I've not had a large number of chickens sharing with the pigs, but a lot of my pig groups have a handful of chickens with them and they work it out. It's pretty common to see the chickens roosting on the pigs themselves. In that kind of scenario, I assume the pigs are going to be getting the eggs instead of me.
Keeping chickens with pigs is at least as good and probably better than following them.
I don't lock my chickens up - the dogs and pigs are both pretty good at keeping predators away.
Amos Burkey wrote:I am expecting a couple of litters in August and I am utilizing rotational grazing with a two wire electric fence. I am looking for some information and ideas about how to work with the piglets. How do you configure your system to work with the piglets?
Do a physical barrier fence and use the wires inside that at first to train them - once they are trained, they'll be easily contained.
Weaner piglets are always more jittery - after a couple weeks they'll calm down and get used to you and they'll be easy to work with, but when they first arrive, they have no 'home base' so if they get out they just go for the nearest tree stand or dense cover. Once you have the herd trained to the fence, even if one escapes they are more likely to head back in than they are to travel very far.
Noel Deering wrote:Very informative, thank you. I hope to raise hogs someday, and this type of thing helps greatly. To be able to see exactly what to expect, and even the little things like, "Oh, on a pallet, great idea." Very helpful for a beginner like myself. Thanks
You mentioned oak savannah; where are you?
US midwest - we're in southern Iowa specifically. I have a lot to learn before I can restore landscape to that level, but I'm finally feeling like I'm on track to make real progress.
If you are interested in raising pigs and are on facebook, check out the group 'pastured pigs' - it's a group I started to educate and promote raising pigs this way. Lots of great information there.
They are very visual creatures, and also very space oriented. Your problem of them not crossing where the fence used to be even though it's gone is a common one. Give them a visual queue perpendicular to the old fence line that is new and different and that helps them register that it's ok to cross. Once one or two come through the rest are more willing to follow. If you notice in the video I was considering just waiting them out but I said 'that'll take forever' then I bent down the grass and got one of the smaller pigs to follow enough to cross the line which kicked off the rest of them.
We ended up with a few outside the perimeter of the new paddock - their herd instinct is strong enough that those managed to jump or go under the fence on their own to get with the others. Your results may vary, so don't rely on that
Part of it is also definitely training - the first few times they move are harder, but it gets easier. I've had groups of pigs bunch up in non-existant corners unwilling to cross an imaginary line before. I've also experimented with turning the fence off - my berkshires would go for a week with it off and still respect it, the ossabaws don't take nearly as long.
First - this is a short video of how I prefer to move pigs between paddocks. It takes a bit of time to set up, but I mow a path, then set up a section of electronet on each side (not charged). The pigs then follow me (and a bucket of food) without wandering too far off course. Makes for simpler trouble free moves.
We raise Ossabaw Island pigs specifically because they are only a handful of generations away from the wild pigs still on Ossabaw Island, and they still have genetics and behaviors that are more 'piggy' than other domesticated breeds - this allows them to interact with their environment the way a pig is supposed to rather than the way we've bred them to.
This is a short video tour of one of our pastures after they have been on it for 2 weeks, and a discussion of why and how we are planning our rotations. You can see the areas they hit very hard that are ready for reseeding with better forage, and the areas where they created 'intermediate disturbance'. This is less about care of pigs than it is about care of land, so I opted to post it here instead of in the pig section. The youtube page has a few notes about the video as well.
I finally got sick of our power bill about a year ago and started using a kill-o-watt and a few other things to try to track down our usage. We have a lot of stock tank heaters than run for part of the year, and that had masked some things, but it was obvious there was a problem.
We changed two things and that cut our power useage in half across the board.
First, and most relevant, we began using our wood stove to dry clothing in winter, and a line in summer, instead of our electric dryer. That alone halved our power usage in almost all months - 3 farm kids and cloth diapers was really taking a toll on us that I didn't realize.
Second, and less relevant to most people, was sizing our stock tank heaters appropriately.
I was using 1000 watt heaters - I did some experimenting and found that 500 watt heaters worked just as well. Now I put one of each in the tank and plug in the 1000 watt heaters only if it freezes up (we got to -20 without windchill a few times this year). I'll be building passive solar tanks as well, but in the meantime I have to be sure I can water the animals in that kind of weather.
Thought that would be of interest here. We have done some small things here and there as well, but these were pretty simple to accomplish and have added up a lot already.
Denise Garretson wrote:I'm working on a design for a friend. They have a round paddock that was used for horse by previous owners. It has a packed gravel base. someone told them to run pigs in it to till it and loosen the gravel. Just wondering how well it would work. I know pigs are good tillers, but thinking packed gravel might be a bit rough on them. All advice welcome.
They don't work for free - They probably can till up gravel like that, but they won't do it just to do it. If you were to seed it with corn and put some large pigs on there you might have some success.
That depends to some extent on what you mean by 'packed gravel'.
A pig's natural instinct is not to destroy - it's to graze and decompact in spots distributed throughout an area then move on.
I've certainly had them till up paddocks, but they'd rather be doing this...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vbPhMeRXuk&feature=youtu.be
Clearly I don't know the spot, but I'm thinking you might have better success by feeding cows on a round bale in there for a bit, then planting some deep taproot stuff in that, then cycling pigs and cattle through it alternating. The pigs are going to be a lot more likely to dig up some daikon radish than they are just randomly to dig up the gravel.
thomas rubino wrote: Chad; when i came home from work this evening, i checked on the pigs first thing and he was definitely worse, way more lethargic, found him sleeping in their straw pile inside and he let me walk rite up touch him ,did not drink while standing at the water, no grain on his snout from eating . luckily my wife saw your post and called the vet earlier today, antibiotics are on the way ! I will post more info as soon as i can. thank you for responding.
No problem - keep a bottle around in the future for cases like this. It lasts a long time.
My wife did a post on some basic wound care and what to keep in a simple animal emergency kit a while back. It's probably not complete, but you might look through it and see if there is anything else helpful. Having all this stuff on hand will save an animals life someday if you don't already have a kit like this.
thomas rubino wrote:Hi all; Just got my three piggys for the summer, normally i get apx 8 week old weiners. This year due to a shortage of pigs here in montana, i was delivered 3 roasting size pigs (same price as wieners) all 3 are barrows and were cut only the day or so before i got them. one of them has fairly large swollen area, another has a much smaller swelling and the last has almost no swelling at all. The piggy with the most swelling is less active than the other two, he eats & drinks fine, his poop is regular & solid (other two are softer) his pee is clear. I get my pigs from the same place every year and they have always been youngsters before and any boys were cut before i got them, never any sign of swelling. I wonder if this normal for an older piggy who is more developed than a young weiner ? I can talk to my vet by phone ,but to have him visit is an $80 bill plus any meds. taking piggy to him is 1 1/2 hour drive one way. my current plan is wait a week or so and see how he is doing but thought i would check with the experts here also. Thank you tom
Sounds like an infection from the castration. Usually when that happens it's localized, and the swelling doesn't cause problems - but if they start getting lethargic, or the swelling gets very large it's best to give AB. Our vet recommends penicillin G which you can get at a lot of farm stores or from a vet. Directions are on the bottle - in some cases the vet may recommend more than the recommended dose.
You may have only a few days with the lethargic one - once they get to that point they can (not always, but sometimes) succumb quickly to it. Once you start treatment they mend up fast.
A 400 pound sow will have a lot more fat built up than the 180 pound pig. A lot of old farmers ask me at market stands if I have 'any second year sows that didn't settle'...they always ask it in a way that seems off hand, as if they're just curious. Really what they are trying to do is get the tastiest pig I have for a lowball price. I don't blame them
My wife is currently at a retreat on Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia. She's been posting pictures from walks she's been taking...
The pig in the picture is a wild Ossabaw island pig - the same breed we raise. They are interesting animals - one of the rarest pig breeds, and also one of the most recently domesticated. They still retain most of the foraging characteristics that their wild counterparts have - much different than most domesticated pigs.
I wouldn't make it a regular part of their diet, but I doubt it will hurt them. As far as coccidiosis goes, that's very species specific - raising pigs and chickens together will actually cut down on the parasite in both species to some extent. One of the best ways to cut down on parasite load is to run different species over the same patch of grass so the species specific stuff dies in the wrong host.
My chickens are in and out of the pigs area pretty often when I have pigs near them - we've never had any trouble.
Given what they are eating though, If it's been a large percentage of their diet, I'd be very tempted to seperate them from the chickens for 3-4 weeks and feed them something a little more conventional.
Pigs can pig up flavors from what they eat - I don't know if that would happen with chicken poop, but I wouldn't want to risk it.
We've used soap nuts for years - there are some times we need something stronger, what with three kids and a farm, but the vast majority of the time they work great.
We boil water and pour it over them to make a tea instead of running them through the washing machine in little bags like some of the places selling them recommend. The tea method lets you get more use out of the nuts, control the dosage more, and makes them last much much longer.
Any interesting observations about them? I've noticed mine are very curious and vocal. I'll be moving them to a more wooded paddock soon now that I've got them trained to the electric - I'm excited to see their behavior in a more natural setting than the all grass pasture I've got them in now.
I don't have any specific updates - so far I like them, but I've only had them for a few weeks. Apart from what you can find here, I can recommend this facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/pasturedpigs/ we've got producers with just about every breed I've heard of being raised on small farms including the more rare ones like Ossabaw or KuneKune.
I'll be planting at least some American Chestnut throughout parts of my pasture for that specific reason - they have a nice broad shaded area once mature and what I can't gather the pigs will. Planned on ordering from these folks - http://www.redfernfarm.com/
Also, I've found it takes my Berks a while to get used to a food that's a lot different than one they've seen before. Shell them and mix them with the regular food a few times and I suspect they are shelling them on their own before too long.
As far as being trained goes...the wire you can see here has been unplugged for a week. Younger pigs seem to want to test that more, but if they grow up around it and/or have some bigger pigs that have in the same pen they don't seem to test it too much once they know where it is.
As far as charger power goes, pigs are huge wusses...you are buying a bigger charger based on needing it to push through grass/brush and not based on needing to have enough juice to convince them...so they are much easier to contain than sheep (for example).
Terri Matthews wrote:If you do not shut your birds in at night, varmints will pick them off while they sleep. I have heard that chickens are easier to confine at night than guineas are.
If you have more than one rooster they might fight. Not always: we had 2 roosters that were raised together, and the dominant one pecked the weaker one every time I let them out in the morning but that was it.
I've been able to train my dogs well enough that I no longer lock up my layer flock or my ducks. They do still go to shelter each night, and I'd certainly agree it's important to train them to do so.
I've noticed that when I have more than one rooster the dominant one has tended to end up more aggressive to the humans on the farm - that could have been luck of the draw, but it's happened two or three times now. The less dominant rooster also ended up bullied really badly which I also wasn't happy with.
I'll also throw my lot in with the folks suggesting peafowl aren't the right choice here - chickens are the mainstay of farm birds for a good reason. Peafowl are an oddity, and fun for the kids, but they aren't going to get the work done that a flock of chickens will. Guineas would be my second choice generally, but if you get them trained to stay around instead of flying away the guineas will be less susceptible to predation.