The extreme temperatures of the winter months can intimidate anyone considering adding pigs to their homestead. When we started raising pigs for meat, I never thought they would be able to survive (and stay healthy) when the thermometer hit ten degrees, nevermind negative two. But after doing some research, I quickly learned that it's really simple and pretty cheap to keep your hungry friends happy all winter long. "Round Pig," (affectionately named by my hubby) is the last of our hogs. Since she hasn't made it to the freezer with the rest of her friends, it's our job to keep her healthy and comfortable until it's time to butcher her.
Housing for a pig doesn't have to be extravagant, and you can likely find many items you need laying around your property. Before spending money on new items, search your sheds and check with your neighbors for materials they no longer want. In the end, our pig's shelther cost us roughly $20; that's about the cost of furring strips, screws and a few pieces of wood from the local hardware store.
Where did the rest of the materials come from?
Back wall - wood shipping pallette
Roofing - scraps from our neighbor's porch addition
Paneling & scrap wood - free on Craigslist
Woven wire fencing - found on our farm/leftover from another project
Waterproof plastic sheeting - found on our farm/leftover from another project
This structure has served us well, accomodating a few different groups. You can use a shelter this size to comfortably house:
10 piglets up to about 8 weeks in size
6 feeder pigs up to about 80 lbs each
4 pigs up to about 150 lbs each
2 hogs up to about 250 lbs each
Once you've got your structure figured out, it's important to make sure that you have proper bedding. We use hay, making sure there is enough for the pigs to have a dry sleeping area. Your pigs should be able dig in and make themselves a little bed or even burrow under the hay a bit and cover themselves with a would-be blanket. If you look in the picture to the left, you can see where Round Pig has made herself a little bed in her house. Please note that you can add much, much more bedding than you see in Round Pig's house; you only need room for your pig to get out of the weather. If we weren't just about to butcher her, this house would be very full. If you're using hay, like we do, be sure to take a regular inventory of the bedding. You'll need to continually add to it due to wear, matting and just general snacking.
Warm water is another way to help your pigs during extreme temperatures. Offering your pigs (other other animals) warm water will help them conserve the calories that they need to stay warm. Filling their water bowls or troughs twice a day is a great routine. And it's not enough to just provide food and water, but they need to have access to it. Keep a path cleared for you pigs. This will ensure they can get to their water and food, as well as have some room to stretch.
Do you raise pigs? Or are you considering it? We'd love to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts or questions in the comments!
Thrifty Thursday 1-17-13