Lessons Learned From Raising Pigs

Up until my daughter was born 16 months ago a common site on my homestead, during the summer, was a couple of pigs in a pen. These pigs were raised strictly for meat, for me as well as extended family and friends. I would pick them up in the spring and feed them grain and garden scraps until they reached butcher weight in the fall. If you have not tasted the deliciousness of fresh home-grown pork you are missing out on something special. Truth be told since my freezers became empty, I have not been able to convince myself to go back to store bought pork chops. I encourage you to try raising your own pigs for meat as the meat is mind blowing. And that leads us to what this blog is about, some helpful tips that come from a guy who made a lot of mistakes.
The first tip that I will give you is to start slow. Before spending the astronomical amount of money, it takes to raise your own pork, get in touch with a local pig farmer and see if he has any pork for sale. A lot of times you can buy fresh pork from your local farmers market so perhaps check your local markets to see if they have any. If you have done that already or you can’t find any meat, get in touch with a local farmer and see if they will raise a pig for you. A lot of small farms tend to do this and will advertise on their social media pages.
At this point if you have decided to take the plunge than you are going to need fencing. This brings me to the second tip which is to go electric instead of pig panels. Electric fences are portable, easy to set up, and keep the pigs from rooting underneath your fence posts. I went with pig panels and spent a lot of money only to regret it. I regretted my decision mostly due to the lack of mobility. Once the pigs got big, they had eaten all of the grass in their enclosure which caused my feed bill to skyrocket. If you are looking to do this on a budget then I suggest maybey even getting a portable electric netting for around $600 USD.
After you have decided on fencing you are going to need an enclosure. This tip is simple, do not skimp on this part! You will need a sturdy enclosure that will provide the pigs both warmth, and shade. Pigs do not have the ability to sweat which is why they need adequate relief from the hot sun. On the other hand, if the pigs get cold, they eat a lot more grain and it is hard for them to put on weight. If you spend the money up front on either materials or a pre-made shelter you will save your wallet some heartache later on.
My fourth and final tip is to find a good butcher and contact them early to set up your butcher date. Good butchers fill up fast and if you do not make an appointment with them right away you may be feeding pigs that have already reached butcher weight. The other side to that is to do some research before you commit to a butcher because there is nothing worse than putting in all that hard work only to get poor cuts and off tasting bacon.
That’s it, now go out and take the plunge in raising your own delicious meat. I hope that all of the lessons that I learned the hard way will help you have an enjoyable experience. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions and be sure to follow my blog for more tips!

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