Raising any animal in your backyard can be both fun and a chore. Pigs are no exception. Pigs have specific requirements that other animals may not need.
In this article, I will share with you what you need to know to raise a pig in your backyard. If you have raised other animals, some things will be familiar to your. But some things will be different, because pigs are unique.
How much space do you need?
Pigs are used to running around freely on a farm or out in the wild, so it’s very important to give them enough space even if you’re raising them in your backyard.
Ideally, you should give your pig at least 10 square feet of space to roam around in. But you should make it as big as possible for your pig to feel comfortable living in your backyard. The more pigs you raise, the bigger the space you’ll need.
If you live in the suburbs and your backyard is spacious enough for a large dog to run around, then you have enough space to raise one pig.
If you live in the countryside, a half acre space would be perfect for a couple of pigs to roll around and walk in.
How do you make pig bedding?
Since your pigs will be living outdoors, you’ll need to provide them with good bedding for comfort and warmth. Thankfully, pigs are not as messy as horses, goats, chickens or cows. You can expect them to keep their bedding clean as long as you designate a proper resting area for them.
Straw is still the most popular material for creating pig bedding because it’s accessible, cheap, and comfortable enough for pigs to lie on. It also absorbs moisture pretty well and has excellent thermal properties. This will let your pigs keep themselves warm while resting, even if they are living outdoors.
Barley and wheat straw are two of the most common types of straws used for pig bedding. Barley is soft and not dusty, but it’s also the least absorbent among all straws.
Wheat, on the other hand, has wider, yet brittle stalks. It’s more absorbent than barley. Other options include oat straw, triticale straw, and rye straw.
Now if you don’t have easy access to straw, which could be challenging since you’ll be using it constantly, you can try using elephant grass or miscanthus. It composts down quickly and it absorbs water and moisture very well. Woodchip or coarse wood shavings can also be used for pig bedding because of their texture and absorbent capabilities.
These materials are also very cost-efficient. Because they are by-products from joineries and processing plants, they are usually given away for free. So if you live in an area where there are manufacturing sites and processing plants, you can try to ask them about woodchips and they’ll likely give it to you for free.
Whatever material you choose, try to designate an area in your backyard for bedding so your pigs will know where they should rest and where they can eat and go to the bathroom.
What is the ideal shelter for pigs in the backyard?
Although your pigs are living in your backyard, you still need to provide adequate shelter to protect them from changing environmental conditions that could make them sick.
Pigs are especially sensitive to extreme weather conditions like snow and heat. You need to build a shelter where there’s adequate ventilation during the summer and proper protection during the cooler months.
Ideally, you would need at least 20 square feet of shelter space for one pig. This will give it enough room to lie down and move around while having the best protection from any kind of weather. Most people who raise pigs in their backyard build a three-sided shelter that keeps the animals dry and comfortable at all times.
These shelters should have designated areas for sleeping, feeding, and defecating to separate the wet and dry areas. This will also make the space easy to clean and maintain.
What should you feed your pigs?
It’s no secret that pigs love to eat and they will literally take everything that they see, even if it’s trash. So if you want your pigs to feed well, you need to establish a good eating routine for them and offer them food that’s good for their diet.
Ideally, your pigs should have a diet that’s rich in fiber and low on sugar and meat. Although you can now buy commercial feeds for your pigs, a natural diet is still the best way to make sure they are healthy.
Fruits and vegetables are especially ideal for pigs as long as they’re given in the right quantities. Some of the best options that you can feed your pigs include cooked broccoli, cooked potatoes, dark leafy greens, apples, oranges, carrots, pumpkins, melons, and zucchinis.
Now, if you don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables or they’re too expensive in your area, you can go for pig pellets. This will still provide them with the nutrients they need to grow well. Any type of pig pellet is good for domesticated pigs, but there are some varieties that are made specifically for some types of pigs.
You should also invest in troughs that you can place on the ground or fence where your pigs can eat their food and drink water. Make sure to clean and change the troughs regularly to avoid mold or algae buildup that could be harmful to your pigs.
How can you build a fence for your pigs?
Pigs are known to be escape artists, which is why it’s very important to build a fence around your backyard to keep them contained within the space. Hog panels area ideal if you are raising your pigs in a smaller space because they don’t take up much room, but still provide a good barrier for your pigs.
But if you are raising your pigs on bigger land, you may want to invest in an electric fence. It would effectively deter your pigs from getting too close to your property’s perimeter. It’s a more cost-efficient option. Also, it looks a lot better than traditional hog panels.
You need to choose the right materials to make sure your fencing will last for a long time. This way you don’t have to constantly spend time and money on replacing it.
Take some time before you get your pig and prepare. Designate enough space in your backyard for your pig. Create a shelter and bedding that will both protect your pig and allow it to rest well. Finally, install adequate fencing that will keep your pig from escaping, and ultimately, safe.