Posts Tagged ‘Grow It Yourself’

Did any of you read the article “Babes in the Burbs”  in the Irish Times on Friday about keeping pigs?

It gave an interesting insight into the numbers of pig keepers there are in the country. And the numbers are growing all the time.  When we first started to keep pigs 2 years ago it was possible to get your ‘pig herd number’ in a matter of weeks, now it takes much longer.

Given that there is so much interest in ‘Grow Your Own’ be it pigs or vegetables, I thought I would share some of our adventures (and some misadventures) since we started to keep pigs.

These are things we’ve learned over the past 2 years!

Feeding pigs:  As it said in the article on commercial farms they get their pigs to weight by 16 weeks.  Ours take a lot longer to get to a similar weight. We feed our guys a mix of barley (locally grown), vegetables (waste from a local market gardener), organic pig ‘finisher’ and when we can some organic whey.

3 generations having dinner together!

I had an interesting conversation with an old friend the other day who wanted to get a suckling pig from us.  He has had suckling pig previously and asked me how much notice I needed to ‘prepare’ the pig.  I didn’t understand his question. Eventually I discovered that when he bought before he had to give 3 weeks notice so the pig could be weaned off anti-biotics!

He was nicely surprised when he discovered that we don’t feed our pigs anti-biotics, unless they are sick!

Pig Hygiene: There is a myth out there that pigs are dirty and smell.  Let me tell you it is a myth. Pigs are very clean about their house – if they have access to the outside they will not soil their house.  If they are locked indoors they will only soil in one corner – the rest of the house is kept clean!

Ok they love to roll in the mud – but that’s clean dirt!  It’s their way of cooling down!

Space & Fencing for Pigs: Pigs are really good at routing!  If you want to clear a bit of scrubland – forget machinery – think of your carbon footprint and send in a team of pigs!  They’ll sort it!

Pigs are very clever and will work out escape routes!  So be vigilant with your fencing.  We use electric fencing, but it needs to be checked daily.  Once they spot a gap they’re off!

Pig Personalities:  Yes, of our 4 adults, 3 teenagers and 22 toddlers…. all have different personalities and temperaments.  I have spoken before about their particular likes and dislikes with regard to food, at the moment now we have one or two who really don’t like this hot weather!

Lucy, one of the sows, is in foul humour, snapping and being cranky all the time!

So a shower a couple of times a day is good!  Thankfully, we have our own well and won’t have to worry about water charges (I hope!) if this weather continues as we have pigs who are having showers 2 and 3 times a day!

Clarence has a shower

Keeping pigs is fun, interesting and does require commitment.  Think twice before you commit, but when you do you will get some good times with them and wonderful meat!

If you do decide that Growing Your Own is the way to go…. contact us… will still have some Landrace/Saddleback crosses ready to go to new homes!  And can give you all the practical advice and help you will need.

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