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.
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!