Livestock

Five Important Things You Should Know About Pigs

Yes, a pig has four toes on each foot but only walks on two. But, that’s not what I want to talk about. If there’s anything I love as much as raising pigs, it’s getting others hooked on raising pigs. And, that’s the aim of this article.

1. To raise breeding stock or buy piglets?

Most farmers buy piglets (weaners) that are about two or three months old and don’t rely on their mother’s milk. They then raise the pigs to slaughter weight (typically about 120kgs), when they’re about 6 months old. However, if you can breed your own, pigs average about 10 babies per litter, Therefore, for the price of a few piglets you can end up with 10 pigs, plus a mama that you can breed again over and over.

2. Castrate the male piglets

You need to castrate any males that you won’t be raising for breeding stock while young to prevent uncontrolled mating and to also keep their meat from developing an “off” flavor and odor. The best time to perform this operation is when the piglets are about two weeks old. It won’t only be easier but also non-traumatic for the young animal.

You can bring in a professional to do it for you and learn the first few times. To castrate the piglets yourself, have someone help you hold the piglet up by its hind legs while you wash the animal’s genital area with a disinfectant. Then use a sterilized knife  to make a long, deep incision over the length of each testicular bulge.

If you castrate correctly, the testicles will either fall out of the scrotum or be easy to press out by hand. Then grab each “mountain oyster” and pull it gently away from the pig until the connecting artery and cord stretch and break off. This will force the artery to contract and quickly choke off the flow of blood.

After you performing this  simple cut and pull procedure, spray or powder the exposed area with an antibiotic, and if the operation takes place during fly season apply a protective dressing.

You might also like: The importance of ventilation when raising pigs

3. Pigs are scary strong

Pigs are clever animals. If they find a weak spot in your fencing they will work at the area until they get out. They also have sharp teeth and strong jaw muscles, therefore, they can chew through your fencing. So, use wood panels or a wire gauge thick enough to withstand this behaviour. A pig can pull and swing on fencing. Therefore, it has to be strong enough to withstand these types of forces.

Good quality pig fencing is essential for any pigs you keep outside, regardless of the breed. Your fencing should be free of any holes through which your hogs might be able to squeeze through and escape (especially piglets).  Pigs have tendency of going under a fence as opposed to going over it. Because, they use their fleshy nose to pry under things, you have to ensure that the bottom of any fencing is against the ground and not a couple of inches in the air.

If you are using your fence to keep the sexes apart, use an electric fence. A boar will swing and pull on a fence in an attempt to get to a female causing considerable damage in the process. If you are using wire fencing in a breeding setup, regularly check it for damage.

4. It’s Not Easy to Make Bacon

Making your own bacon is a bit challenging. Most of all, it takes a bit of elbow grease and patience. Curing your own bacon is a fairly lengthy process compared to running to the shops and just buying some. So, if you’re not going commercial, it’s best to just buy. Firstly, you’ll need curing salt also known as Prague powder. Secondly, you’ll need a smoker of some kind. Finally, you need a great quality thermometer. (Leave a comment and us know if you want to know how to make bacon)

Furthermore, bacon is made exclusively from pork belly. So,  if your pigs don’t have enough belly to make bacon, despite how much you feed them, then you need to focus on getting those bellies big before you can say bacon.

5. Whatever you, do don’t name those pigs!

The last thing you want is a pig for a pet (No, not in Zambia!). If you give it a name, it’ll be too cute to be farm-fresh pork.

Happy pig farming!

6 thoughts on “Five Important Things You Should Know About Pigs

    1. Hi Geoffrey, We don’t have additional reading information but should we have any, we’ll remember to email you.

  1. Hi my name is Banda.
    I want to start pig farming am asking more basic information on how to get started, wht to do and what not to do thank you

    1. Hi Dorah,

      Please check with piggeries for this information. You can also ask on the small scale farmers group of Facebook. It’s very helpful.

      All the best!

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