Pig Questions

Goat Shaman

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I'm considering getting pigs, so I have some questions. Some may be irrelevant to a first time pig owner, but I'm curious. I'm currently reading a book that answers some of these questions, but other opinions from experienced pig owners would be helpful.

Is it okay to start with one gilt, and then get a boar some time later?
I've heard that sows can be dangerous, but is a full grown sow always a bad choice for a first pig, even if she's exceptionally friendly and non-aggressive?
What's the minimum recommended fencing for two pigs?
What's the cheapest way to get good pig fencing?
I've heard that hog panels are generally used to contain pigs, but is that the best?
What's the heaviest a boar can get?
What's the heaviest a sow can get?
At what age do pigs generally reach their maximum adult weight?
Do pigs grow larger wattles / dewlaps on their throat as they age?
Do pigs get along well with other livestock, such as goats?
 

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I can share with you from personal experience that hogs can climb. I had one climb up a 4' trailer gate (while driving) and escape over the top. That is the extent of my personal experience. Now, here's what I've read and understand along with what others have shared...

Pigs are very smart, very strong, and pretty independent (stubborn). As an aside, you should never piss one off as they have an incredible memory and they will get even. You should always be aware of where you are and where the hog is when in the same general space. Even a friendly hog can get deadly in a split second. Be especially cautious around a newly freshened sow. If you handle a piglet and it squeals, you could experience the likeness of a grizzly bear. Not all hogs are friendly or deadly... Like people, they each have a personality, and it can change dependent on circumstances.

IMHO, not experience, the best way to contain hogs is with electric/hot wire. Hog panels will contain a hog as long as the hog wants to stay inside the enclosure. If they want out, they will go over (34" high) or under (they can lift it with their snouts). I would recommend regular cattle panels as a better alternative to hog panels. If you want cheap fencing, you might consider using pallets stood with their stays vertical, held in place with T-posts. Pallets can be had free virtually everywhere, you just have to look/ask around. T posts are cheap at 3-4 bucks each. Make sure if you use pallets that you use strong ones that aren't broken/rotted. I would also "plant" them leaning slightly inward.

It's my understanding that a hog never stops growing while alive. If they eat, they grow, and hogs definitely can and do eat. Many folks buy pot belly pigs thinking they'll always be cute and adorable... then as a few years pass and that PBP gets to be 200+ pounds, strong, and stubborn, they then have to find a way to get rid of it. Typical weights vary depending on breed. Some are just naturally larger. Boars weighing 1000 pounds happen, and sows weighing 6-800+ is common, again by breed. Most who are raising for meat generally butcher the hog between 200-400 pounds. Better combination of meat/fat and more tender. But I've read folks report butchering 800+ pound hogs that were delicious... but there was much more fat/lard than what would have come from a younger/smaller hog.

Most folks do not mix hogs with other livestock. Combination of factors. Be advised that some hogs root more than others. A rooting hog will destroy a pasture in virtually no time at all. It's amazing the amount of dirt they can move... the equivalent of a bulldozer. They also need a puddle/wet area to wallow for skin protection and cooling, and they will pick one area within the enclosure to be their bathroom and they will generally always use that spot.

Others who might have more details/info/suggestions/answers: @misfitmorgan @purplequeenvt @Mini Horses @mysunwolf and I know there are (many) others who've had hogs. I hope to have some (try again) this coming spring.
 

Simpleterrier

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I would do feeder pigs for my first hog. Buy in the spring butcher in the fall. I buy mine.in may and sell and butcher.end of October. Don't go cheep on the fence. I do hog panels with a string of electric about eight inches off of ground.
 

goatgurl

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I also have just raised feeder pigs for years until last year when I accidently bought a pregnant sow. I was not a happy camper but you deal with what life throws ya. as far as how big will a pig get that depends of the breed of pig. the sire if the piglets was 2 1/2 years old and weighed over 600# when they butchered him. I've seen other pigs 1,000# +. I started out using hog panels but when a hungry hog climbs over the hog panel to eat his supper you give him the bucket. after that I started using the cattle panels simply because they are taller and just as strong plus I don't have electric in my barn area. do you want these pigs to eat or to raise more hogs or what do you plan to do with them?
never under estimate a hog. they are fast, strong and unpredictable. a sweet friendly sow may try to tear you up is you have her piglet and its screaming bloody murder. same with a boar if the sow is in season and you get between them. you may think you are stronger than your pig but I 100# hog can pretty much bowl a person over. none of this is to scare you but to help you see how they can be. I wish you luck with what ever it is you want to do.
 

Baymule

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Start with feeder pigs. Get two, a lonely pig is an escaping pig. Make sure you have a way to haul them to slaughter. Pigs do not grow wattles on their throats as they get older. There is a breed called Red Wattle that has wattles. We raised some on our second batch of feeder pigs.

Our first batch of feeder pigs gave me the creeps. I never went in their pen when I was alone and I always carried a 4' piece of pipe. They tried to circle behind me. I was not sad to send them to slaughter

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/feeder-pigs.32154/

Our second batch of feeder pigs were Red Wattle pigs. They didn't give me the creeps, but I never forgot they were pigs with long sharp teeth and great strength. I forbade our grand daughter (10 years old) to go in the pig pen for any reason. They were fairly friendly, but went crazy over food. I gave them boiled eggs once a week, but I stood on the outside and tossed the eggs over the fence. It was like a shark feeding frenzy. No way I was walking amongst that. We wound up slaughtering our own pigs. There are pictures in this thread of slaughter and cutting meat. If it offends you, you have been warned.

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/feeder-pigs-2017.35395/

I highly recommend that you start with feeder pigs. Let someone else do the breeding and 24-7-365 days a year taking care of hogs. Support your local heritage hog breeder and buy feeder pigs from them.

You don't live too far from me. My best hog raising season is in the fall, winter and early spring. I can keep them warm enough but I can't keep them cool enough. Flies and smell in the summer. No flies and smell in the winter. They need a shelter to get out of the weather and rain. They need hay on cold nights, they will eat it and you have to put in more. They love to lay in their water tub and turn it over. :he

When you get your feeder pigs, call a custom slaughter house and set the date. On batch #2, I called in May and the closest date I could get was August 29. We slaughtered the pigs ourselves the first of June and got them off the feed bill. Those places stay busy. You will need someone with a truck and trailer to help you pick up the pigs and to haul them to slaughter.
 

Goat Shaman

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Well, I still have to think about it before getting pigs. It's really a lot to consider, and many things could go wrong. I eat more chicken than any other meat, so I might consider chickens instead.
 

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Chickens are the gateway animal for homesteaders... cheep, easy (relatively), lots of fresh eggs to use or sell, and meat for the table if you buy large breeds. They also take up very little space, require very minimal maintenance/upkeep, and they're fun to watch.
 

Baymule

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Chickens would get along with the goats you already have. A pig and goats, not so much. Hogs are omnivores. They eat meat. A chicken got in the pen with the Red Wattle hogs we raised. I was in the pen (an acre) walking around and saw the chicken. I was able to catch her, toss her over the fence and get out before the hogs came running up. They ran around smelling where she had walked and were all excited. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have ripped her to pieces and ate her.
 

misfitmorgan

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I am probly the odd one out.

We raise our pigs in pasture and confinement depending on their needs and goals. Our breeders spend most of their time in very large(industry wise) confinements/stalls they do get to go out on pasture a few times a week when they are not breeding, farrowing, weaning or in late pregnancy. Being kept in confinement during those times is only for our human convenience when we move and have more pasture they will only be kept in confinement at night time during the earlier mentioned times.

Our butcher pigs and young piglets are left on pasture 24/7. We have sheep, goats, geese, ducks, a llama, a few chickens, and mini pigs all on the same pasture at the same time. We have so far not had any problems..thats being said these are pigs that are smaller and lighter weight. We have also selected and bred our pigs for their temperament. Our pigs are friendly, curious, calm, mindful of other animals and people.....even so would i trust a 300-600lb pig in the pasture full time with other livestock....no. Pigs can get very very big, mean or not when a pig is running around playing they can easily knock other livestock and humans over. We have been knocked over by our pigs, we sit on the ground on our pasture and watch the livestock as well....have they tried to eat us, no. We also have corrected them since weaning or birth that it is not ok to put your mouth on a human, we are not food or a chew toy.

I would 100% never suggest anyone to start out raising pigs by buying a full grown sow with zero pig experience.

Pigs are indeterminate meaning they do not have a maximum size. The world record for pig size was over 2,500lbs and was set in the 30s. This would have been the old style pigs not the modern trim pigs. There are many examples of very large pigs even with our modern breeds, like 1,600lbs.
 
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