Expanding the farm. Adding pigs

sawfish99

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I have a deal worked out to trade a trailer (that I was planning to sell in the spring for $400-500) for a bred sow. The sow is a Berkshire, Hamshire, Landrace mix. She is bred to a pure Berkshire. The pigs are pastured and boars and sows run together. He estimates the sow will have her litter in 2-4 weeks.
Stats - 3 year old sow. This will be her 4th litter. Last litter was 11. She has 16 teats. He pastures and hasn't had any problems with her crushing babies. His pigs eat off the pasture when available, hay, nuts, whey, and non-medicated feed.

I have never raised pigs, but we have been discussing it for the past year. Since goat breeding season is over, I will move the 2 bucks into a single pen and put the sow into a 40'x80' pen that is hard fenced with 4" square field fencing. I already have an electric charger so I can run electric around the inside. We already use a lot of electronet on the property, so I can easily condition to electric and use that to rotate the pigs around some various portions of the property.

I also have a local grocery store will to give me barrels full of fruit and vegetable scraps for feed.

I am basically re-reading all the posts in the pig sections, but have a few specific questions I would like some input on.

1. What size shelter would you put in for a single sow expecting a litter?
2. What is the usable lifetime (number of litters) for a sow?
3. How frequently do you re-breed sows? I know a few other farms within 15 miles that have boars, so I can probably work out re-breeding.
 

sawfish99

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Would a 4'x6' shelter be sufficient for farrowing? Also, would you use hay/straw or shavings for bedding?
 

Royd Wood

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Hey sawfish
I would trade a bred pig for a trailer as you can see the condition of the trailer quite easly I just hope your pig turns out ok.
Saying that if in 4 weeks you have 8 Birkshire cross piglets suckling on a happy mum then you have a good deal
My sows have piglets in the woods for most of the year but right now its minus 25 c - 13 f here so we use pens at the farm which are only 5 x 7
One corner is blocked off from the sow about 8 inches off the floor so the little guys go underneath as they want - in and out from a heat lamp area to the sow
This works well at keeping the little guys warm and stops her flattening them
We tend to do shavings indoors for piglets but use straw before their born so she can build a nest, once she's done then we go to shavings
Good luck and keep us posted
 

sawfish99

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Thanks Royd. Since we already have a horse barn, I think we will just sacrifice a stall for a little while. It makes more sense than spending time and money building something when we don't know if this will be something we enjoy or not. However, since it was only about 12F here today, my wife was muttering "no more animals" throughout the evening chores.
 

Royd Wood

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Horse barn is great but still recommend heat lamp behind a petition in one corner. I hope the floor is good concrete as she will dig and dig otherwise and the little guys will chow down on anything she churns up
 

Cornish Heritage

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With you being up there in the cold you are going to need a heat lamp this time of year. However you will probably find that the piglets will be out running around with mama within 7-10 days. They love the sunshine & it is SO good for them so I don't advise you shutting them in. Pigs like to be out. If she is a pastured pig she will be miserable if you shut her in. Keep in mind that you can also run her on pasture with your cows etc. You do need to be careful with horses as they, the horses, will kick out at the pigs! You also cannot run your pigs with goats/sheep during kidding/lambing time as the pigs will eat the newborns - too much of a temptation for them.

Like Royd, ours farrowed in the woods & barn PLUS we used the 5 x 7' Porta Huts which worked really well. However we also do not get down as cold as you guys so that does make a difference this time of year.

All the best

Liz
 

sawfish99

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Thanks for the info. I checked out the sow last weekend. She is big and seemed nice enough. The owner has access to an area where they can go in for shelter, but the pigs all live outside - not closed in. We were planning to use a horse stall with open door to a paddock. We made the deal, however, an issue has come up since.

We found out Saturday night our landlord wants to sell the farm. We don't know if we are going to buy it. So for now, getting pigs is on hold while we figure out where we will live. I may end up taking meat instead of a sow.
 

Cornish Heritage

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All the best to you & hope everything works out well for you.

Liz
 

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