FARM PIGS - For food, fun or profit
Pigs are a great 4-H project for kids. The goal of the 4-H market hog project is to encourage integrity, sportsmanship, cooperation and an ability to communicate through activities such as demonstrations, talks, judging events, tours and exhibits.
We love our pigs. Pigs are one of the larger animals on the farm. They are smart, and gentle (this is NOT the way with the boar). We have had the pigs be a hit when they were fed through tubes in the fence - the pigs appetite is insatiable...
Some believe that pigs were the earliest animal to be domesticated, not the cat or dog. Paintings and carvings of pigs over 25,000 years ago have been found. The Chinese domesticated pigs 7,000 years ago.
COMMON FARM PIG BREEDS
Duroc: These pigs have a medium length and slight dish of the face. The ears should be drooping and should not be held erect. color may range from a very light golden, almost yellow color, to a very dark red. On the average, this breed needs less feed to make a pound of muscle than the other breeds.
Tamworth: From England, the head of the Tamworth is rather striking as compared with that of many other hogs in that it is long and has a snout that is moderately long and quite straight. When seen from the side, the face usually has a very slight suggestion of a dish. Long body, and long legs.
Yorkshire: An all white pig, it is thought that the first Yorkshires brought into the United States were brought to Ohio around 1830. The breed had it's ups and downs, but finally registry of the breed flourished. Yorks are good mothers and produce large litters
Berkshire: Black with six white points (nose, tail, and legs), these hogs have erect ears and a short, dished snout. They work well in enclosed facilities and are noted for their siring ability.
Hampshire: These are the oreo pigs. The Hampshire breed of hogs may well be one of the oldest original early American breeds of hogs in existence today. They are black with a white belt that extends from one front leg, over the shoulder, and down the other front leg. They have erect ears and are popular for their lean, meaty carcasses.
Here is daughter Mariann sitting with Portia, a Hampshire pig, while she is in labor.
Use a pre-mixed feed from the feed store - This is the easiest way to feed. They eat up to 3 pounds of feed. Or get your own: corn, barley, oats, rye are all fine to feed a pig.
You can also feed a pig any discarded food from your plate - they will eat anything except onions and citrus peels. Don't feed chicken bones or any pork.
We like to let our pigs roam and forage. They enjoy pastured grasses and the mast from the wooded areas. They root for all sorts of grubs, roots etc. Pigs need minerals from the dirt, so we feel this is important.
Fresh clean water is essential. Water is the most important part of a pig's diet. One-half to two-thirds of a pig's body is made up of water. Pigs should be supplied with as much clean, fresh water as they will drink. Pigs can live longer without feed than without water. (Actually this is true of all animals)
A pig needs to be kept cool, they have no way to sweat much - the way they cool down is in the mud. Provide a place for the pig to wallow - Otherwise, spray him down. White pigs will get sunburned, so they need shade. Our pigs will find a nice cool spot under the trees, or a building, root out a small hollow area and snooze during the heat of the day.
When pigs are young, fencing isn't much of a challenge - they stay where the food is! Even in an unfenced pasture. Pigs can be raised on the pasture...as long as food and water is accessible to them they won't wander.
They will stay in an electric fence, but once they learn to get out they will.
They do not jump, so the fence doesn't need to be high, just sturdy enough to withstand rooting. (Burying the bottom board is best)
Some pigs root a lot and some do not. The black and white ones (Hampshires) seem to root the most. The red (Durocs) are less likely. But all pigs do root. They can root up asphalt their noses are so strong!
The minimum space for one pig to be happy is 100 square feet. But if you will only have it a short time, less is OK. The boards on the fence should be close together, nail all boards to the inside of the posts. (The pig will push them loose).
BOTTLE FEEDING THE PIGLETS
If you need to bottle feed a piglet - use fresh goats milk. You can use pig or goat replacer found at the local feed store. You can also find dry or canned goat's milk in the grocery store in the baking aisle. Use a human bottle and nipple. We have also used a water bottle and and a lamb's nipple.
Make sure the piglet has gotten colostrum.
Piglets learn very easily to use a flat pan (some use old ashtrays). We use baby cereal (usually rice) with warm goat's milk Don't make it too soupy. Have a separate bowl with water.