Robin and I arrived home from an 8 day road trip late last night, and spent today getting ready for pigs. A pig pen, waterer, and feeding systems had all been on our todo list before we left, but between the garden drip irrigation, the chicken waterer, and camping preparations we didn’t get around to the pig items. (Yes, some of those other topics deserve blog posts too. We have a backlog of things to write about.)
One of the great things about having weeks to plan something and only hours to build it is that the simplest solution always wins. We built a small 16′ square pen inside the larger “chicken pen”. The piglets will stay here for a few weeks until they get adjusted and grow a bit. Then they will have the run of the whole former chicken pen (mostly).
The piglet pen is made from 4 cattle panels, recycled T-posts, and wire ties cut from aluminum conductor wire. There is no gate. Instead, one corner is connected using snap clips (like the end of a dog leash) and we left out a T-post. We can open the clips and bend the panel to gain access if we need it.
The piglets we bought were born about a mile from our house. We drove over in the truck and brought them home in a dog crate.
The piglets weigh 40-45 pounds each. They squealed like crazy when they were picked up, but only grunted quietly when the crate was picked up. We positioned them at the opening to their new pen, but they took their time getting out of the dog crate. Having been raised on concrete, their first experience with dirt was apparently very exciting to them. Within minutes they were plowing back and forth with their snouts.
The pig waterer is a recycled food-grade 55 gal drum, into which we installed a gravity nipple. The piglets were already familiar with nipple waterers. We talked about staking the barrel into place, but instead we filled it with 440 lbs of water and called it good enough for now.
Their feeder is a simple trough feeder that connects to the cattle panel sides with metal clips. The bottom is held down by a chain to prevent it from getting flipped. This is by far the simplest arrangement for feeding we could find and much cheaper than the $100+ metal gravity feeders which are typically destroyed by your first batch of pigs. We shall see how well this feeder handles abuse.
Robin and I are very excited to have two piglets at our homestead. These are our first animals raised only for meat, and the first experience with pigs for both of us. We hope they will have happy and healthy lives while they are here.