There are many reasons why you would want to raise a pig: to ensure that the meat you eat comes from humane, drug-free sources; as a 4H project; or to teach your kids how to be more self-sufficient. There are several things you need to take into consideration when you first decide to raise a pig, but anyone can do it, if they have the right mindset and a willingness to learn – and a little space on their property.
If you want to raise a pig, you need to first find a pig. Look in your county extension office, farm supply store, or state department of agriculture for information regarding breeders and farms that sell piglets in your area. Decide if you want one or two. One pig is easiest, if you plan to spend time socializing with it. If you don’t plan on spending much time with your pig, buy two. Pigs need company, or they will become wild and dangerous. Just remember that two pigs produce twice as much manure as one pig, and need more space, water, and food.
Pigs need a strong pen, one that will hold a piglet or larger pig that is intent on escape. Do your research, and build the strongest, most secure pen you can afford. A shabby, ill-designed pen will have you chasing after your runaway pig on a constant basis, or will see you with no pig after a predator eats your piglet after it escapes.
Other things to consider are space, bedding and shelter. A pig needs to be clean and dry, and also requires a small covered sleeping area. An extra-large dog house would work for sleeping arrangements, if you plan on slaughtering or selling your pig in the fall, before it gets too big. Your pig will need a feeding trough, a water supply, and a small area in which to cavort during the day. Straw in the sleeping area for the floor is ideal. A dirt or grass enclosure for daytime play is recommended. While your pig is growing, 4H says that a temperature of 70 degrees Farenheit is ideal. For “finishing” a pig, right before it is sent to slaughter or to be sold, a slightly cooler temperature of 60 degrees Farenheit is ideal.
Food and Water
Just like any other animal, a pig needs lots of fresh, clean water to drink. A pig’s rooting instinct means that you need to have an unspillable source of water, and you must be vigilant at keeping her water bucket filled. A bucket that is attached to the side of her pen at a height that will prevent her from sticking her feet into the water is a good option. Just make sure it always has water in it, especially on hot summer days. What you feed your pig is up to you, but grain is a basic staple. You can purchase it from your local feed and supply store. Supplement your pig’s diet with table scraps, garden waste, lawn clippings, yogurt, and any nuts that fall from your backyard trees. Just make sure you don’t feed it anything toxic – do your research to find out what foods are dangerous for your pig.