What on earth is a sorting board for pigs? And why would anyone want to use one to begin with, can’t you just use a gate or some plywood?
A pig sorting board is a durable, light weight plastic panel used to block the sight of alternative options while moving a pig so the pig goes the way the handler intends the pig to move. Pig sorting boards are also referred to as pig sorting panels, pig cutting boards and pig hurdles.
Chances are if you are interested in pig sorting boards, you are trying to figure out how to move pigs. Read my article 7 Tips For Moving Pigs for information on the dos and don’ts.
Sorting boards for pigs are plastic and portable
Sorting boards for pigs are a light weight, yet durable plastic “board” that blocks the vision of your pig.
The idea is that the board acts as a solid, yet portable barrier that blocks a potential exit from the pig’s line of sight and encourages the pig to move in the direction you want it to go.
Pig sorting boards are easy to use
Sorting boards are easy to use and light weight, yet durable enough to stand up to your pigs.
You use the board by blocking the way you don’t want the pig to go. You stand with the board near to the ground. Keep the pig between you and the place you want the pig to go.
If the pig comes close to you, be sure you put the board on the ground, close is not good enough!
Pigs are super strong lifters, even with their noses. With the board on the ground the pig can’t get his snout under the edge and slip past you.
While it’s possible for a pig to try and go over the board, it’s just not as likely. Your pig will try under first, so be sure you are ready for it!
The other “pig maneuver” you might have to work with is pushing you.
If this is the case, it’s usually not the snout, the pushing comes from the body, like him swinging around his butt to try and turn around, be ready to push your knees into the back of the board to see if that will stop the pig.
To be clear, unless the pigs are small, they are strong enough to push you over, but they are also looking for the easiest escape. You are not trying to push the pig anywhere, you are trying to guide his vision and therefore his body.
I like the handle cut outs in the side and top, this way you can use the board long ways or short ways, depending upon what you need, and still have a good grip.
I weighed my board and it is 8 pounds, in case you are looking for the specifics.
Sorting board cost is based on size of board
The cost of the sorting board varies with the size, going from $22.17 for a 18″ x 30″ up to $46.25 for the largest boards, which are 48″ x 30″.
Here is the sorting panel at Farmer Boy Ag. (Not an affiliate link, just a good site to view the board.) You’ll see there are multiple sizes and colors to choose. The panels are made by KANE, but it’s easier to see them on Farmer Boy Ag.
I have the mid range size of 36″ x 30″ in black and it works great. Big enough to block quite a bit of area, yet still easy to move and use.
When do you use a sorting board?
I use my sorting board all of the time. When we moved the due soon sows down to their new pen, I could easily direct them with the board.
We use the board to get pigs into the loading chute as well.
It is not for pushing the pigs, eventually, I’m sure the board will break! It’s just to get them in the chute from the main pen. And to keep any other pigs in the pen out of the chute!
Which pigs can use use a sorting board for?
Sorting panels can be used for any size pig, from piglets up to the breeding herd.
I do need to point out a few things, if your pigs are just purchased feeder pigs, it’s likely that they will not move well, especially if they have been raised on a different floor type than you are putting them on now.
These pigs are nervous and will not move well. The sorting board will help, but your real challenge is them being new and timid. In a few days, they’ll be used to you and this won’t be an issue.
My husband went and purchased a few feeder pigs from a local Amish farm a few years ago. I can remember it plain as day, when we got those piglets off the truck they stuck their little legs out straight and wouldn’t move!
They were raised in a confinement type setting on expanded metal floors and had never walked on a solid floor, so they were scared of it! Crazy.
So why am I telling you this? For these piglets, they just needed plenty of time or to be carried to the pen. The problem was not going to be solved soon with a sorting board! Eventually, yes, but soon, no.
Why should you use a sorting board?
A sorting board an easy to use tool that will help make moving pigs easier on you. Since the panel blocks the side view, the pig sees that side option as closed, meaning it will go the way you want. Maybe not the first time, but soon.
Since the panel has a solid front, there is nothing for the pig to grab with his nose, unless he can get under it. That’s a huge plus compared to a gate.
Also, along the top of the sorting panel are hand hold holes. This makes the board easier to grip than something like plywood. Unless you cut holes in the plywood, which we did, it was still too heavy for me to move it around much.
The final plus on sorting boards is you can find them used. I got mine with some feeders. It’s used and a bit dirty, you can see from the video, but is in super shape and seemingly has no wear and tear from the previous owner.
First off, let me admit it upfront, we always used a partial piece of plywood or just a small gate to move pigs. I was too cheap to buy a sorting panel. Sad, but true.
I caused myself a ton of extra work trying to “make do” when I could have just bought one and made pig work so much easier!
From what I just wrote, you know that you don’t have to get a sorting panel, we went for years without it. But…I can’t believe how much I like it. Seriously, it’s so easy to use.
Sorting boards are also called other names
On other sites I have come across pig sorting boards also being called sorting panels and cutting boards. I use the term hurdle, as in hog or pig hurdle.
It’s funny to me, cutting board is something you use to to protect your countertop from knife marks (or protect your knife from a hard countertop) when you cut vegetables!
This phrasing is using cutting in the ranching sense of cut from the herd, like a cutting horse or the common phrase “make the final cut”.
Anyway, I always use the phrase hurdle, but if I want to look it up online, I search sorting board.