Looking for a Pig Partner

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - 11:04pm

I think I've talked myself into getting a pig in the near future. I've figured out where the pen will go on my property and (mostly) gotten my wife on board.

Adam Parks from Victorian Farmstead is going to connect me with his sustainably-raised pork provider, who can supply me with a heritage breed piglet.

It takes about 6 months to raise a pig to slaughter age, so I'm thinking of getting one soon (i.e., in January) so the pig is processed before summer vacation season arrives in full force.

But pigs are social animals, and I'm reading that it's better/more humane to raise your pig with at least one other.

So, I'm wondering if anyone in this group would be interested in buying a piglet to be raised along with mine.

From what I hear, a common arrangement is for two folks to buy a piglet each. Person #1 raises the pigs together, providing the land & pen, and managing the care & feeding. Person #2 pays for the feed costs for both pigs. Both folks split the cost of the slaughter and butchering.

That sounds pretty fair to me. I'm game for being Person #1. Anyone here interested in being Person #2?

cheers,

A

 

24 Comments

greendoc's picture
greendoc
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I have done this two years

I have done this two years running and recommend it to people. I am not currently interested as we still have about half a pig in the freezer from 2012.  We just don't eat/like that much pork.  You might want to wait and get a piglet in APril/May window...that is always when we got ours.  Then you have summer/fall garden overflow to feed your piggies. In fact it is the October windfall apples that the pigs feast on as they get the bullet.  Pigs eat alot and your feed bill can be astronomical.  So you might want to investigate alternative food sources to offset feed purchases. It used to be easier to get free waste food to feed pigs, not so much anymore.

I highly recommend Buds custom meats for ranch slaughter and butchering.  Ibletos is good too. I would stay away from Willowside.

If you have room lamb is another option.  And if you do pigs year after year, you need to rotate their pasture, so keep that in mind.

Daniel Judy's picture
Daniel Judy
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Pig Partners

Adam - My wife and I would love to go in on a pig partnership. A couple months ago we split a cow with a friend of ours who raises cattle, so I imagine that by summer we will be ready to eat something besides beef! We've always wanted to raise a pig, but with our chickens and our garden (and a couple pet ducks) we've run out of room. You can email me @ [email protected] if you'd like to talk particulars.

- Dan

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
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After our meeting today at

After our meeting today at TM, it sounds like Adam has plenty of pig partners, but if anyone else is considering the same thing, I'd like to go in on it. I have 2 walnut trees that I could gather tons of nuts from at the end of the year to feed pigs. I bet walnuts would make for some tasty pork...

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Pig pen now under construction

Finally found time to kick the pig pen construction off today.

Key learning: find out if a local salvage/demolition/recycling yard is in driving distance. You can save lots (especially if you care more about function than esthetics).

Today saw:

  • purchasing and pick-up of posts and fence wire
  • mapping of pen dimensions
  • digging post holes
  • confirmation of piglet delivery date (early March) & pricing ($100 per) with local farmer

Dan's coming over later this week to help me affix the fence wire. A second pair of hands is pretty much a necessity here if you want the fencing tight.

Photos to come next week once pen construction is complete.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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one strand of electric fencing nose high

pigs nose not yours.

what breed? we have Tamworths. would love to try Gloucster spot

MarkM's picture
MarkM
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What Robie said

You can move the pen wherever you need the nutrients.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Pig pen construction complete!

Happy to say the pig pen is now constructed! 

Dan came over last weekend and helped me attach the fence wire. I finally found a good gate and installed it this week. (it's from our county's Habitat for Humanity Restore - a great resource if your community has one nearby)

Here's what the finished product looks like:

I've read that a pig needs 100 square feet. This pen contains 840 square feet of space, which will hopefully be plenty for the 2-3 pigs that will call it home until the fall.

The next step is to build the pig house (like a dog house, but larger). I'll be locating it near the back under the white oak tree, so that the pigs can easily find shade when they want.

Then I'll be following Robie's advice and stringing an electric wire around the entire pen, snout high.

More updates as I have them...

nigel's picture
nigel
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I second the hot wire at snout height.

I keep Saddlebacks and Berkshires. Nothing like having a beer with the boar every Friday afternoon. If the electric fence option is too expensive, run a barbed wire along the bottom. It will make them reluctant to push their snouts under the fence.

Fruit and vegetable shops, a bakery or shopping centre will throw away old food just perfect for pigs. I used to take an 8 week year old piglet up every few months in exchange for as many boxes of damaged fruit and vegetables as I could carry each week. Cheapest way to buy food - free.

My golden rule of pigs is they will try to break out if they are hungry. If they aren't hungry, have good water and a wallow, they will never break out. I knew some guys who had a different view, they mixed bran / pollard / wheat up in a 50 gallon plastic drum (rain barrel) with water and let it sit in the sun for a week, then fed the pigs. They basically kept the pigs drunk on pig brew. Those were the fattest and laziest pigs I have ever seen.

Winston Churchill said, 'A cat looks down at a man and a dog looks up at a man but a pig looks a man squarely in the eye.'

Good luck from someone who loves pigs.

Doug's picture
Doug
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Shelburne Farms

I had the pleasure of visiting Shelburne Farms near Burlington, VT a few years ago.  The master gardener gave me a tour of their market gardens that included a portable enclosure for young pigs.  The enclosure was an electric fence about snout high that was powered by a car battery.  The pigs did what pigs do, root up the ground, eat weeds and mix their waste with the soil. They moved the enclosure periodically to create a significant area for new gardens with weeded fertile soil over the course of a summer.  It seemed to work well for them. 

One interesting note; the ground I saw had been completely rooted up with no weeds except for burdocks which appeared to be very healthy despite the rest of the enclosure being a thoroughly mixed wallow. 

The gardener said that the pigs would occasionally escape which I would think would be a problem, given their location near the gardens.  But, he didn't seem to be overly concerned.  They were, of course, in the middle of 1700 acres of their land, minimizing the possibility of the pigs bothering neighbors.

If you have the opportunity, visit the Farms.  It is gorgeous, overlooking Lake Champlain and the gardener was generous with his time and information.

One question, can pigs be herded?

http://www.shelburnefarms.org/

Doug

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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run two wires

one hot and a few inchesbelow a direct ground if the swine touch both wires they get reminded of michael faraday. this does not depend on their footsies being the ground it also protects from lightning blowing the charger.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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OBTW

 this keeps 'em in allways, sept the cute little buggers in their 2nd to 5th week they get under the wire. Ken, our ever vigilant BC herds them back in, so to answer the above question, the piglets have a flocking instinct and can be herded by a BC. (this is a high entertainment activity)

efarmer.ny's picture
efarmer.ny
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My Two Cents

When we have raised pigs we have made a very small starter pen (piglets are small) inside the larger pen. We do this by making a circle of three or so hog panels held in place by metal t-posts.. A temporary electric fence is just inside the hog panels. This guarantees that our critters will learn to respect the electric fence early in their experience in the new location. When I was younger and more agile I could hop over the panels to care for the piglets. Now I just make a little opening in one part of the circle, and prop up a short board behind the electric wire. Then I can step over the board and wire to get in.

In your case, you may want to use one hog panel to make a semi-circle around the opening of your hog-house to have the same effect...get them in contact with the electric wire early.

I hope you are going to run the electric wire in front of the gate and step over the wire to get in the pen. The piglets are going to be too small - they will walk through that gate. And when they get older they will be too strong and will root under it.

The electric wire will have to be raised as the pigs grow. We have successfully used the short metal rod posts with plastic insulators. You just slide the insulator up to the new height.

Remember that pigs are omnivores and will munch on your grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

nigel's picture
nigel
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Doug wrote: One question, can
Doug wrote:

One question, can pigs be herded?

Umm yes and no. You can get behind a pig, but you need some pig boards to make them go in the direction you want.

Forget putting dogs on them, that sends them everywhere.

The easiest way to do it is lead them from the front with food, they will follow for miles.

efarmer.ny's picture
efarmer.ny
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Posts: 63
Loading Strategy

Unless you socialize your pigs extremely well and they follow you anywhere, be sure to think through your loading strategy for slaughter time. I don't know how you intend to transport the grown animals, but I'm not sure a livestock trailer will fit through that gate.

What I would do with your set-up is make a funnel against the right-hand wall of the pen with two hog panels. The end toward your house is wide and it quickly narrows down to something one-pig in width, ending at the gate. The pigs get herded into the wide end of the funnel and do not get a chance to turn around before it is too narrow to do so. Onet person is behind them compelling them forward. Another person has an extra metal t-post that can be inserted through the holes in the cattle panel behind a recalcitrant pig's bottom so that it can push backwards all day but not go anywhere,

If you have had an electric wire in front of the gate, it is quite possible that they will stop at the gate and do everything in their power to keep from touching the wire that they think is still there. We have had to manhandle pigs across that line in the past.

PS: leading from the front with either food or water (even when we have withheld it on purpose) has never worked for us. Your results may vary. But we find that if we can load the pigs on the first shot, it is a much easier process. Since moving to a chute system my life has been much less stressful.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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it will take 3 days

back the trailer or whatever up against the gate. (pigs are smart and curious) open the door and walk off. later throw some non GM cracked corn in the trailer and walk off. next day repeat but stay and watch the proceedings. they'll let you shut the door on day three (it took me 5 days to catch 5 escaped Tamworth pigs). remember those swine may be as smart as a three or four year old.

the tamworths were siblings about 80lbs each and had escaped form a friends farmette in a suburban setting they had a great time rooting up everything from golf greens to flower beds.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Gloucestershire Old Spots

The piglets arrive in 5 days.

We'll be getting 2 Gloucestershire Old Spots, a heritage breed known for its "docility, intelligence, and profligacy"

Electric wire, snout high, with solar charger is installed and working.

I just need to finish the hog house this weekend, and will then be all set to officially become a pig farmer :)

Will share pictures once the piglets arrive.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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and lard

be ready to render pounds of uncious lard from one the most famous producers, Ye Old Gloucester Spotted Hog.

 

You're gonna have fun.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Piglets on their way...

Just got the call the piglets have been loaded into the truck and are on their way. Should be here in 40 minutes.

Will post photos later tonight.

Excited!

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Posts: 3099
The pigs are here

It's official: I'm now a pig farmer.

The piglets arrived today. Getting them set up in their new home has been surprisingly easy (so far).

Below are photos of the arrival process. 

First, the pigs came in a standard dog carrier. They pretty much slept through the ride here, as well as when we hefted the carrier out to their pen:

We set the carrier down in front of the hog house and roused the piglets. They sleepily stumbled up into the straw, plunked themselves down, and went straight back to sleep.

After a while, one of the girls woke up, acting a little anxious. She emerged from the hog house and explored the pen, skittishly sprinting by me whenever she came close. I simply stood still, beginning her conditioning that I won't be a threatening presence.

During her perimeter survey, she discovered that the hot wire installed at snout height is indeed working. I'm really hoping that trains the pigs early on not to try digging under the fence. Time will tell.

As the sun began to set, she returned to the straw and the warmth of her sister. The big move-in day has passed smoothly. Excited to see how things go during the pigs' first full day here tomorrow.

It required a fair amount of preparation to get to this point, but I sense my learning curve is just beginning. Will share my findings as I make them...

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Posts: 3099
Pricing for pig processing

I thought I'd share the costs of slaughtering & butchering for those considering raising pigs.

I'm in process of scheduling a date in the fall for having our 2 pigs processed. Based on greendoc's recommendation, I called the folks at Bud's Custom Meats. Here are the prices they're quoting:

  • home slaughter: $60/pig
  • butchering: $0.85/pound, plus an additional $0.90/pound for any cuts you want smoked (bacon, etc)

I'm awaiting a call back from the fellow who will handle the slaughter, but I'm planning for a mid-October date right now. The goal is to get the pigs to ~250 pounds.

When the processing day comes, I'll record it here for those interested.

JohnofNovato's picture
JohnofNovato
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Posts: 2
pig processing pricing

Adam,

I am raising my first pig to slaughter in the fall. This is our first pig. When people ask me what breed our pig is, I reply, "a Craigslist pig" 

We plan to either process the pig for meat to distribute to friends or  have a big party and roast the pig on a spit.  Either way I will need some help.  Thank you for your post- this is good information

I follow you on twitter- my handle is @JohnofNovato. I am doing the whole garden, chickens (egg and meat) and now pig thing

John

 

JohnofNovato's picture
JohnofNovato
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Posts: 2
Pig Partner

Adam, how did this turn out?

i have a pig ready for harvest and i am trying to figure out about butchering, slaughtering in Marin/Sonoma etc

Thanks

John

johnvs2525's picture
johnvs2525
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I don't know if they can

I don't know if they can help, but you could try calling Thistle Meats in Petaluma.

LeanneBaker's picture
LeanneBaker
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Posts: 29
Some Ideas

John,

In our experience, the most reliable person to call for the slaughtering (done at your place) is John Taylor.  His number is (707) 529-5435.  I know this is an extremely time for him with the County Fair coming up.

We did a pig share a few years ago and the pig was processed at Willowside Meats on Guerneville Road.  The hams were excellent, the bacon okay.  We had sheep for four years and we used both Bud's Meats in Penngrove and Ibletto's on Stony Point.  Both are good.

We also met Matt Elias from True Grass Farms at the Occidental Farmers Market.  He does slaughter, butcher, catering, and farm dinners.  We are thinking about raising a few pigs and I have also thought about doing a pig roast with one of them.  Matt's number is (707) 344-3466.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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