets can slip out through the pipes.
Make sure your pigs have plenty of bedding
Make sure you have plenty of bedding for your pigs. Pigs love to root around through the bedding.
A deeply bedded pack will keep all of the nutrients from the manure “locked up” rather than leaching away, wasted. Think of the bedding like a diaper.
Pigs Don’t Need To Stink! is an article I wrote about keeping your pigs happy and you and your neighbors happy by controlling the manure smell. Spoiler alert: ample bedding is the key!
Most pigs raised outside will be contained with electric fence
If you are going to have your pigs outside, in the woods or on pasture, you’ll need shade and to get a fencer and some electric fence, either netting or wire. The shade can be anything, trees, a roof, or a tarp, whichever works for you.
Actually, I just ordered a fencer from Premier 1 for my pigs and some polybraid to use as the fence line to put a two of my due soon sows on pasture.
I chose a Speedrite fencer, since it can be run off of a battery or plugged in. I got the polybraid, instead of twine, because it is less likely to snag and will last longer than the other, thinner polywires.
I have not used netting for pigs, only wire for larger pigs. The smaller piglets will just run right under the fence, so have a plan for containment when you first get your feeder pigs!
The best bet is to start them in a hog panel pen then transition them to an electric fence.
To be clear, your pigs will be fine staying behind a woven wire fence or just hog panels for a while, until they get big enough to start digging or pushing out. The purpose of the electric wire is to keep the pigs off of the fence!
Pigs need feed, even when they are foraging
There is a common misconception about raising pigs outside (either in the woods or on pasture), that pigs do not need feed if they can get some food for themselves. This is false!
Your pigs need feed, the pasture is just a snack! Growing pigs, from feeders to finished, can get up to 30% of their diet from forages. That’s great for them and you, it saves you money on feed!
What’s The Best Thing To Feed Pigs? is an article I wrote to go over your feed options.
In case you are wondering, you can keep the bags of feed in a stack, away from the edge of the pen, so the pigs can’t reach through and rip bags, or put all of the feed in the feeder at once. Most folks do not have separate feed storage.
Can Pigs Live On Grass Alone? is an article I wrote explaining all of the details of why pigs need more than just forages.
If you stop and think about it, that’s 30% less feed, which leaves 70% of your pig’s calorie needs having to come from feed. Sows are better, they can get 50% of their diet from forage, leaving 50% to come from feed.
Don’t get me wrong, having pigs outside is great for them. Pigs to be out and about exploring and rooting! But the still need to get the majority of their diet from feed, in order to grow to their potential.
Have a large capacity waterer for your pigs
Use a pig waterer that can hold a few days worth of water for your pigs.
The biggest time saver you can get for your pigs is a large capacity (50 gallons +) waterer. Your pigs will relentlessly spill water if they can, that’s a lot of toting water for you!
The best bet for watering pigs is to use a nipple valve or cup valve put into a 55 gallon plastic barrel. You can find plans online, they are easy to put together with minimal tools.
This will get you started with minimal cost and hold enough water that you will only have to refill it every few days, even when the pigs are bigger.
Daily drinking water needs for pigs range from less than 0.5 gal/ pig/day for newly weaned pigs to greater than 1.5 gal/pig/day for grow-finish pigs using nipple drinkers in warm conditions. Grow-finish pigs using bowl/cup drinkers or wet/dry feeders use less water, generally averaging just over 1.0 gal/pig/day.https://www.thepigsite.com/articles/patterns-of-drinking-water-use
Pigs can use a waterer, a drinker or pans
If you are willing to order or buy a waterer that is more of a time saver, get one that is hooked up directly to a hose. There are homemade options as well as drinkers available for purchase.
Waterers are made to be permanently installed in a building or a concrete pad. A drinker is portable.
When you are looking up the drinkers to buy, be sure to type in hog “drinker” not waterer. The drinker is a barrel type waterer that is made to go out in the field, but can be used inside, as well.
It can be tempting to just water your pigs in pans, like the black rubber feed pans, it would certainly be less expensive than buying a waterer! But…your porkers will have you refilling their water constantly! Pigs are ace water spillers.
Have a bulk feeder for your pigs
If you have your pigs on all they can eat feed, having a bulk feeder will make your life easier. Pigs on a special diet, like show pigs, may be limit fed, but most people would be free choice feeding their pigs with a bulk feeder.
A bulk feeder allows you to fill up the feeder once every few days to a week, while giving the pigs the option to eat anytime they want to.
A bulk feeder will work with pelleted feed or ground feed, whichever is your preference.
You can get a gravity flow or a wheel type pig feeder
I have used the gravity flow feeders as well as the wheel type feeders, both work well. I would go with the one you can get in your area.
My preference, so far, is for the wheel type feeder. I just got one this spring, used, and have a few feeder pigs using it right now. They seem to like it and spill less feed than a gravity flow feeder.
I have to admit, I got my wheel feeder used with a bunch of other small farmer type hog items, so it was a great deal for me. If I had to buy a feeder new, I’d go with the one that was easy to get.
The only down side I see so far is the wheel feeder is a floor model, not wall mounted, so if you have limited space for your pigs and need a feeder attached to the wall, you’ll need to go with the gravity flow.
A final note, if your pigs are outside, you’ll need to have a lid for the feeder! If rain gets down in the feed and feeder, you’ll have to dig it out by hand, since the feed has to be dry to flow out correctly.
If you don’t dig it out, the wet feed will get stinky and moldy, not good. It’s easier to prevent the problem than fix it.
Get a sorting board for each person who is handling pigs
A sorting board is an extra, it’s not strictly needed to raise pigs. We use ours for pigs of all sizes, from piglets up to the boar.
We went for years without one, but now that I have it, I’m definitely a fan and wondering how I went without for all this time!
We always used a piece of plywood to move pigs, it’s hard to handle and heavy, at least for me. The sorting board is wonderful, I use it all the time!
I have to admit, since the sorting board is for frequently moving pigs, if you are not moving pigs, you don’t really need one.
If you don’t have a sorting board, plan what you want the pigs to do and you can usually lure them to a new spot with feed, bribery works! But it might take a while.
But if you are moving your pigs, especially if you don’t want to wait forever for them to feel like going where you want them to, consider getting a sorting board or two.
Be on the look out for used pig equipment
Used pig equipment in good condition is frequently available for sale.
Keep watch online, I’ve had good luck on Craigslist, to see what folks in your area are wanting to sell.
Lots of people get into pigs, especially for kids in 4-H or FFA then the kids grow up or lose interest and these folks have extra pig equipment sitting around collecting dust.
As I’ve mentioned before, pig equipment is made to last. Once you buy something for your pigs, you’ll have it for years.
This is true for others who needed the equipment but now don’t, often times they just want it gone. Great news for you, if you are willing to scout around and see what you can find a few months before you get your pigs.