Thursday, January 15, 2015

Raise your Own URBAN PIGS, get cheap Pork with very little work, and right in your backyard.

Pot-Bellied Pig
Many people do not realize that they can raise a pig or two on their property, often even in the city, with very little effort and at a relatively low expense.

Of course, before you get too excited about having your own supply of pork, you need to check the local laws on raising pigs and also make sure you are aware of any restrictions or special requirements.

Once you are satisfied that the legal restrictions are on your side you can then get into the process of preparation for raising your own pigs at home.

First of all, few urban farmers will want to even attempt to raise a full sized pig breed such as a Berkshire or Tamworth. These breeds grow very large, in the hundreds of pounds each but they require a large amount of living space and are voracious eaters.

Most urban farmers will raise just one or two breeder pigs that are small and easily controlled such as what are often called “Weiner Pigs”.
A couple of popular examples are the Kunekune and Pot-Bellied pig breeds. These smaller pigs require very little space and you can set up a reasonable space
in your backyard with just the following materials:

  • A Dog House -  for protection of one Pig from the weather or a simple 4-foot by 4-foot shelter can suffice.
  • A Water Trough – this can be as simple as a few wooden planks nailed together.
  • A Feeding Trough – this should be made of metal for ease of cleaning.
  • A Water Source and carry container, 
  • Pig Feed and a dry space out of the weather for storage, 
  • Straw for bedding -  to keep the Pig Pen dry and clean and most importantly of all, this will require regular changing.
  • A good Electric Fence - set up several rings of electric fence designed to contain your Pig from getting loose. A loose Pig can quickly destroy other plants in your Back Yard.

Once you find a breeder to purchase your Pig from, make sure that if it is a male, it has been castrated and the wound has healed before you pick it up.

Feeding your Pig:

These Weiner Pigs will consume between 0.5 and 1.5 pounds of food a day, 0.5-lbs. when young and small and up to 1.5-lbs.a day when they are adults.

Most people will depend on feed pellets as the basic feed for their pigs but you can supplement their feed with food scraps to cut your costs a little. If you had access to a forest area, you could take these little pigs out for a walk occasionally and let them forage to their hearts content, but remember they can tear a yard up

if you let them loose so keep them penned up at all times.

Some people will even make friends with their local grocer and offer to take their bad (not rotten, but bad) vegetables off of their hands. Pigs will wolf these vegetables down as quickly as they will their packaged feeds.

One note though, even though they will eat and eat, do not overfeed your Pig as it can become sick and even die under certain circumstances. Keep their food limited to what is recommended for a healthy Pig.

Housing Your Pig

As has been mentioned, you can start with a simple plastic Dog House for one Pig, or you can build a simple shelter from planks cover it with a tin or plastic roof. But, be sure to raise the floor above the ground level.

Pigs are not neat animals, and a pigpen with a raised floor can be easily hosed out regularly and fresh straw added on the floor to keep the smell down and keep the pig dry and healthy.

Your Pigs Health

First of all, make sure that when you purchase your small Pig that it has had shots for Worms. Also, remember that you need have them treated for Worms every 4-6 months.

Over time you may have problems with other diseases common to pigs, but a pig that is well fed, and kept in a dry and airy living area will not be nearly as susceptible to parasites and diseases as others that are not managed as well.

It is a good idea when making your little pig pen area to design it so that it can be easily moved to a different location in your yard every few months to help avoid the development of parasites that can attack your pig.

Remember that a healthy pig is a hungry and active pig, while a sick pig is a lethargic one that isn’t eating well. If you notice these symptoms, check with your breeder or other knowledgeable source on what to do next.

Slaughter Time

At some point, your pig will have grown to the point that you are ready to have it slaughtered and the meat cut up for you.  Again, check with the breeder that you originally purchased your Pig from and he will be able to tell you of someone who can take care of this chore for you.

In my youth, when I lived in the country, I helped family, and friends, kill and “Put Up” a lot of pigs.

It’s an art in itself and before you attempt to do this yourself, I recommend that you find someone skilled at this task and ask them to let you help them a few times just to learn the tricks of the trade.

You can learn the process and not lose very much of the edible meat, or you can just jump in with a knife and end up with a lot of waste if you have never done this before.

I remember my grandparents used to brag that “When we Killed a Hog we put up everything but the Squeal!” Nothing was wasted.

by Don Bobbitt, 2015