Once you have a vegetable garden and perhaps a few chickens, one of the best ways to become more self-sufficient is to raise pigs for food. Home-raised pork is healthier for your family than buying it at the grocery store, and the end product tastes better as well.
Pigs are a good choice of livestock for the small homestead because they require little space, and you can supplement their feed with table scraps. And the manure they produce is useful for fertilizing your garden.
Things You'll Need
- Pig fencing panels, 4
- Steel T-posts, 8
- T-post clips
- T-post driver
- Fencing pliers
- Water trough
- Electric fence charger
- Extended T-post insulators
- Electric fence wire
- Grain or feed pellets
Build your pig pen. Drive a T-post in each corner of a 16-ft square. Drive the remaining four posts at the midway points of all four sides. Face the "nubs" on the posts toward the inside of the square. Clip the pig panels to the inside of the posts to form a pen.
Clip the insulators on the posts approximately six inches high. Run a loop of electric fence wire around the insulators, on the inside of the pen. Hang the fence charger on the outside of the pen, and follow the directions to connect it. This will prevent the pigs digging their way out of the pen.
Place the doghouse and water trough inside the pen. Make sure nothing touches the electric fence.
Find a pair of young (approximately six weeks old) pigs to buy. Classified ads, local pig farmers, and local livestock markets are good places to find young pigs. Buy females and/or castrated males. It is best to start with two, because the pigs will be happier if they have company.
Bring the pigs home. They will be easy to handle at this age. Put them in their new pen. Fill their water trough and give them some food.
Keep water in the trough at all times. Feed the pigs as much grain or pellets as they will eat every day. Also give them table scraps and excess garden vegetables.
Pigs love to root, so you can feed them directly on the ground.
Remove the manure when it starts building up. Place it in a compost pile to use as next year's fertilizer.
Find a local slaughter house to slaughter and butcher your pigs when they reach 200 to 225 lbs.
Tips & Warnings
- Give your pigs the best life you can, and realize that it is their purpose to become food. If that weren't the case, domestic pigs would never live at all.
- Keep small children and pets away. Adult pigs can be dangerous.
- Do not touch the electric fence when it is on. Turn it off any time you go into the pen.
- Keep checking to see that the pigs don't root dirt against the electric fence, shorting it out and making it useless.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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