Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs....and what to feed them.

You'll excuse me for doing a fast 'here's a buncha links' post for today but I'm having breakfast with Frank Underwood this morning. If I really apply myself I think I can watch all 13 hours today.

One of my most searched for phrases is "what to feed pigs." Or feeding pigs. This is my most popular pig post - it's our basic guidelines for how we feed out our pigs to butcher weight. We get the pigz in the spring, feed them all summer on a combination of bagged feed/corn, our farm products (goatmilk, eggs, and veg), and pasture. In the fall/early winter we butcher them ourselves. (You can find a lot of good how-to links here.)

We're all stuck in the house dreaming of our summer projects, right? OK so who is going to start with pig this year?  Is it hard? Nope. Can you do it? Yep! What do you need?

1. Really, really, really good fencing. This is the one thing that folks try and skimp on thinking they are smarter than pigz. Nope. The problem is that pigz are very very strong. Way stronger than you - so what you might think is secure is no big deal for them. Get extremely good fencing and then put hotwire on the inside - the strongest charger you can buy.

2. Somewhere to put them. Preferably far, far, far from your house and your neighbors. Run as much hose as you can away from the house. Then buy another hose and put the pigz are the end of it. You'll thank me for it when you don't have to smell those smelly pigz on a hot day.

3. Water. Make sure your hose runs all the way out there. Hauling water for pigz is the pits. It might sound like a good idea but in the summer you'll need a wallow for them to keep cool. They need a lot more water than you think. Then there is this foolishness. Yeah, I had to dump that out and refill it.

4. A feed plan. Sure, you can feed out pigz on bagged hog chow. Many real hog farmers wonder why we bother with our farm products 'n pasture approach. Bagged food will work just fine. You'll get a pig that you can butcher...... but it's just not our bag, baby. We could just buy pork if all we wanted was a commercially raised pig. But we like to stay away from the medicated foods and mostly soy grain diet. Plus, bagged hog chow can be expensive. We are cheap. So doing it our way works out.

5. A safety plan. Pigz can be big, mean, and dangerous. There is a point at which I do not get into the pen with them alone. My hardworking Dog Horde are trained to come with me into the pig yard if I have to go in there. This works for me really well. I also never go into the pig yard without something in my hand to defend myself. I never let them get between me and an exit. And like the ocean, I never turn my back on them. Farming is the most dangerous occupation - and some of that is because you are working with big, sometimes unpredictable animals. So have a plan and work that plan.

I should note that at this point there is always someone who gets all in a fit over my emphasis on having a safety plan. They will start going on and on about "all's you gotta do is snuggle them pigz and then..." Yeah. Well. That's great. If that works or you fine.  But that does not work for me. My husband can walk into the pig yard just fine - but even he has been tumbled over a time or two. Every real hog farmer I know has a story about "that one time." The worst thing that can happen here is if I get hurt. So we are cautious on purpose and if you are not then fine - but why would you try and advise me to be less cautious?

For the record, no I am not afraid of the pigz. Yes, I am "tough" enough. I wield my Dog Horde of big tough hard working occasionally hard to train dogs like a war hammer, I can reduce a grown man to tears, you do not want to get into a name calling contest with me... but to them pigz all I am in bait. So you can go on and snuggle them pigz all you like. I will not. And honestly - I just think I smell delicious and that's why them pigz want a piece of me. So do what works for you.

Remember that you can find a lot more links here - including our step by step butcher guide. Can you raise pigz and then butcher them yourself? Yes you can!

Happy Friday everyone! And now if you will excuse me.. Mr. Underwood will see me now.


Heavens Door Acres said...

Whenever anyone asks me about raising pigs, I tell them , FIRST you need a strong fence WITH electric, SECOND, NEVER, NEVER, go in that pen if you are home alone, unless you have a pistol with you. They WILL eat you if you fall down and they get a chance.

Vera said...

We have an English neighbour who goes on and on about how she can sit down on the ground with her pigs, and they are soooooo friendly, etc...... and does not understand why we are the same as you are round our pigs. The fact is that hers are dinky pigs (Vietnamese pot bellied pigs), and ours are Tamworths. She does not seem to understand that size does make a difference!

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