Raising Swine: Basic management skills for getting started
Raising swine (pigs) can be an enjoyable, and potentially profitable, endeavor. But whether you are raising them as a hobby, as a source of meat or for profit it is important to hone your basic swine management skills before getting started. Understanding and applying the basic skills explained here will help in keeping your herd more comfortable, healthier and, therefore, more productive.
Proper Land and Housing Space: The amount of land and housing space needed will depend upon the size of your herd. Pigs prefer a large space to roam and and well-ventilated shelters or pens for protection from weather extremes. In an enclosed setting it is recommended that at least 8 square feet be provided for each pig. Too small of a space can lead to aggressive behaviors and injuries within your herd. Pens should be floored with a material that is easily cleaned and constructed of non-lead based materials. Swine will chew on just about any type of material, so it is also important that your pigs have no access to electrical lines. Enclosed spaces need to be well ventilated for temperature control and discharge of the high ammonia levels that arise from swine waste. If you are raising your pigs in an outdoor setting at least 12 square feet per pig is recommended. The space should be enclosed with deeply-set fence posts and heavy wire. Pigs are highly intelligent animals, so a secure gates that can not be easily opened is a must. You will also need adequate spaces for birthing sows, young piglets and sick or injured animals that are totally separate from the rest of the herd.
Purchase Your Swine from a Reputable Breeder: Researching the various breeds of swine and selecting healthy pigs to purchase is important for positive results. Select a breed that is best suited to your space and know the difference between healthy and unhealthy pigs before purchasing.
Adequate Food and Water: Swine prefer steady access to a water source and regular feeding patterns. While they will eat just about anything, a balanced diet of pellets or ground pig feed from a farm store or mill is best. Do not overfeed them as this will lead to health problems. They enjoy occasional offerings of kitchen scraps, but this should not be the source of their basic diets. Swine require large amounts of fresh water, especially in hot temperatures. On average, they will consume 3 to 5 gallons of water per pig per day. Both feed and water dispensers should be cleaned on a regular basis.
Keep Detailed Records: Maintaining detailed records on food and water consumption, health problems, immunizations and piglet production is essential for the long-term success of raising your swine. Pigs should be checked regularly for signs of health problems, injuries or physical discomfort and, when found, noted in your records. An individual record should be maintained for each member of your herd.
Observe Your Herd Often: Pigs should be observed on a routine schedule. Observe them at least once a day, but more often during events such as farrowing, illness or temperature extremes. A daily management routine allows pigs to develop a routine of their own. Pay close attention to all environmental factors that could influence the health of your pigs and immediately separate any sick or injured animals from the rest of the herd. Pigs do not like loud noises. Keep your observation routines as calm as possible and reduce excessive noises around their living areas.
By implementing these these basic skills, your experience with raising swine will be more enjoyable and more profitable.