This last winter, I published a blog about why we had decided to raise our own pigs for meat this summer –
Well I am proud to say, we are!
Early May, we brought home 4 Tamworth piglets- a heritage breed from the UK known for its long, lean body, red hair and hardiness.
And so far, so good. It was a bit of a setup to bring them home as we had to put up electric fencing, figure out a house and other small logistics, but we are happy to report that things are going well.
So the basics-
Buying Piglets– we purchased our piglets at about 8 weeks old from a farmer located about 20 miles from us. They each cost $100, the males came with their testicles removed. They were around 40 to 50 lbs each at that point. We fit them two at a time into 2 large dog crates. We feel the short travel time was best for keeping the pigs from stressing to much on the ride to their new home. We sequestered them into their home for the first 48 hours so to avoid them running the fence and possibly escaping trying to find their old home. We were going to keep them locked up for 72 hours, but they broke free of their house and happily stayed put, so it worked out just fine.
Fencing – We used 4 lines of electric fencing starting about 3 inches from the ground and ending about 20 inches off the ground. I can easily hop over the top, and they don’t mess with it after getting zapped a couple times. We run it off a solar panel and the whole shebang cost us around $400 dollars for the panel, the wire, the rods, the clips, the grounding rods
Housing – we are not overwintering our pigs, so all we needed was a basic three sided shelter. We salvaged an old truck cab for them to sleep in and stay out of the rain in. If we were planning on over wintering any pigs, we’d build them a more permanent situation.
Food – We feed them a complete pelleted hog feed. In the beginning we only fed them twice a day, breakfast and supper, which we soften up with water to turn to mush so they don’t waste as much. As they got bigger, about 6 weeks into keeping them, I added half a bucket at lunch time. Also we feed them most of our kitchen scraps. Both sets of our parents kick in with their kitchen scraps, and a local campground gives us their old products that they can’t sell anymore for free. The point of not free feeding is reducing waste and keeping the pigs from eating themselves to fat. We want lean pork as the end product.
We DO NOT give them any pork, raw meat or eggs, meat with bones still in it, raw tomatoes, raw peppers, raw potatoes, raw onion, raw egg, junk food, citrus, coffee or tea grounds, or moldy food whatsoever
We DO give them any older milk, bread, fruit, veggies, cooked beef, turkey or chicken meals, pasta, yogurt, cheese (lord they love cheese) and old pickled products (they really enjoyed our pickled eggs)
Water – We check their water at least 3 or 4 times a day, and make sure that they have access to clean fresh water all day, every day. On the hot days, they were spilling their buckets so we’ve had to dig holes into the ground that the water buckets fit into, so that they have a harder time flipping them. Doesn’t stop them all the time, but mostly they leave them alone.
Mud – Tamworths are not prone to sun damage because of their fairly thick coat of hair, but they still are like all other pigs and do not have sweat glands, so they need mud to stay cool. We run our hose into a plastic pipe and let her rip for 15 minutes at a time, up to 4 times a day depending on how hot it is and how fast the mud dries up.
Slaughter– We will not be slaughtering these pigs ourselves. Being busy, pregnant and inexperienced with the art of butchering, it was just to much to take on ourselves. And being honest with ourselves, it’s not something either one of us have the stomach for after raising these guys for 6 months, even tho we haven’t really grown attached to these particular animals. We have, however, come to love having pigs on the farm, and plan on raising our own again next year. So we have been researching our options on different slaughter houses and the best time of year to get them taken care of. We have chosen to send them to slaughter in early October, so that we have them taken care of before Baby Gillis arrives and to avoid the busy hunting season in November. That was at the suggestion of the farmer we bought them from, and we feel it is good advice.
Until next time, have a wicked good day!