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Pigs guarding chickens?

 
Stefan Enzian
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Hi,
I recently was at an sepp holzer excursion and one thing that he casually mentioned struck me as especially interesting: he has a combined chicken coop & pigpen, where the pigs guard the chicken so no predatory animal dares to enter to get one of the chickens. This saves work as he dosenĀ“t need to open and close the coop every morning and evening.

Does anyone has experience with this kind of setup? Does it really work this way?

Thanks!
Stefan
 
Wyatt Smith
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6
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I'm planning to try it.  Chickens are quick enough to evade pigs as long as they don't get pinned against a fence or something.  I can see a secure chicken coop inside a pig paddock.  The pigs only need a single electric wire about 12" high.  The chickens can jump over it.  Well fed pigs are not very predatory, but they might play rough with the chickens if its too easy.
 
                    
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Our pig runs free with the other animals.  I see it napping with the goats.  If I walk around on the back fourty, the pig follows me like a dog. 
Nothing that sepp holzer does will ever surprise me.  What kind of predators does he have to contend with?  A fox maybe, or mardens?  I have not lost any of our free ranging chickens that were roaming in the woods. When we locked them up in a hen lot here comes a chickenhawk.  I saved a chicken's life, since I happened to be close. In the woods the hawks do not see the chickens.  Our GPs  presence keeps four footed predators away.  One of the pigs though, we got rid of her,  broke into the momma sheep pen and kidnapped a new born lamb. She was strong as an ox to break the gate.  Right now our chickens are kept in the orchard.  we got a new gate and they can walk under it, so no free ranging until that is fixed chicken proof.  I want to keep them in the orchard  at least part time for orchard hygiene.  they did a great job eating the worm infested peach windfalls.
 
Wyatt Smith
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6
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I tried this and it worked.  At least the pigs did not harm any chickens.  I can imagine several potential problems, but I did not observe any. 

Pigs who are well fed are pretty calm.  Scavenging and hunting are totally different behavior, so while our pigs have eaten dead chicken before, they don't associate live animals with food.  The pigs were curious about chickens, but the chickens would not hold still in front of a pig snout.  I observe hens freezing for the mating stance all the time, but they didn't do it in front of the pigs while I was watching so I don't know what would happen.  I also wonder how brave predators are...  most predators could probably sneak past the hogs, or make an easy escape if detected.  But presumably many predators are not desperate enough to try it. 
 
Peri Ledo
Posts: 15
Location: southern Spain
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I just came up with a similar idea, and came to the forum looking for feedback. I'm glad some have tried it already.
My original plan was to surround the rabbitry with the chicken ranging area and this with the pen for pigs. I thought it wouldn't work if pigs and chicken were together, but now I see I could save on fencing there. My main concern regarding predators are cats, foxes and snakes. How good would be pigs keeping them at bay? Should I look for any particular breed more prone to hunting?
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I have personally watched pigs take live chickens.

Pigs are smarter than chickens. They cannot catch a chicken, and they know it. They learned to stand still, and not move. The chickens would walk right up to them to grab some food, and the pig would lunge out and snap the head off...easy pickings after that.

The pigs were well fed, and had abundant protein...we fed the herd about 100 dozen eggs per day.
I think they were doing it more for sport than for food...they didn't always eat the "prize".

 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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The basic idea of rings of defenses might be good but the idea of penning is bad. Far better to free range the animals on pasture. We have an outer perimeter electric fence along the stone walls. Our livestock guardian and herding dogs guard all the livestock within that area. Any predators that enter get eaten by the dogs. Word gets around and the smart predators stay out. The livestock can then freely graze under a good managed rotational grazing system which results in gradual improvement of the soils and is a lot less work than penning. Additionally, by doing managed rotational grazing the dung and urine is deposited to fertilize the pastures. Pens are the antithesis, building up nutrient overloads and being too much work.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Joshua Chambers
Posts: 71
Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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John Polk, I am curious what breed of pigs were those that were sporting on your chickens?

I, too, am planning to try pigs and chickens together (with roosts and nesting boxes up high in the barn along the walls, with the main area there for the pigs. I figure pigs won't want chickens DIRECTLY above them shitting on them while they roost) in a rotational scheme. I'm designing barns specifically to house both, and my basic plan involves one small barn at the hub between each four paddocks, with the entire system comprising six of these barns, 24 paddocks, each 1/2 acre each.

--Joshua
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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What breed? They were basically Barnyard X Barnyard .

Politics + idiotic economical laws meant we couldn't sell eggs for more than we charged 6 months ago, even though inflation was running at 2,700%. Even though we raised 80% of their feed, we could only sell the eggs for less than it cost us to raise them. Owners traded a bunch of hens, plus eggs for a small herd of hogs, which quickly ended up being about 100. With 27,000 hens, we had lots of eggs to feed them their daily "protein pills".


 
Renate Howard
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Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Our dog has started herding the chickens into the pig pen. It's made of cattle panels so the chickens can come and go. The pigs are potbelly so they're less aggressive and they've not harmed any of the chickens. I can't imagine anything going into the pig's pen to eat a chicken! We're trying to figure out how to design a chicken house they can sleep in at night that's in the pig's pen now. It has to be durable/strong because pigs are hard on stuff - they flip things, move them around, rub on them, etc. And once they find out there are eggs inside...
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Consider putting the chicken house up out of the pig's reach. We have this. Roosts in the upper part of the open shed. Woosels will still attach chickens in such a space and pigs do nothing to defend the chickens. Our dogs are the negotiators - they eat predators and pests.
 
Jenn Andersen
Posts: 8
Location: Alturas, CA
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never mind, question answered...
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://permies.com/battery
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