Raising animals for meat production is a special experience. It’s not an experience for everyone and some might be completely unable to take part in such an activity. However, there is something completely special and enriching about the entire journey and experience. You are able to see the complete journey of an animal. You will also intimately know everything about this meat. It might help assure you as you and your loved ones partake in this meat.
There are many animals you could raise for meat – chickens, pigs, sheep, or cattle. The list could go on some more. But, honestly, nothing is as special or surprising as the experience of raising pigs. In this article, I will share surprising facts that I’ve learned from my own pig raising experience.
1. You Have to Have Some Form of Barrier and It Has To Be Strong
If you’ve never raised a pig before, you might think that a minimal pen is enough. A wooden fence driven into the ground should be enough to keep your pigs in right? Unfortunately, that’s wrong. Pigs are deceivingly strong and clumsy. A wooden fence or even, an ordinary metal fence is no match for a pig. Your pigs will be able to easily root under them and get out. Instead, you’d need to actually invest in special fencing for pigs. These fences are essentially stronger and sturdier. They won’t bend or break as easily when force is applied to them.
If purchasing special fencing is out of your budget, you might have to get creative and create multiple layers of fencing around your pigpen. Pallets can also be included in between the fences to serve as reinforcement.
2. Pigs Don’t Usually Smell Very Good
This might not be a surprising fact to most. What is surprising, however, is how pungent and strong this odor can be. If your pig pen is placed too close to your house, that same odor will linger and remain in your house too. As such, it is important for you to ensure that you set up your pig pen to be as far away from your house as possible. Do remember to be courteous as well and keep it away from your neighbor’s place too. In fact, there are actually laws on how much space is required between your own pig pen and any of your adjacent neighbor’s houses.
Furthermore, this smell tends to build up as the pigs and their waste remain in one area. This is the main reason why pigs can be so smelly. A great solution for this would be to have a mobile pigpen. This is also only possible if you have a lot of space. If you do, then you should definitely try this out! Alternatively, you could also simply allow them to move around freely in your space. Their waste won’t build up in one area and they would also not be rooting up the ground only in one area!
If space is a problem for you however, then you can also use some straw to help reduce the odor. You do this by covering the entire pig pen ground in straw. The pigs will then root about in the straw instead of the ground. This means that they won’t end up covered in mud and feces. You should also regularly change the straw out to keep it clean.
3. Pigs Need Way More Food Than You Think
Since you’re raising your pigs for meat, you’d expect them to already need a substantial amount of meat. After all, you’d want them to be meaty and hence, profitable. But what may be surprising is just how much food they actually need. Basically, every thirty pounds of a pig requires seven pounds of food. An average pig weighs about 200 to 300 pounds and hence, requires at least 47 pounds of food in a day. And that’s just one pig’s needs!
The great news, however, is that pigs can eat a wide variety of things. And some of these things can be highly affordable for most people. So, here is a list of ways you can feed your pigs!
Substituting With Store-bought Hog Food
This is only an option if you’ve allowed your pigs free range on an area of pasture. The store-bought food then serves as a supplement to ensure that they are receiving sufficient food.
Old, Almost Expired or Unwanted Food
This is one of the best options because it usually comes cheap and is a great way to reduce food wastage too! The first way is to purchase old bread from bakeries or stores. Bakeries would be happy to get rid of them as they are stale and unsellable. As such, you would be able to purchase a whole load of old bread for cheap! Alternatively, you could also purchase old dairy from grocery stores to feed your pigs. Old dairy is usually heavily discounted and this is a good way for you to save money. Lastly, you could also feed your pigs compost! This could be any leftover or unwanted food from your home’s own meals. This practically costs nothing for you and hence, is a great idea.
Corn is also another great option as feed for your pigs. It can be extremely cheap and it is also very easy to prepare for your pigs. You could either give the whole kernel to your pigs or you could make it into slop by soaking said corn in water overnight. However, it is important to note that corn can be very fattening for pigs and you might want to avoid that if you’re looking to raise and sell leaner cuts.
4. They Need A Sheltered Space For Sleeping
This may be surprising to know. Most people would assume that a pig pen is all you’ll need when raising pigs. However, a barn is also needed for pigs. This is especially for when the weather is too extreme. Essentially, your pigs need at least a three-sided shelter. This is necessary as you would want to block out the wind, rain and sun rays for your pigs. It would also be necessary to place a great amount of straw within the barn as they are able to keep your pigs warm and dry.
5. You Have To Castrate Your Boars
For newbies, this may be the most surprising. Boars need to be castrated. Of course, you shouldn’t castrate all your boars. You’d need one or two left uncastrated for breeding. However, all other boars should be castrated before they are fourteen days old. This is because uncastrated boars have higher amounts of testosterone. This testosterone, in turn, causes meat to taste bad.
Castration isn’t simple either. It is not a good idea to attempt to castrate your boars yourself. This is especially so if you do not have any training. Instead, it’s a good idea to seek help from a veterinarian or to seek proper training first.
We hope that this article gives you a clearer idea of what it’s like to raise pigs for meat. However, there is always much more to know about raising pigs and more research into it would be best. As you raise your own pigs, you’d be sure to learn a few more too!