Pigs Don’t Need To Stink! Raise Your Pigs Without The Smell


pig in straw bedding

Pigs are wonderful animals to have around, but they can get smelly if not raised correctly. Stinky pigs are the result of poor management practices. Your pigs don’t have to stink, pigs are easy to keep without the smell!

Pigs smell when they are raised with insufficient bedding materials. To keep the odor of pig manure under control, use plenty of bedding, adding more as needed, and give the pigs ample space to live in.

You can easily tell when your or your neighbor’s pig manure management is off, it stinks. Let’s talk about what you can do to keep your pig’s manure under control.

How To Naturally Raise Healthy Pigs gives you a list of the things your pigs need to be happy and healthy.

Bedding MaterialAmount needed per pigAmount to purchase
Straw, barley240 pounds 5 bales, 50 pounds each
Straw, oat180 pounds4 bales, 50 pounds each
Sawdust, pine200 pounds4 bags, 50 pounds each
Sawdust, hardwood335 pounds7 bags, 50 pounds each
Wood chips185 pounds4 bags, 50 pounds each
Amount needed per pig from Iowa State University Extension, amount to purchase calculated by author

When using the above chart, please note that you’ll need to start out with a foot or so of bedding materials like straw and around 6-8 inches of finer materials like sawdust.

You will also need to add bedding as your pigs grow. The most likely areas to need extra bedding are the dunging area and around the waterer and feeder. The “dirty” spots can be pitched out or just add more bedding on top.

Smelly pigs are caused by a lack of bedding

Pig manure smell is the result of too little bedding materials compared to the amount of pig manure.

Keeping up with bedding can get pushed aside for other more pressing needs, but never fear, this is a situation that can be salvaged.

If you notice you can smell your pig’s manure, you are late on adding bedding materials to the pen. The fix is easy, chuck in some straw!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It sounds simple because it is simple, it’s all about the bedding! Keeping plenty of bedding in with your pigs is the number 1 way to keep down odors.

I like to start with what seems to be a crazy amount of bedding (we use straw) in the pen to begin with and let the pigs play in the extra and push it around.

It works better for me to give big amounts of bedding every once in a while, rather than a smaller amount of bedding on a daily basis. Do whichever works for you. If you can’t smell poop, your management plan is working.

black gilts in straw
These are some gilts that I am keeping for potential breeding stock. Notice how well spread out the straw is? I didn’t do that, they did. This is the pen that I put the round bale into and let them spread it out. Good work, ladies!

Overcrowding pigs can result in smelly pens

Even if you put a huge amount of bedding into a small pen, you’ll have smelly pigs if the pen is too small of an area. This is called overcrowding.

When pigs are too tightly penned, you have way to many poopers compared to area and carbon based materials to absorb the poop and we are back to stinky pigs again.

Again, the answer is easy, make the pen bigger and add more bedding. You want your pigs to have plenty of space to eat, drink, poop, play and nest.

If the pen area is too small to allow for the full expression of all of these needs, you’ll have stinky pigs.

How Much Space Do Pigs Need? is an article I wrote that includes a diagram to give you an idea of a pen layout. Spoiler alert: bigger is better!

If you smell pig poop, you are doing something wrong

To sum it all up here, if your can always smell pig poop when you head out to the pig pen, you are doing something wrong with your pig management. Generally, it’s actually lack of management that is the problem!

All you have to do is put in more bedding. The great news is that you can use all kinds of bedding materials, straw, wood chips, sawdust, whatever is absorbent, in your price range and available.

If you find that your pigs manure “gets away from you” go crazy on the bedding you put in the pen to begin with, this way you don’t have to keep up with the manure on a more daily basis.

Another option is to put your pigs outside, like in the lawn or on pasture. Pigs with plenty of room to roam do not smell.

Put in large amounts of bedding with your pigs

I am a fan of putting in a big amount of bedding, as I mentioned, then not doing the daily bedding work. How much bedding am I talking about here? 500 pound round bales of wheat straw that we bought at the auction.

We rolled the bale down to the pig area, then spread a little of it out around two pens of recently weaned feeder pigs then plopped what was left of the bale into the breeding age gilts.

You don’t need to bother too much with getting the straw spread out perfectly, the pigs will be happy to do that for you. For the bigger pigs, I don’t spread it out at all, they like to spread out the straw themselves.

We used the loader on the tractor and rolled that straw in and let them tear it up. This kept them busy and with plenty of bedding for weeks!

If I didn’t need the straw for the smaller pens, I would have just put the whole bale in with the gilts, they’ll get it spread out!

The just weaned feeder pigs are in smaller pens, so the pen is too small to put an entire round bale in at once like I do with the older pigs in the bigger areas.

I can put in about a half of a small square bale with the feeders when ever they need bedding and that works better for this size of pigs and their current pen.

Resources:

PDF from Iowa State University Extension on bedding needs for various ages of pigs, I took these bedding materials and amounts then calculated the bagged amount needed to be purchased

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