Growing and raising our own food is extremely important to our family. Raising pigs on our homestead plays a huge role in that. Growing our own pork is not just about the end goal of filling the freezer, it has much to do with entire process of raising them from a piglet to a full grown, butcher weight pig. Learning how to raise pigs was one of the best choices we made for our homestead.
I really enjoy watching the pig’s antics as they play together and just do their piggy thing. I am quite fond of the
fat beasts little cuties. I always have some mixed emotions when they head off to freezer camp. That’s the nice way of saying butcher time.
While I will miss the pigs, I am grateful for the nourishment that they will provide my family for months to come. The satisfaction that comes from raising your own food is unexplainable. It is also a great feeling to look in your freezer and see it stocked full of nutritious food that you and your family have worked hard to raise.
7 Tips for Raising Pigs
Name them food names–
This may seem odd to some but it helps separate the animals that stick around the farm from the animals destined for freezer camp. We’ve had pigs named Biscuit, Gravy, Pork Chop (etc…), and……. well, Pigby. I know, Pigby isn’t a food name but that’s what one of the Farm Kids called one and it stuck.
By naming the animals we plan to use for meat as food names, it help differentiate them in our minds. We can keep a level of attachment that makes it easier to say goodbye to them.
Have a good fence–
Be sure that your fence is pig proof. If you use electric fence, be sure it is hot and that it works. Pigs are good at getting out. Pigs+escaped=bad news. (This is a good charger here)
Keeping your pigs in is definitely a good idea. Having a hot fence or strong panels will help enable you to be successful in doing so. Pigs can be good at getting out. They seem to think that the grass is always greener on the other side.
Don’t chase them–
If they do get out, DO NOT chase them. I repeat DO NOT chase them. Bad idea, trust me, I know. Use some feed and lure them back in. Pigs are very food motivated, imagine that!
If you chase a pig, you’ll never catch it and they just keep running. You can’t really herd pigs. Our farm kids have lassoed a pig or two when they’ve escaped but we usually just get them to follow us with feed.
Have a plan–
It is easy to rush into getting farm animals without putting a lot of thought into it. Once you are set up and ready for raising pigs, you need to have a plan for what’s next.
What will you feed the pigs? How much water will they need access to? How long will you raise them before butchering them? Will you process them yourself or have a butcher do it? All of these questions need to be considered and have an answer to them.
Once you have your great plan in place, you are ready to get your pigs!
You need to decide if you will process the pigs yourself or have a butcher do it for you. If you do it yourself, you need to educate yourself on how to butcher a pig and on what tools, supplies, and equipment you need. If you decide to use a professional butcher, you will need to schedule well in advance. Many butchers are booked up for a couple of months.
You also need to figure out how much it will cost you to have the pig processed. The butcher will have a cut sheet for you to fill out of what cuts you want, how much you want ground, etc…….. Many butchers will let you provide your own seasoning mix for your sausage to ensure that you know what is in your food. Be sure to have ample amount of freezer space to store the meat once you get it home.
Expect things to NOT go as planned–
This is true for any homesteading venture. It may also ring true for many things in life in general. My best advice is plan for the worst and hope for the best.
You can usually find yourself somewhere in the middle when it is all said and done. I count that as success. You just never know what will happen when you’re raising pigs.
Always expect the unexpected.
Enjoy the ride–
This is one of my mottos in life. It is so easy to focus on getting from point A to point B. It is vitally important to take time each day to enjoy the moment. Have fun watching your little piglets grow into fat hogs.
If you haven’t had experience raising pigs before, this is the best thing I could tell you from my experience. If you have raised pigs, you may agree with what I have said or have some other advice to add.
Raising pigs is one of my favorite parts of farm life. I never knew I’d grow up to be a pig farmer but I’m sure glad I did. I’m also glad I can share this pig raising experience with my children.
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed raising pigs for years now. From the time we get the little piglets to the time we butcher them ourselves, we are all heavily invested in them. The lessons and experiences go far beyond just raising food, they reach to all aspects of growing good character in life.
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