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Fighting pigs  RSS feed

 
Posts: 44
Location: Near Missoula
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Hey! This is my first post, but I've been on the forums for a while, lurking, learning, and using the search function. Unfortunately the search has failed me here!

My wife and I recently purchased 40 acres in the mountains near Missoula, MT. Eventually we plan to have a small aggroforestry setup ala. Mark Shepherd. So far, we have 6 pigs-2 new KuneKune ladies and 4 kuneXAGH(3 male, 1 female). Porkchop, or X female is the largest of the 4 and has set herself up as the alpha pig. For all her size(maybe 60 lbs?) with her litter mates, she's less than half the size of our Kune sisters, whom my wife has dubbed the Bennet sisters. What she lacks in size, she's desperately trying to make up for in orneriness, pushing and nipping at everyone. The Bennet sisters are no slouches though, and my wife found Porkchop with a bloddied ear yesterday. I would like to keep all 6 pigs around, at least until the X's get a little bigger, but my wife is ready for our first attendees at freezer camp.

I think part of this may just be that everyone is new to each other and a pecking (snorting?) order will naturally establish. Potentially I've underestimated how much food they really need, and they are fighting for resources. The big piggies DEFINITELY drink more water than the smaller, younger X's. I'm not opposed to blocking part of the barn off so the pigs are away from each other for a bit, as we intend to pasture them just as soon as I can get some fencing up, hopefully in the next few weeks. Any other ideas on making the piggies friends? With the kids, we'd just make them sit together and hold hands, but I don't think that would work well here....

Tony and Shelly
Novel Idea Homestead 
 
pollinator
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi Tony;  Welcome to permies! Congratulations on purchasing land and on becoming an aspiring piggy farmer.
There will be a "BOSS HOG",  even if you separate into two herds they would just have 2 boss hogs . I mean after all some piggy has to be in charge...  All it really means is they bully up and eat treats before the other piggys.
If you leave them together they will pick a boss.. this does not mean they will obey him/her all the time ... sort of like round muddy children... there will be the occasional bloody ear or black eye , as long as they leave it at that it will be fine. If they get too carried away then freezer camp it is.
Freezer camp will be better if you have large  fat piggys.
As far as food consider looking at fisher green houses in columbia falls for your bagged or better yet bulk grain.    I plan on my pigs each consuming 800-!000# of grain to full growth.  Plus they get apples ,squash , garden scraps , grubs and the compost bucket
 
thomas rubino
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Posts: 1140
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Tony;  Regarding the freezer camp. Are you planning on butchering yourselves ? An excellent choice, if you can .Were you thinking of using a mobile butcher like I did this last pig? A good choice. Or perhaps you are thinking of trucking them live to a butcher? Also a good choice. If it is the last choice of taking them live to a butcher, then I highly recommend picking your butcher now and scheduling a butcher appointment for the fall . Otherwise you will find they are booked solid thru November and you be feeding piggys into late December.  The colder it gets; your garden ,apples, squash are all gone and  they eat more to stay warm  and gain less. 
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Like Thomas said, they are just going through the pecking order of things, but be aware, when the boar comes of age, He will be the boss and he will at that time let all the ladies know he is the boss hog.

Hogs get into tussles now and then but no one is usually hurt badly, it is all about dominance for food and sleeping arrangements.

Redhawk
 
Anthony Cooley
Posts: 44
Location: Near Missoula
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Thanks Thomas!

I assumed there would be a Boss Hog, I was just hoping they would be a little more civil. maybe that's why they are communists on Animal Farm!! I'll watch things for a few more days and see if it escalates the rest of this week. I'll also try feeding more and see if that tempers things a bit.

We intend to do our own butchering. I've done my own deer and helped with others, so I'm sort of prepared. At lease as far as the holding a tasty dead thing and making it into smaller parts of tasty dead thing.

As far as grain, we have found a local producer who grows and mills his own non-gmo corn and soy-free feed. They are a small operation and aren't selling in many stores but offer 50lb bags and bulk. I would probably buy in bulk to save some money, but I don't have anywhere to keep it yet, and since we are growing just for ourselves and we have smaller, slower growing pigs, I'm treating the grain as more of a supplement/treat and am hoping to wean them down as the pasture becomes more productive.

Tony and Shelly
Novel Idea Homstead
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Kunes and AGH are similar and both prefer to eat grasses over "feed".  Our AGH do not like hay in the winter so for now they are on a Non GMO 12% feed, come grass green-out they will be back on the pasture.
 
Anthony Cooley
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Thanks Bryant! We've gone back and forth on keeping the largest of the boars. Probably size and personality will be the biggest determining factors. Currently, he is too small to mount the larger, much older females, so we may be letting him grow out until closer to fall to wait things out. There are some other Kune breeders/owners near here, so I can get the sows bred without too much trouble/expense.

So far, everyone seems to like the grain mix, and chopping the hay seems to help them eat it. And lots of veggies!! I'm very much looking forward to the grass growing to help cut down on the feed though!

Tony and Shelly
Novel Idea Homestead
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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If you feed them pumpkins, the seeds are a natural wormer and those that don't get ground up by their teeth will grow until they notice them.
winter is the expensive part of raising hogs.  don't forget to rake up and compost their manure (awesome good bacteria growing medium) make sure it is fully composted before using.
We bed ours in straw and I pick everything up and put in the compost heaps when it's time for fresh bedding.

If you haven't eaten any kune pork, oh man, so tender and yum.  Makes great bacon too, I brine our bacon then dry it a week before smoking. Far superior to store bought.

On boar picking, find the one that is lovey, that way he won't become a danger except during estrus, when a sow is ready, that is all that he thinks about and anything in his way or that could be a threat to her, is in danger.
Ours has his tusks but he is a sweetheart most of the time, loves his belly rubs and ear scratches. I just keep a watch on him when one of the sows is in heat.

Redhawk
 
Anthony Cooley
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Haha! I was just looking at pumpkins today, although I didn’t know the seeds were good for them!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hogs will also eat poison ivy or oak leaves as a wormer too. Herbs are how we make sure ours are always healthy in three years we have not needed any "medicines" for them.

The only vegetables ours won't eat are onions, peppers and garlic. Squashes, Tomatoes, Lettuces, Avocadoes and Green Beans are their favorites and will go first when we get the grocery store produce toss outs.
 
Posts: 36
Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
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Anthony Cooley wrote:Hey! This is my first post, but I've been on the forums for a while, lurking, learning, and using the search function. Unfortunately the search has failed me here!



Congrats on your first post - always good to read of other peoples pigging experiences, successes and challenges! We've only been raising critters (pigs first then poultry with a brief interlude with goats who ended up in the freezer) for 3 years, so we are definitely still novices.

I can only offer a few observations from our own experiences:
  • Very wise to select one boar to keep. Your young boars would definitely fight, and from about 5-6 months old they will fight hard to establish dominance particularly as soon as any of the females start coming into season. 
  • When we have raised shoats for slaughter we have put them in with our breeding boar - there is no question of his dominance and while they may play fight among themselves he keeps them in line.
  • Similarly we have raised gilts in paddocks with one of our breeding sows, even when the momma sow has been pregnant, so there are no dominance issues.
  • When we got our first 4 gilts, and later our own young boar, we made a conscious decision to handle them a lot - like 1 or 2 hours a day when they were young - so they did respond to being broken up if fighting too hard, or given a good tap if they bit us. Our boar and breeding sows are 250+kg now and my son and I can do teeth/body/pregnancy/teats checks with no problems - we have even slept in their shelters in -14C winter to do a temperature experiment about the heat inside their nests!
  • We let our boar run with whichever sow is either pregnant or has a weaning litter - we remove the boar just before farrowing but only for a few days.  When their are multiple litters the piglets usually have access to the boar and the other sow, and the sows will cross-feed with no apparent ill-will.


  • I would have to stress, with your boar, that you do take a lot of time handling him, hand feeding him, getting him used to tummy rubs, checking his teeth, picking the mud out his eyes and ears, etc... calling him to get treats other than at feed time.  Our boar lets us stand right next to him at mating (see video below) and most recently he broke one of his tusks digging up a large rock, and while my son rubbed his belly I opened his jaws and applied clove oil all around the busted tooth stem and his gum - he hardly responded at all.



    And as for worming, we worm all our critters (dogs, chickens, ducks, geese, pigs) with a home made mixture of tobacco, ground dry roasted garlic, turmeric and diametaceous earth.  We try and grow as many pumpkins and indeed most other squashes and melons as we can (and scrounge them from others in the village) to feed the livestock because of their powerful anthelmintic properties. Pumpkins store really well over winter.  The only time we have had to use any medication was for a sow that had mastitis.

    As I said, we haven't been doing it long, have learned loads from these forums as there are some very knowledgeable, experienced and generous spirited members here.  We wish you every success with your pigs - we love having them, raising them and eating the delicious produce - we hope you will too!

    Oh - and my top site for general pig-keeping anecdotes, ideas and common sense is Walter Jefferies (he is very active in these forums) at Sugar Mountain Farm.

    Just for interest I've attached a few piggy pics just for fun

    Best of luck!
    IMG-20170107-WA0033.jpg
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    Winter litter, farrowed in that open shelter temps -11C to -18C
    IMG-20171012-WA0011.jpg
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    Our young boar, nearly 2 years old, about 240kg
    promises_2017_69.jpg
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    Nice litter, 14 born, 12 survivors
    WhatsApp-Image-2017-09-15-at-6.43.42-PM(1).jpeg
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    An arty picture by my son - cute though
    IMG-20170802-WA0015.jpg
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    Happy sow and piglets
     
    Anthony Cooley
    Posts: 44
    Location: Near Missoula
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    Thanks for the post Nick! I really enjoy spending time with the pigs and am hoping to end up with really nice piggies!

    What breed of pigs do you keep?
     
    Nick Truscott
    Posts: 36
    Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
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    chicken dog duck cooking pig wood heat
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    Anthony Cooley wrote:Thanks for the post Nick! I really enjoy spending time with the pigs and am hoping to end up with really nice piggies! What breed of pigs do you keep?



    Hi Anthony, there are very limited breed choices here in Bulgaria - none of the heritage breeds you might find readily available in UK, USA or other European countries.  The standard "village" pig is the Bulgarian White, and the main commercial producer pig seems to be a Landrace hybrid.  Our young Boar BlackJack is an East Balkan Black x Landrace.  The East Balkan Black is the only pedigree heritage pig of Bulgaria and protected under law - you can only keep it in some places.  Our remaining breeding sow is a Bulgarian White, although she is black with white socks and a white blaze on her snout.
     
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