Raising Pigs on our Homestead!
lining up to eat!
Raising Our Homestead Pigs in the Winter
By Crystal Miller
Raising pigs is something that most people associate with spring time. Usually you buy your pig in the spring and fatten them up for butchering in the fall. However we consistently seem to not be like “most people” ~smile~ and have begun a winter pig raising venture.
The idea behind raising pigs in the winter for us was to see if we could get more than one goal accomplished. The first goal was of course our own hams, bacon and pork chops for our freezer. The second goal was an almost weed free garden next spring.
As I was reading and studying up on raising pigs in the winter I actually found that this was not to terribly uncommon. Many people have the same goal as we do; pork for the freezer and a weed free garden.
I have quite a large garden and each year it seems the weeds have gotten worse and worse. I read an article that talked about raising pigs during the winter in the garden so that they could root and till and eat up all the weeds. So far I would have to say that our pigs are doing a fantastic job of doing just that! At the same time we have the added benefit of organic, natural fertilizer being added to the soil by them as well.
As we were setting up for our pigs we were trying to think “multi-purpose” with whatever plan we came up with. Tobin, my husband, built a 16 ft. long hoop house green house in the garden. This had actually been something we had wanted to do for several years anyway. He reinforced the sides of the greenhouse with plywood so that it could withstand a 200+ pound pig rubbing his back on it! The green house is 8 feet wide. Across the center of the green house he built the feed trough and put in two rails above it so that the pigs live in half of the house and I have the other half of the house to store feed bags, straw, any needed items and a place to get out of the rain and cold to feed them.
For water we have a 55 gallon plastic barrel that has a paddle bowl attached to it. This is the kind of watering bowl where the pig presses his nose against the paddle and it releases water into the bowl for them to drink. We fill up the barrel about every other day for our 5 pigs.
The garden is already fenced, but knowing that a pigs favorite thing to do is root under the fences to obtain a bit of freedom, much to their owners dismay, we added electric fence too. We have 4 strands of electric fence, wired negative, positive, negative, positive to prevent them from rooting dirt on the wires and shorting them out. Pigs are easily trained to electric fence and it only took a few experiences of getting zapped to teach our pigs what their boundaries were.
I will be giving you my summer garden report later in the year to tell you if this project has been a success. However I am certain it will be a success in filling the freezer for us!
The set up
The hoop house green house/pig shelter
Playing in the garden
Our Little Farm