When you are thinking about raising your own pork, you’ll see that one pig produces a lot of meat for the freezer. If you only need one pig’s worth of pork, can you raise just one pig?
Pigs need to be raised in groups of two, preferably three, pigs. Pigs are naturally a herd animal, they feel more secure and less stressed when raised in a peer group.
Is Raising A Pig For Meat Worth It? will help you figure out what you’ll need to spend to get your porkers to the freezer.
Pigs need to be raised in pairs or trios
Pigs should not be raised by themselves, they should be raised with other pigs, since they are naturally a herd animal.
Raising one pig at a time is keeping the pig in an unnatural situation that increases stress and decreases the happiness of your pig.
Getting a group of two or three feeder pigs to start with will give your pigs the opportunity to play and help them feel secure.
You can, technically, raise one pig by itself, but the problem is the pig doesn’t like it. Happy and healthy pigs are raised in groups.
Here’s an article on the Social Behavior of Swine written by veterinarians G. Landsberg and S. Deneberg, if you want to dig deeper.
Pigs learn from each other by copying
Additionally, pigs will learn to copy what the other pigs in their pen are doing. If one piglet heads to the feeder for a snack, the others will soon follow. This gets them eating more, which helps them grow faster.
This copying behavior will also come to your aid when you put in a new feeder or waterer that takes some work on the part of the piglets to figure it out.
For instance, if you have been using a pan to water your pigs and want to move them to a nipple waterer, it will take some investigation on their part to figure out the new way to get a drink.
More pigs means more little noses poking around making attempts to get the new water access working.
Feeders and waterers are same for group of pigs
An interesting thing about pig equipment, things like feeders and waterers, they are all built with a group of pigs in mind.
Any feeder or waterer you buy or make for your porkers will have been planned for feeding or watering more than one pig, since pigs are always raised in groups.
Even a “one hole” feeder is really made for two to three pigs to use it for the day. Since the feeder is full all day, the pigs can eat whenever they want to, so sharing a feeder works.
Space needs for two pigs is nearly the same as for one
The space needed around the waterer and feeder is about the same whether you are raising two or three pigs.
These areas, and nesting and manure areas, are all shared spaces. Meaning that when you add another piglet, you don’t have to add another feeder or waterer, they will all share.
I must admit, the exercise part of the pen would need to be a bit bigger, the more pigs you have per pen, but not much.
Read Space Needed To Raise Pigs to get all of the details on how to set up your pig’s living quarters.
Your time to care for pigs is the same for a small group
A final reason to always raise multiple pigs rather than one, is that the time to care for your pigs is the same. It will take you just as much time to look in on one pig as it does to look in on two or three pigs.
It’s true, you’ll need to refill the water and feed more frequently with three pigs versus one and you’ll need more bedding in total, but these are things you are checking anyway, no matter how many pigs you have.
The Best Feed For Pigs will go over your pig feed options and help you choose which feeding plan is best for your situation.
Sell your extra pig(s) to a friend or neighbor
So, now the quandary of what to do with your extra pig or pigs. You have options.
First off, put the word out, if you are interested in home raised pork, so are other people. See if you can sell your extra pig(s) to someone locally. Often, selling extra pigs will make the pig you keep very reasonably priced.
Selling your extras will not make you any more work, you’ll still need to set up a butchering appointment and arrange for a trailer for your pig, putting on one or two extra pigs will be just as easy.
If you are not into selling your extra pigs, have you considered putting both of them in your freezer? If you and your family eat a good amount of meat throughout the year, I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you end up using it.
Another option is to sell the extra pig at the auction. This is the least desirable option.
My guess is your feed costs are going to be higher than what you’ll get for the pig through the sale, but if you have a local auction, this is an option. I’d keep the pig for me before I would go this route.
Have your processing appointment set up before you buy the pigs
Please have your processing appointment set up before you buy your pigs! Processing appointments are hard to come by and if you get the pigs then call for the appointment, you’ll be in trouble.
I know this really is not what you asked, but since you are new, I feel obligated to mention this to you so it does not get overlooked or put off. I enjoy raising pigs and want you to have a great experience, as well.
You can butcher your pigs at home, have experienced help show you how
You can butcher your pigs at home, we do our freezer pigs ourselves, if you don’t want to have the expense of paying for processing.
It will take a noticeable investment in supplies if you want to do just as good of a job with the packaged cuts as your local butcher, but if you are okay with meat in plastic bags, butchering can be done with few extra tools.
If you decide to try home butchering, you’ll need butchering experience (deer hunters should be fine) and a loader that can handle the weight of the carcass.
If you are new to butchering, get someone with experience to help you.