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There are plenty of benefits to raising a pig at home for meat, and it’s a great investment considering how much meat you get. Nonetheless, it’s needless to say that pigs, like other farm animals, need a lot of care and attention because the whole reason you’re raising them at home is so you can get high-quality meat. There’s a lot to learn so you should make some notes before bringing home your porker.

The Number of Pigs

This may look like a simple question but before you say ‘one’, let me stop you. Raising a single porker won’t result in a healthy pig since they like to have company after they’re separated from their siblings. On the other hand, it’s likely that your family won’t be eating more than a single pig’s worth of pork in a year. Therefore, unless you have an exceptionally large family, raising the second pig won’t be a great investment.

My solution is that you should offer to raise a pig for a friend who wants to do it but doesn’t have space or time to do it by themselves. They can pay you the cost of raising and butchering the second pig, both the pigs will have a friend and you’ll be helping a friend. If none of your friends are eager to raise an entire pig, you can raise and butcher two pigs and offer to sell meat to your friends.

Before you begin, it’s best to ask people from your social circle whether they would like to buy some fresh pork from you next fall. You’re likely to get many positive responses so you won’t be discouraged to raise the porkers. Although you won’t make much of a profit in selling fresh meat, you can get double your investment by adding a little more time and smoking or curing the meat before you sell it.

Buying Porkers

If you are in touch with a farm community, you should know that farmers generally offer young pigs for sale during the spring and summer season. You can check for listings in the newspaper, but if you don’t find any, you’ll have to make a trip down to the nearest farming community and pick up your pigs.

I should warn you not to buy pigs as soon as spring starts because your garden isn’t ready to feed two pigs. You’ll be buying them too early; pigs are sold at eight weeks after they’re properly weaned. You’ll have to butcher the pig once it’s six months old; feeding it after this time will mean putting more money into it. You should wait until the cold weather is six months away from buying time since this ensures that you’ll have lower temperatures to hang and cool the pork.

Which Breed is Best?

Few breeds of pigs are quite popular for their meat producing capabilities, and won’t be hard to find them in a farm community. Tamworth, Chester White, Hampshire, Duroc-Jersey Berkshire, and Yorkshire produce large quantities of delicious meat. Make sure you bring home either a sow or a barrow, since boar meat tastes and smells unpleasant.

Housing and Care

Most farming experts suggest that pig housing is supposed to be floorless and made from fences. It should be portable so you can move it around your garden, preventing manure from accumulating in one place. The fence doesn’t need to be very high; a three-foot fence will do fine but make sure to fix it well into the ground since pigs can’t jump over a fence but can crawl under.

A five-by-five feet housing structure is big enough to accommodate two pigs. Add a shade to it so the pigs stay safe from sunburn. The house can be made from tin or scrap lumber and during colder months, you can give them straw to keep warm by lining their bedding with it.

Pigs have a natural habit to root and gain minerals from the soil, so unless you place them in a confined space and don’t move their housing often, they’ll root in their own manure. Provide them with fresh soil so they can root for essential minerals, and let them move around for exercise.

Feeding Your Pigs

Don’t give your pigs food of bad quality and suspicious origins, since it’s bound to have chemicals and additives in it. Instead, give them scraps from your kitchen and a few other things. Here’s a list of the things they generally like to eat.

  • Grains: You can feed grains exclusively but that can be unhealthy for the pigs. Instead, grind a mixture of corn, soybeans, and rye for a healthy diet that gives them the right nutrients rather than just fatten them up. However, if you start to notice your pigs getting too fat, you should stop adding corn to the mixture for a while until their weight return s back to normal.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: You can feed your pigs’ melons, cucumbers, squash cabbage leaves, and pea vines. They enjoy eating greens and you can also add weeds to the mix for a combination of different leaves.
  • Milk: Pigs love drinking milk and you’ll do really well if you have a cow that produces a lot of milk. You can also feed them whey, soured milk, and powdered milk as well.

Aside from these basics, you can even provide your pigs with pasture or alfalfa hay, which will fulfill almost 30 percent of their feeding requirements.

Now that I’ve covered all the basics, it’s time for you to get your own pigs. Remember, raising two pigs is not extra trouble than raising one, so go ahead and take care of two pigs; you’ll earn a return on investment. Happy Farming!

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Evening Exercise: A Sleep-Promoting Activity?

According to sleep experts, exercise can help you sleep better–as long as you exercise during the day. But what happens if evening is the only time you have available to exercise? Should you skip it to avoid problems sleeping? Not so fast. Exactly how and when you exercise at night can make all the difference to how well you sleep. In fact, you may discover that exercising before bed isn’t just harmless; it’s the perfect segue to slumber. Here’s what you need to know:

Time It Right

While you may not want to hit the gym full force right before hitting the hay, studies have shown that exercising a few hours before bed won’t adversely affect sleep and may help you relax. Plan your workout for the early part of the evening to give your body and heart rate time to wind down before turning in. Also, wait at least a half hour after your evening meal to exercise to avoid digestive trouble that could keep you up at night.

Move Slowly

Exercise comes in many forms and intensities, but any type of exercise has health and sleep benefits, including slow-paced activities. When exercising at night, consider choosing a low-intensity activity that helps release stress and tension built up during the day. Yoga, Pilates, a refreshing stroll outside, or a leisurely bike ride will all give you the health perks of exercise along with relaxation to help you prepare for sleep.

Consider Your Stomach

One problem with exercising at night is it can induce hunger right before bed. Resist the urge to eat a whole meal, since reclining on a full stomach can interfere with sleep. On the other hand, don’t climb into bed starving. Instead, munch on a sleep-inducing snack, like hummus and whole grain crackers, yogurt, or a handful of nuts. Too much water can keep you up, too, so be mindful of overhydrating when exercising at night.

Include Breathing

Proper breathing while you exercise is key to a healthy workout and helps put you in a restful, relaxing state after you’re done. Learn how to incorporate breathing techniques into your evening workout session. You might also practice deep breathing or meditation right before bed; both are mental fitness techniques that can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, improve brain health, and contribute to overall well-being.

Cool Down–and Warm Up

After cooling down from exercising at night, wait to throw on your pajamas. Treat yourself to a warm-up first–in the bath, that is. A soak in the tub or a hot shower will help lull you into dreamland. Warm water raises your body temperature, which puts you in a state of calm, but it’s the subsequent cooling down that cues your body it’s time for sleep. The best time to take a bath or shower for sleep is an hour or so before bedtime.

If you prefer to exercise at night or it’s the only time that fits your schedule, don’t fret over whether it’s a good or bad idea. Any exercise is better than none, plus evening exercise can be done in a way that promotes sleep. Be mindful about late workouts, and enjoy an invigorating and restful night.

by Susie Yakowicz


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