Maybe you just cannot get your mind off of bacon. Trust me, I understand. Maybe you see hogs as versatile animals that help you till and maintain land while being powered by nothing other than the land itself and food scraps. Whatever your purpose, you have decided that you are going to buy some hogs and you need to know what to expect.
Here are some lessons we learned when we decided to raise American Guinea Hogs. Your experience may vary depending on the needs of the breed you choose:
- Fencing: The electric net fencing we installed before purchasing our hogs was not sufficient for young pigs. The holes were too big and it was too easy for them to squeeze through a hole or lift the net. A single wire, while not portable, might have been a better choice. If you do go with the net you may wish to purchase some tent stakes to help hold the fence firmly to the ground at every single slight elevation change.
- Food: You have to understand the nutritional needs of your breed. We have to provide pasture or other forage and use pellets sparingly. As such, adequate storage for large quantities of hay and a good rotational grazing program are some things we had to implement.
- Pasture/Forage: They will clear the area they are in completely, and since they go for the roots as well it can take a long time to grow back. Keep your animal-to-area ratio in check, rotate their pastures and prepare to provide additional forage, either with hay or cut foliage.
- Your Toes: Ours decided to take a nip at the tips of our boots a few times. We were thankful to have boots on at that occasion. Mind your toes and ankles.
- GPS: When our hogs got out during that first week we acted like the typical panicked human: we tried chasing them down. What we learned is that hogs are very smart and quickly learned the layout of the land. After exhausting our efforts of finding 20lb pigs in acres of thicket and woods we gave up – just to find them grazing around in the front yard the next morning.
- Electricity Sensors: As with many other animals they seem to be able to sense if the power is off on the electric fence. When that happens, they will get out. Check your fence, often.
There are, of course, standard animal-keeping items to consider, such as keeping them warm when cold and vice-versa, but the items above are some of the lessons we didn’t expect to learn when we invested in hogs. Hopefully you can avoid our mistakes and jump straight into enjoying your new animals.
Jared Stanley of J&J Acres homesteads in Toomsuba, Mississippi, with his wife Jennifer and children. He also hosts an active YouTube channel you can view and subscribe to here. Jared is also a certified permaculture design consultant and you can view his website here.